In the latest adaptation of Roald Dahl’s “The Witches,” Anne Hathaway played the Grand High Witch wherein she possessed a three-fingered hand instead of the cat claws described in the book. Such a feature was offensive, according to disability activists, and the Academy Award-winning actress has apologized for it.
In a statement last week, Hathaway apologized to those with “limb differences” for the “pain caused.”
“I have recently learned that many people with limb differences, especially children, or in pain because of the portrayal of the Grand High Witch in ‘The Witches,'” she wrote.
Hathaway emphasized that her apology was indeed authentic and not out of some fearful capitulation to political correctness.
“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.”
Hathaway concluded her statement with a vow to “do better.”
“I particularly want to say I am sorry to kids with limb differences: now that I know better I promise I’ll do better. And I owe a special apology to everyone who loves you as fiercely as I love my own kids: I’m sorry I let your family down,” she concluded.
The Lucky Fin Project, an organization dedicated to helping people with “limb differences,” accepted Hathaway’s apology.
“Anne Hathaway has made an apology. This is a step in the right direction. This is a teachable moment. Let’s not strive for a ‘Cancel Culture’ but an educated, inclusive, empathetic, and empowering one. Forward together is how we all learn and rise,” the organization said in response.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the Grand High Witch in the recent adaptation was shown to have “three-fingered hands to indicate evil” instead of the original cat-like claws.
“Some in the disabled community noted that Hathaway’s character appears to have ectrodactyly, a limb difference sometimes called ‘split hand.’ There’s concern that ‘The Witches,’ as a family film, could contribute to stereotypes that disabilities are negative or frightening,” reported the outlet.
Warner Bros. also apologized for the portrayal of the Grand High Witch, telling Variety that it was an artistic choice and not an intentional jab against disabled people. “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,” said the apology.
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