The upcoming 3-D stop-motion animated film, The Pirates! Band of Misfits, is causing a slew of controversy for what was supposed to be an innocent joke.
About 30 seconds into the trailer, the captain of the pirate ship and main character The Pirate Captain, voiced by Hugh Grant, boards a ship looking for treasure. However, he inadvertently jumps aboard a leper boat.
Gold? I'm afraid we don't have any gold, old man. This is a leper boat. See? said the leprosy-stricken character in the trailer. Then, his arm falls off.
The LEPRA Health in Action--an advocacy group dedicated to raising public awareness about the chronic illness--took offense to the scene, criticizing the production staff.
Leprosy is not an easy disease to catch, it is curable, those affected should live within mainstream society and no, limbs don't just fall off. Not even for comic effect, said the organization in a statement, according to The Inquisitr. They asked the production company, Aardman Animation, to remove the scene. The studio promptly complied. Leprosy is now more properly referred to as Hansen's Disease.
After reviewing the matter, we decided to change the scene out of respect and sensitivity for those who suffer from leprosy, according to a statement by Aardman Animation, as reported by The Inquisitr. The last thing anyone intended was to offend anyone and it is clear to us that the right way to proceed is to honor the efforts made by organizations like ILEP to educate the public about this disease.
LEPRA was pleased by this action and responded as follows:
After reviewing the statement below from Aardman LEPRA would like to add the following observations: Although we are genuinely delighted that Aardman has decided to amend the film, what has impressed our organisation most is the film-makers comments about respect and sensitivity. These words underline the importance of our work in the field and the dignity of those whose lives are affected by leprosy. Aardman has recognised the impact that this scene could have on this basic human right.
The Pirates! Band of Misfits, hits theaters on March 30. A sequel is already being planned by director Peter Lord.
View the controversial trailer and decide for yourself if the joke was offensive.