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Warner Bros apologizes after 'The Witches' draws backlash from disability community

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Warner Bros./HBO Max(LOS ANGELES) — Warner Bros., who is behind the HBO Max remake of The Witches, apologized to the disability community for how the villains were depicted in the movie.

The fallout, according to Deadline, was sparked over a key difference between the 2020 remake and the Roald Dahl classic book and — by extension — the original 1990 film.

The witches in the HBO Max reimagining have three long fingers and not “claws instead of fingernails,” as stated in the original book, which upset the disability community.

Amy Marren, an English Paralympic swimmer, explained on Tuesday why she found that alteration so troubling.

While Marren is a “huge advocate of celebrating differences and especially limb differences,” she says giving those traits to villains does more harm than good.  The athlete also pointed out that doctors will fashion similar three-fingered hands for disabled children or adults to help them live a normal life.

“My fear is that children will watch this film, unaware that it massively exaggerates the Roald Dahl original and that limb differences [are] to be feared,” Marren wrote. “I am fully aware that this is a film, and these are Witches.  But Witches are essentially monsters.”

The Paralympic Games, retweeted Marren’s statement and expressed on their official Twitter, “Limb difference is not scary.  Differences should be celebrated and disability has to be normalised.”

Warner Bros. said in a statement to Deadline that they 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.”

“It was never the intention for viewers to feel that the fantastical, non-human creatures were meant to represent them,” the company maintained.

The Witches, starring Anne Hathaway, Octavia Spencer and narrated by Chris Rock, premiered on HBO Max on October 22.

By Megan Stone
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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