Movie, ‘The Witches’ sparks outrage amongst the disabled
The Witches, a movie by Warner Bros has received backlash for its negative depiction of actual congenital conditions.
The Witches premiered earlier this month in South Africa. It is based on the 1983 novel by Roald Dahl. The movie stars Academy Award winning actress Anne Hathaway as the main villain. Her character is an evil witch with hands that resemble people with congenital limb differences. One such syndrome commonly associated with limb differences is Moebius Syndrome. According to John Hopkins School of Medicine, Moebius Syndrome is a rare congenital condition. People with Moebius Syndrome experience multiple accompanying conditions. One of which is missing or fused fingers also known as syndactyly.
Gavin Fouche, an adult with Moebius Syndrome believes that movies like The Witches impact negatively on the disabled community.
“The ‘bad guy’ always has to have some form of deformity or disability to make him look even more evil. The real problem with this is not the fact that it is an actual disability. The real problem is that we are teaching people that evil people look evil which is untrue,” said Fouche.
Sohana Ranglal, a student at Durban University of Technology is a mother to a 7 year old with Moebius Syndrome. She believes that the movie sets a very dangerous narrative.
“Children watching this movie could view others with congenital differences as evil or villains. A child can easily be conditioned maliciously through the media and convince others which often leads to bullying of children whose only crime is that they were born different,” she said.
Anne Hathaway released a statement last week after the outcry from the disabled community. She apologized to those with limb differences.
“Let me begin by saying I do my best to be sensitive to the feelings and experiences of others not out of some scrambling PC fear, but because not hurting others seems like a basic level of decency we should all be striving for,” she said.
“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. I did not connect limb differences with the GHW when the look of the character was brought to me; if I had, I assure you this never would have happened,” added Hathaway.