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Warner Bros. disappoints disability community.
The hashtag #Notawitch has been trending after the movie release of “The Witches,” on Oct. 22. The movie is based on the book by famed author, Roald Dahl. After its release, many members of the disability community have come out saying they are disappointed with Warner Bros for using ableist themes in the movie. The company’s response has made little progress to mend their wrongdoings as they continue to promote the movie on all social media platforms.
Anytime society seems to be progressing towards inclusivity and awareness, something like this brings us back a couple steps — at the cost of an entire community.
Roald Dahl’s award winning book, “The Witches” is about a young boy who fights England witches with his Grandma. Sounds simple enough, but the ableist themes portrayed by the witches of the movie proved to be a shock to the disability community — specifically people with symbrachydactyly. Symbrachydactyly is a condition visible at birth where fingers are short or all fingers are missing, as stated by the Boston Children’s Hospital.
The witches in Roald Dahl’s book wear gloves to hide their deformities and are described in the chapter “How to Recognize a Witch.”
“Instead of fingernails, she has thin curvy claws, like a cat, and she wears gloves to hide them.” wrote Dahl.
The Lucky Fin Project is a nonprofit organization that has spearheaded the ableist conversation surrounding “The Witches.” The Lucky Fin project celebrates the wonderfully made by raising awareness for children and individuals born with limb differences.
They stated on Twitter, “Imagine never seeing yourself represented on screen and then when you finally do, it’s as an evil character that people are supposed to fear.”
Warner Bros. Pictures has opted to take an easy route out of disappointing the disability community and potentially harming children’s self image. On their Twitter account the trailer for “The Witches” still remains pinned at the top for everyone to see.
The production company did issue an apology about their new “interpretation” of witches from the book. They told Variety that they were “deeply saddened to learn that our depiction of the fictional characters in ‘The Witches’ could upset people with disabilities.” This apology is a cop out and follows the basic blueprint of every apology that has been issued by major companies — it lacks all depth.
Actress Anne Hathaway plays the role of the Grand High Witch in the movie and is mostly seen wearing gloves. However, when she does show her natural hands, she has three fingers. Since the backlash on the film, Hathaway wrote an apology on Instagram and posted a video from The Lucky Fin Project. The apology was lengthy and acknowledged the harm the portrayal of her role has caused.
“I particularly want to say I’m sorry to kids with limb differences: now that I know better I promise I’ll do better,” wrote Hathaway.
The apology seemed to be well received; comments thanked Hathaway for admitting her mistake, which was claimed to be unintentional. Hopefully her large platform will spread awareness and stop similar events from happening in the future.
The Lucky Fin project spoke to representatives from Warner Bros. on Nov. 11 and claimed the nonprofit will be working with them moving forward to positively portray those who are wonderfully made.
This movie has caused harm to children and individuals that have disabilities, and The Paralympic Games said it best in a tweet, “Differences should be celebrated and disability has to be normalized.”