What is a story without a good villain?  Our heroes simply cannot personify courage and perseverance without a counter part that represents evil.  Right?  What is interesting is the fact that villains (at least in children’s stories) are always hideous and frightening.  Think about it.  Name a Disney movie where the villain is attractive with a beautiful smile.   There are none.  Villains display all of the qualities that we consider to be less than or unwanted.   Beauty is good and ugly is bad.    We must ask ourselves why we as consumers allow this?

To add insult to injury, some creative minds take their villainous characters down a road that has upset many in the disabled community.  They have given their villainous characters physical disabilities, thus lumping disabilities in the same category as other unattractive physical features.  Unfortunately, linking the two together is nothing new. This is an age-old issue; however, it is interesting to see that it is alive and well in 2020.

The most recent incidence of this is seen in the 2020 film entitled “The Witches”.  This film is an adaptation of the children’s book written by Ronald Dahl.  The film stars Anne Hathaway as an evil witch who eats children.  During the film, the witch’s appearance changes from “normal” and “attractive” to hideous and scary.  When the character changes to her “scary” appearance, she is depicted with disfigured hands that have two fingers and a thumb.  While the studio that made the film claims that the hands were intended to look like cat paws, many who suffer from ectrodactyly or split hands beg to differ.  People from all over the world including Paralympians and a recent contestant on “The Great British Baking Show” who have the condition are sharing photos of their limbs via social media with the hashtag “NotAWitch”. 

Both the actress, Anne Hathaway and the producers at Warner Bros. have issued apologies for their choices in the film, however many argue that the damage is already done.  It is hard to understand how filmmakers did not consider the fact that lumping disabilities in the same category as “evil” and “ugly” could be harmful.   Decisions to attribute disabilities to only villainous characters breeds misinformation and fear.  We say that we do not want our children to be fearful of people with disabilities, yet they are fed these messages through the media over and over again.  It is hard to reconcile that reality.

What do you think?  Will you be seeing “The Witches”?