HBO Max’s The Witches Proves We Can’t Have Nice Special Effects

HBO Max’s The Witches Proves We Can’t Have Nice Special Effects

In case you don’t have HBO Max (like 60% of the country that own Roku), you may have missed out on The Witches. The Robert Zemekis-directed Halloween spoof of the classic Roald Dahl children’s book stars Anne Hathaway and Octavia Spencer. Instantly, you think: “This should be good.”

Well, this VOD release proved one thing: It wasn’t good, at least not to Amy Marren.

We just can’t even have nice special effects any longer without someone getting “offended.” Many people read way too much into things they hear in music, see on TV, or other people said.

So, they do what is common today: They scream “Offended!”

It’s agonizing, like sitting through a binge-a-thon of Keeping Up With the Kardashians and The Bachelorette. Just stab my eyes and ears with a fork and let’s get this over with because it’s doubtful those easily offended folk even know what that word means.

Is this a case of malignant intent, ignorant filmmaking, or just watching a movie with special effects and prosthetics? Back to Amy Marren…

The Witches Attack The Disabled

There’s Anne Hathaway, leader of this coven in The Witches. She takes off her gloves (and wig) and then she transforms into what appears to be a jacked-up looking witch from another world.

Only that’s not how the disabled community, led by Paralympian swimmer Amy Marren, cared to put it. To them, it was a direct offense to their community.

There is a “community” for everything, and there should be. Peer support is among one of the greatest assets for a strong mental health. Yet, I can almost guarantee Warner Bros. while reading Roald Dahl’s children’s book was not thinking of the “limb difference community.” Not one bit, and to be fair, maybe that was the problem?

Now the makers of The Witches have issued an apology because someone thought a prosthetic was offensive instead of realizing it was part of a movie. Which…you know, had some science fiction and hocus-pocus in it further enhancing .

“We the filmmakers and Warner Bros. Pictures are deeply saddened to learn that our depiction of the fictional characters in The Witches could upset people with disabilities, and regret any offense caused.”

“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. It was never the intention for viewers to feel that the fantastical, non-human creatures were meant to represent them. This film is about the power of kindness and friendship. It is our hope that families and children can enjoy the film and embrace this empowering, love-filled theme.”

Warner Bros. via THR, Nov. 2020

Say it With Me: Ectrodactyly

Wait, what? Yes, you read that right: “Ectrodactyly.” That is the word Warner Bros. is now committing to memory because of the throng of disability advocates who have now criticized the film after photos of Anne Hathaway’s character showcased her hands.

In the movie The Witches, her character has three webbed fingers on each hand — more commonly known as “split hand,” or ectrodactyly. The etymology of the word is a little darker: It is derived from the Greek ektroma (abortion) and daktylos (finger). Any malformation of the hand involving the loss of a central digit is “aborted finger.” Morbid.

But again, this was a movie. You think anyone at Warner Bros. thought that would be a problem? It’s only movie make-up, right?

Welp, she knew but didn’t care. She went to social media anyway and tried to get some justice from those bastards who made The Witches. If anyone reading this saw someone in real life living with ectrodactyly and made fun of them, you’re welcome to stop reading now and piss off.

Seeing this from Amy Marren’s vantage point, it’s easy to understand why she was so upset. She is someone living with a cleft hand, turns on the Internet, and sees The Witches making it look scary. But, if cooler minds prevailed, this is a movie and there was no sardonic attempt to make fun of the limb difference community.

Unfortunately, this is the day of knee-jerk reactions and microwaved thinking. And we have instant bitching mechanisms at our fingertips, so there we go.

Seriously: Where do you stand? Can you see her point? Then, do you think Warner Bros. deliberately set to make people like her out to be freaks? The madness will never stop, I suppose. This is the world we live in.

Limb differences aren’t scary. Apparently, neither was The Witches. Can we all just get along now?

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I write for a living, among other things in the digital journalism and analytics universe. So I'm a little like a nerd unicorn. But no bronies. Move along.
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