The motion picture has been an able vehicle for producing any number of themes that could involve the skin and dermatologic conditions. The reader needs only recall the beauty of the silent movie star Pola Negri (1897–1987) or the ugliness of Dracula in his namesake movie (1992) and the frightening character of Frankenstein (1931). There also is the 1980 film, entitled ‘The Elephant Man’, based on the life of John Merrick, (1862–1890), once shown as having neurofibromatosis but more likely to have had proteus syndrome.Elsewhere in this issue, Ishida et al. discuss cutaneous observations in movies since 2000. They have observed skin changes ranging from purpura to scar formation. A review of the dermatologic literature on the subject suggests that villains often appear with facial scars, likely as a result of fights in a tavern, or with facial pallor that is frankly unappetizing. The heroines have lovely complexions and well‐coiffed hair, and no wonder, for Hollywood is responsible for the development of many cosmetics (i.e. pancake make‐up) that camouflage any number of cutaneous sins, turning actresses into the envy of the audience.All of this should not be unexpected. Does the audience really want to set eyes upon Plain Jane, who can be found in every box store throughout the United States? The viewer hopes to view a glamorous actress or the modern version of Cary Grant (1904–1986). As movies progressed from the nickelodeon to the silent film and from the black and white talkies to the modern version of the Technicolor® movie with or without Cinerama®, it is much more powerful to have the heroes and heroines as attractive people and the villains as people with distasteful appearances. Shooting a star with psoriatic plaques or rhinophyma from rosacea (e.g. W. C. Fields (1880–1946) a noted vaudevillian, had a large red bulbous nose) may be realistic and even engender sympathy, but there is the risk that the audience may be repelled by such realism.In recent years, there have been two significant presentations relating to dermatology and the movies. These papers highlight the 87 films depicting albinism as an unfavourable condition or other films with unflattering portrayals of patients with syphilis, leprosy and even Kaposi's sarcoma. While none of these dermatologic maladies is pleasant for audience viewing, patients so afflicted should engender sympathy rather than distaste, let alone repulsion.ReferencesIshida Y, Lin E, Otsuka A, Kabashima K. Skin findings of 21st century movie characters. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol 2018; 32: e98–e100.Johanssen JG, D. Media and the skin. SKINmed. 2018; 16: 11–12.Croley JA, Reese V, Wagner RF Jr. Dermatologic features of classic movie villains: the face of evil. JAMA Dermatol 2017; 153: 559–564.Reese V. Dermatology in the cinema. J Am Acad Dermatol 1995; 33: 1030–1035.Chan C, Wagner RF Jr. Dermatology at the movies. Clin Dermatol 2009; 27: 419–421.
Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology & Venereology – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2018
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