Warner Brothers issued a formal apology for causing offense with one of their characters in The Witches, a film adaptation of Roald Dahl’s 1983 children’s novel. In the film, the grand high witch, played by Anne Hathaway, is depicted with missing fingers.
However, it seems like Warner Bros. failed to recognize their negative portrayal of limb abnormality known as Ectrodactyly, also referred to as split hand.
Many people in the disabled community took to social media to express concern about portraying a villain in a children’s film with split hand, stating that it would instill harmful stereotypes that those with limb differences are to be feared.
Warner Bros. was overwhelmed by the slew of negatives comments, including the Paralympic Games, who wrote: “Limb difference is not scary. Differences should be celebrated and disability has to be normalized. #NotAWitch calls out ‘#TheWitches’ movie for portrayal of disability.” The company offered its apologies, writing that it was “deeply saddened to learn that our depiction of the fictional characters… could upset people with disabilities.”
The film-makers decision to use split hand was even more confusing considering Dahl’s description in his book that the witches have “thin, curvy cat-like claws.”
Hathaway took to Instagram to state that she was unaware of the connection between limb difference and her character, and the stigma that would befall the disability community. She wrote: “I particularly want to say I’m sorry to kids with limb differences: now that I know better I promise I’ll do better”.
However, some did not see the problem with the portrayal, with one person writing: “So many insane complaints… this is a fictional character of a creature that does not exist in reality….”
Sources: America Now