It turns out that this year's adaptation of The Witches is more than just a mediocre rendition of Roald Dahl's beloved, albeit pretty darn anti-Semetic children's novel. The film is now facing backlash from advocates and individuals with disabilities about their physical portrayal of witches. Earlier this week, Warner Brothers issued an apology regarding the appearance of Anne Hathaway's character, with three fingers on each hand, in what some say emulates a limb difference known as "split hand," or ectrodactylyin, NBC News reported.
A spokesperson for the studio told the news outlet that they are "deeply saddened to learn that our depiction of the fictional characters in 'The Witches' could upset people with disabilities," they explained. "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." Yet to some, the damage was already done.
After the film, which was released on October 22, as well as its promotional materials, highlighted lack of toes and claws as a few ways of identifying witches, the hashtag #NotAWitch began trending on Twitter, garnering support from Paralympians and activists alike, according to a report from the International Paralympic Committee.
"Seeing this picture from the 'The Witches' film made me very confused/upset," Claire Cashmore MBE, Paralympic Triathalon champion, wrote as a part of a longer post on Instagram. "Yes you could say it's great to see someone with a limb difference on TV and more than anything I really want to see more representation in the media. However, we want disabilities to be normalized and be represented in a positive light rather than being associated with being a scary, evil, witch."
"Disappointed in the new Warner Bros film The Witches ... I myself am a huge advocate of celebrating differences and especially limb differences," Amy Marren, a Paralympic bronze medalist swimmer, shared in a post on Instagram. "It's not unusual for surgeons to try and build hands like this for children/adults with certain limb differences, and it's upsetting to something that makes a person different being represented as something scary."