Anne Hathaway and Warner Bros Apologize After “The Witches” Remake Receives Backlash from the Disability Community
A character design element created a stir amidst the disability community.
“The Witches” remake didn’t just come and go quietly. Soon after the movie’s release, it stirred up controversy when it attracted the attention of the disability community. Several prominent Paralympians, campaigners, and even the Paralympic Games called the movie out.
The backlash came from a character design element that served as a prominent feature in Anne Hathaway’s character, the Grand High Witch. The character’s hands, with missing digit fingers, resemble the limb abnormality Ectrodactyly, also called split hand. This sparked comments that stated the film was being offensive towards those with Ectrodactyly and other limb differences.
Limb difference is not scary. Differences should be celebrated and disability has to be normalised. #NotAWitch calls out ‘#TheWitches’ movie for portrayal of disability 👉 https://t.co/aSY1U6TymE pic.twitter.com/UCU87bUeV8
— Paralympic Games (@Paralympics) November 3, 2020
Warner Bros released a statement over the film’s reception, saying, “We the filmmakers and Warner Bros. Pictures are deeply saddened to learn that our depiction of the fictional characters in THE WITCHES could upset people with disabilities, and regret 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. This film is about the power of kindness and friendship. It is our hope that families and children can enjoy the film and embrace this empowering, love-filled theme.”
Hathaway herself also made an apology to the community. “As someone who really believes in inclusivity and really, really detests cruelty, I owe you all an apology for the pain caused. I am sorry,” she wrote in an Instagram post. She also directed her followers to The Lucky Fin Project, a non-profit that aims to spread awareness about limb differences. Supporters of the cause are now using the hashtag #NotAWitch.