‘The Witches’ Gets Backlash From Disabled Community & Studio RespondsNovember 5, 2020
The Witches is getting some backlash.
The Robert Zemeckis-directed, Anne Hathaway-starring film sparked outrage from the disabled community, including British Paralympic swimmer Amy Marren, for its depiction of the witches.
“Warner Bros, was there much thought given as to how this representation of limb differences would effect the limb difference community?” she wrote on Twitter.
The witches appear in the new adaptation with three-fingered hands, similar to the limb abnormality ectrodactyly, otherwise known as “split hand.” However, the witches in Roald Dahl’s original book are described as having “claws instead of fingernails.” An illustration on the first edition cover also shows them having all five fingers.
Disability advocate Shannon Crossland also spoke out: “Is this the kind of message we want the next generation to receive? That having three fingers is a witch’s attribute? It is an extremely damaging portrayal. Disability should not be associated with evil, abnormality, disgust, fear, or monsters.”
A Warner Bros. spokesperson issued a statement in reaction to the backlash, saying they were “deeply saddened to learn that our depiction of the fictional characters in The Witches could upset people with disabilities” and “regretted any offense caused. In adapting the original story, we worked with designers and artists to come up with a new interpretation of the cat-like claws that are described in the book. It was never the intention for viewers to feel that the fantastical, non-human creatures were meant to represent them.”
Find out more about The Witches, and watch the trailer.
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