We had a season — long enough for what we are used to — without a new controversy around a feature film was once again making headlines and social media posts, but this week it was the recently released new version of Roald Dahl’s ‘The Witches’ that was responsible for putting the tireless wheel of controversy back on track.
In the film, directed by Robert Zemeckis, the hands of Anne Hathaway’s character are represented with a malformation similar to ectrodactyly, characterized by the lack of one or more fingers in the central area; A fact that has not been slow to arouse criticism from activists, associations and even the organization of the Paralympic Games.
One of the first voices to speak out against Hathaway’s characterization has been Paralympic swimmer Amy Marren, who shared the following statement on his Twitter account, alluding directly to Warner Bros .:
@WarnerBrosUK was there much thought given as to how this representation of limb differences would effect the limb difference community ?! @ReachCharity @RoaldFull pic.twitter.com/kiTEAuYt7i
– Amy Marren (@amy_marren) November 2, 2020
”Disappointed with the new Warner Bros. movie ‘The Witches’. I myself am a huge advocate of celebrating differences and especially limb differences. It is not unusual for surgeons to try to create hands like these for children and adults with certain differences in their limbs, and it is terrible that something that makes a person different is represented as something terrifying. Yes, I am fully aware that this is a movie, and that those are witches. But witches are basically monsters. My fear is that children will watch this movie, unaware that it is grossly exaggerating the Roald Dahl original, and that differences in limbs are beginning to be feared. This opens up new and complicated debates for those with differences in their limbs and complicates what we are trying to achieve, which is to celebrate who you are. “
The official account of the Paralympic Games shared Marren’s post, adding a link to his website, where he publications have been collected from people with malformations in which they show their limbs accompanied by the hashtag #NotAWitch – # NoUnaBruja— and criticize the production.
Among the voices that have been raised against ‘The witches’, is that of actress Melissa Johns, who has also shown her disagreement via Twitter.
Why missing fingers ??
Here we go again …
Using disability as a costume and to highlight a character as a “baddie”.
Children with limb differences rarely get to see themselves represented truthfully. But instead get shown as scary monsters?
Not what we need 😑 # TheWitches pic.twitter.com/AApqu1Nodx
– Melissa Johns (@Melissa_Clare_J) November 2, 2020
Why a lack of fingers? Here we are again … Using disability as a disguise and to highlight a character as a villain. Children with limb differences rarely get portrayed authentically, but are they portrayed as hideous monsters instead? It is not what we need ”.
The response from Warner Bros.
From Warner Bros. they have not been slow to come up against these criticisms through the statement that you can read below.
“We, the filmmakers, and Warner Bros. Pictures, are deeply saddened to learn that our portrayal of the fictional characters in ‘The Witches’ may upset people with disabilities, and we regret any offense caused. By adapting the original story, we worked with designers and artists to create a new interpretation of the feline claws described in the book. It was never our intention for viewers to feel that fantasy and non-human creatures were intended to represent them. This movie is about the power of kindness and friendship. It is our hope that families and children can enjoy the film and embrace this empowering and loving theme. “