New Witches Movie In Trouble For Making Disabilities Scary

By Ben Hamill - November 10 2020

New Witches Movie In Trouble For Making Disabilities Scary

A Warner Bros. remake of Roald Dahl’s scary children’s classic “The Witches” is causing quite the upset among social activists and people living with disabilities. Now out on HBO Max in the U.S., and coming to Canadian theatres later this month, 2020’s The Witches is a remake of the 1990 classic starring Anjelica Huston. Proving problematic however, is that the film depicts a hand very similar to what the hand of person living with limb irregularity ectrodactyly would typically look like – and presented as scary and belonging to a villain.

Though judging by several responses voiced across social media platforms the depiction of disabilities as scary and to be associated with villains are clearly hurtful to many with similar disabilities, Warner Bros. has expressed regret at having offended, but hasn’t gone as far as an actual apology.

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Anne Hathaway Apologises

In fact, if anything, the studio will probably have made the situation even worse by saying that it had never at any stage been their intention to make viewers feel as if they themselves were being represented by non-human creatures.

Leading lady Anne Hathaway did however on Thursday offer her own personal apology in a post on Instagram. Hathaway posted about being someone living a life in support of inclusivity. She then went on to offer a direct apology to especially children living with so-called limb differences, adding also that now that she knew better it was her intention to also do better.

Hathaway plays the part of the Grand High Witch in the 2020 adaptation of The Witches.  


What seemed to shock groups fighting disability stigmas most of all is that the act of making a witch look even scarier than before by depicting her with a limb difference was never even part of the original plot written by Roald Dahl. This decision has real life consequences for people living with ectrodactyly or other limb differences, said RespectAbility’s Lauren Appelbaum.

Continued Appelbaum, the way in which limb differences are depicted in the Warner Bros. adaptation of the dark children’s comedy, sends a dangerous and destructive message to especially kids living with disabilities. What the producers of the movie are essentially saying is that being different is the same thing as being hideous and something to be feared.

The general response to the movie has in the meantime led to hashtag #NotAWitch taking off across social media platforms – with many people posting images of their own limb differences.

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