Scarface? It never worried me!

Scarface? It never worried me! Rami Malek in No Time to Die.

In the current James Bond movie – No Time to Die – the villain, name of Safin, is played by an actor showing facial scarring (although Rami Malek’s facial markings are purely the product of the make-up department). And he’s not the first Bond villain to be a ‘scarface’.

And it’s certainly unchristian to imply that a facial or outward disfigurement means a bad character or even some kind of curse”

But the ‘scarred bad guy’ image has offended groups who are campaigning to remove the stigma from those bearing facial scars. Organisations like ‘Changing Faces’ and ‘Face Equality’ – both with online presences – have protested against the negative stereotype of the ‘scarface’, as if a person’s outer appearance were a stain on his inner character.

They’re entitled to complain about this trope, which has been lazily used to convey wickedness ever since Shakespeare gave Richard III an exaggerated hunchback (the Plantagenet king had a slightly twisted spine). It’s often been a staple of films, novels and theatrical performances. And it’s certainly unchristian to imply that a facial or outward disfigurement means a bad character or even some kind of curse.

Facial disfigurement

As it happens, I have a minor facial disfigurement myself – a v-shaped scar on my cheek, just under my right eye. This arises from a childhood mishap, when, aged four, I climbed up on a kitchen dresser to fetch a china cup that took my fancy. Well, I fell down, cup in hand, which duly crashed on the stone floor and made a big gash on my cheek.

The wound should have been medically stitched, but for some reason, it was not. Other family members criticised my mother for not taking me to hospital for surgery, instead of leaving it to heal. But the fact that little fuss was made, and subsequently, joked about as an example of my intrepid childish mishaps, may have been psychologically beneficial. I never had any complexes about this facial scar, and for most of my life I’ve forgotten about it. Every now again, I notice the v-shape showing up on my cheek – but I just slap on another application of Max Factor.

Maybe they should make a movie where it’s the hero who has the facial scar?”

The experience makes me ask how much of the ‘scarface’ stigma is largely about attitude? Because no one ever made much of an issue about my own facial scar, I never gave it much thought.

There may even be another way of approaching this: regard a physical imperfection as a distinction, as students at Heidelberg used to flaunt duelling wounds, or Kenyan tribesmen painted facial markers. Maybe they should make a movie where it’s the hero who has the facial scar?


Every time a Catholic religious leader speaks about supporting peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland, there’s a chorus of voices demanding they promote integrated education as a remedy for past (or ongoing) divisions.

Personally, I don’t see any contradiction between the existence of integrated schools for those who want them, and faith schools, for those parents who seek a faith formation for their child.

Let the integrationists have their schools. But faith leaders should support parents who want faith schools.


France plays Trump card…not

Éric Zemmour, the journalist and historian who has risen in the French polls as a possible presidential candidate, is sometimes  referred to as ‘the French Trump’.

This is a silly comparison. Donald Trump is a populist businessman who, by his own admission, has seldom read a book. Éric Zemmour is an intellectual with a deep knowledge of French history and literature, and a graduate of the elite academy Sciences-Po in Paris.

Yes, Monsieur Zemmour has tough views about the control of immigration, and he thinks militant Islam is incompatible with French values. But I’ve read his books, and followed him on the French streaming channel CNews, and I’d describe him as a Gaulliste, with Bonapartiste tendencies. He believes in the nation, and fiercely defends France. He’s not anti-EU, but is against over-dominance by Brussels. He is not a fan of NATO, and is critical of globalism, and the way in which ‘wokism’ has embraced every American fad (like many French commentators, he sometimes lumps Americans and Brits together as les Anglo-Saxons.)

His book Le Suicide Français was a bestseller because it disparaged the ‘decadence’ and defeatism of modern culture.

Born in Algeria into a Jewish family, Monsieur Zemmour has often stated his respect for French Catholic tradition which he sees as essential to French identity. Asked last week if he was religious, he answered with a smile: “it depends on the day of the week! I had a religious formation, and that is with me. Some days that struggles with my modern rationalism.” He often quotes Charles Péguy, the French Catholic writer who died in the First World War.

A controversial political personality, but absolutely not a ‘French Trump’.