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A recent controversy has been forming around director Robert Zemeckis’ remake of Roald Dahl’s The Witches, as the depiction of Anne Hathaway’s Grand High Witch has touched off backlash surrounding her physical appearance. The specific attribute in question is the fact that the new imagining of this classic villain has apparently linked her villainy to her deformities, which has sparked a reaction similar to that against the stereotype of using facial scaring as shorthand for villains. Which has led to Hathaway herself issuing a sincere apology on social media, in the wake of this reaction.
Through her official Instagram presence, Anne Hathaway posted an extensive apology detailing her regret for the feelings that The Witches has inspired with people who possess limb differences. In addition to her own personal reaction, Hathaway also shared a video from the Lucky Fin Project, an organization that “exists to raise awareness and celebrate children, individuals, and families affected by limb differences.” Her apology begins as follows:
I have recently learned that many people with limb differences, especially children, are in pain because of the portrayal of the Grand High Witch in The Witches. 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. 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 difference with the GHW when the look of the character was brought to me; if I had, I assure you this never would have happened.
For reference, moviegoers can re-watch Anne Hathaway's performance in The Witches on HBO Max. You can use this link to sign up for the streaming service.
Anne Hathaway has always been a mindful person when it comes to selecting her roles, as well as in her own everyday life. That distinction throws her response to The Witches controversy in even sharper relief, as while Hathaway had nothing but respect for the role and the effects wizardry that went into it, she hasn’t shied away from the fact that it’s caused pain to a particular faction of her audience. Continuing to apologize for this unintentional crisis, Anne Hathaway made this further statement abundantly clear:
I particularly want to say I’m 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.
With this apology on the books, a very important lesson in inclusion has been raised for the public to take note of. Anne Hathaway’s words go a long way to addressing the matter, but of course, it’s now up to content creators and actors to be more mindful of such depictions in the coming future. We’ll see what sort of effect this issue has on future productions, and as for those of you who are still interested in checking out the new remake of The Witches, it’s currently available for streaming on HBO Max.