In what sounds like a bit of fun but is in fact a serious study, doctors in the US have been investigating whether or not hair loss
and other dermatological conditions are disproportionately commonplace in movie ‘bad guys’.
Two MDs from San Francisco and a fellow doctor from Texas have been analysing the American Film Institute’s Greatest Heroes and Villains list to work out whether the movie business has a negative bias when it comes to showing the world what the archetypal villain should look like.
They compared the top 10 heroes on the list with the top 10 bad guys, and confirmed their suspicions: none of the heroes had hairloss or any other dermatological complaint, whereas 60 per cent of the baddies did.
The doctors wrote: “Six (60%) of the all-time top 10 American film villains have dermatologic findings, including cosmetically significant alopecia (30%), periorbital hyperpigmentation (30%), deep rhytides on the face (20%), multiple facial scars (20%), verruca vulgaris on the face (20%), and rhinophyma (10%).”
The serious point to all this, they state, is that these things are being used in film to highlight the dichotomy of good and evil. This, that say, “may foster a tendency toward prejudice in our society directed at those with skin disease.”
It is something that many people have previously picked up on, including YouTuber DarkAntics
, who has 47,000 subscribers. The video blogger, who is losing his hair to the genetic condition Male Pattern Baldness
, made a short film about the Hollywood trend for casting bald people as bad guys, and noted that if you are bald on screen you are usually evil or somehow “damaged”.
Footballer-turned-actor Frank LeBoeuf
commented on being typecast because of his baldness, too. “It does seem that I die a lot in the parts that I get,” said LeBoeuf, who has been bald since his footballing days. “Hopefully one day I’ll get in a film where I don’t get killed and make it to the end. The parts that George Clooney and Brad Pitt get, though? Maybe not...”
Treatment for actors
Male hair loss treatment
is rumoured to be something that countless leading actors, including Tom Cruise
, follow as there is little doubt that, in an industry so obsessed with appearance, a full head of hair is a prerequisite to getting work in many cases. Actor James Nesbitt
, who has had two hair transplants, admitted as much, stating that offers of leading man roles seemed to disappear as his hair did.
As well as being able to use clinically-proven medications to help combat hair loss, serious A-listers also have technology on their side. Mashable.com recently wrote about the hush-hush phenomenon known as “beauty work
”, in which the appearance of celebrities is digitally enhanced during the post-production stage of movie-making. The article quoted Claus Hansen, a beauty work expert working at Method Studios in Los Angeles, who said that “Nobody looks like what you see on TV and in the movies. Everybody is altered.”
While baldness and bad guys do seem to go hand-in-hand at the movies, the veneer of “toughness” that a lack of hair seems to give villains also works for some actors who regularly play rough-and-ready heroes people like Jason Statham
, Vin Diesel and Bruce Willis.
Actors who make the most of baldness
But there’s little doubt that most bald actors are somewhat type-cast. Not that this is always a bad thing and several people have been able to exploit it.
Action movie star Joseph Gatt
(pictured), for example, who appeared in Thor and Star Trek: Into Darkness, says he feels blessed to have Alopecia Universalis, the autoimmune disorder that leads to total hair loss on the head and body.
It is a more severe sister condition of Alopecia Areata
, a treatable condition which is the second most common form of hairloss worldwide, behind androgenetic alopecia (male pattern baldness and female pattern hair loss).
Gotham star Anthony Carrigan
, meanwhile, has stated that he has been offered more acting roles because of his distinctive hair-free look. He, too, has a rare form of Alopecia Areata, probably Alopecia Universalis or perhaps Alopecia Totalis
, a condition where hair loss is restricted to the head - scalp and facial hair - as opposed to the whole body.
The fact remains, however, that many men are uncomfortable with the idea of losing their hair, and a great many of them take steps to address thinning locks or sudden hair fall by seeking out specialist help from a dedicated hair loss clinic
. In many cases, treatment can produce significant regrowth results.