Is The Witches offensive to disabled people?
What's the situation?Disability campaigners have criticised the new Roald Dahl film The Witches as stigmatising those with missing limbs.
What do Scope think?We think this situation is hugely disappointing. We know that, for many disabled people, it’s rare see themselves represented on screen.
All too often the “baddies” in dramas are depicted with an impairment. This sends a troubling message that implies that limb difference is something to be feared and hidden away.
For Scope, the film industry should be celebrating diversity and using its immense power to change negative attitudes towards disability, not reinforcing damaging stereotypes and outdated tropes.
What have others said?Comedian and presenter Alex Brooker spoke up on the issue:
The story is that the witches wear gloves to hide what is horrible underneath. I’ve been that kid who wanted to wear gloves to hide so it’s heart-breaking to see that stigma reinforced for other children who have different hands to everyone else.
I know it’s just a film, but I want disabled kids to celebrate who they are, not feel like they have the same hands as a fictional monster.
Children’s limb difference charity Reach has said:
Roald Dahl is a much loved British author around the world. We think he would be equally as horrified about how one of his beautiful novels has been misconstrued at the cost of some very special and unique children.
Para-triathlon world champion Claire Cashmore wrote:
What have Warner Bros. said?
However, Warner Bros. have come out with a statement defending their choice:
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.
What do you think? Is The Witches offensive to disabled people? Have you ever been offended by the way someone has been depicted in a film or TV show? What might the consequences of negative portrayals of disability be?
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