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5 Nov, 2020 20:45

Woke witch-finders hunt actual witches over offending the disabled in the latest adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic

Woke witch-finders hunt actual witches over offending the disabled in the latest adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic

Short of real world targets, the social justice mob has weighed the new Anne Hathaway film, ‘The Witches’, against a woke duck and found it guilty of demonsing the bald and those with limb deformities.

As the UK enters into a second lockdown thanks to coronavirus, it seems the ability to escape the horror of our current situation and revel for 106 minutes in a fabulous world of fantasy storytelling has become the latest casualty of this cursed Covid-19.

Were he still alive, Roald Dahl, possessor of an arch sense of the ridiculous would no doubt be whooping with delight in the shed at the bottom of his garden, at the absurdity of a decision by Warner Bros to apologise to people offended by the “shocking” portrayal of witches in the latest movie entitled, er, ‘The Witches’.

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So what’s the issue? Racism? Sexism? Transgenderism? Islamophobism? Veganism?

None of the above. What has caused the latest confection of outrage is that the witches, with Grand High Witch brilliantly portrayed by Anne Hathaway, in the movie are missing two fingers on each hand and are bald.

That’s it. 

However, judging by the fuss caused by this rethinking of the characters in this second Hollywood treatment of Dahl’s work, you would have thought it was a fairytale retelling of Mein Kampf. The snowflake constituency is in meltdown. It’s “shockingly out of touch” they cry and portrays disability as “something to be scared of.”

Their complaint is that giving the villains in this children’s story clawed hands and smooth, hairless heads will upset those who have these characteristics through no fault of their own and Warner Bros must apologise this instant for causing offence or.. or.. we will turn them into toads!

Although PETA would tell us that’s offensive to toads. In the world of woke, you can never win.

The irony of this latest storm in a cauldron is that one of those decrying the alleged insensitivity actually plies his trade as a comedian with a self-deprecating line on disability. 

In this instance, however, Alex Brooker isn’t laughing. Born with his own limb deformities, he says that seeing the witches in the movie wear gloves to hide their two long fingers and a thumb was “heartbreaking” and reinforced the stigma around disability. His views are supported by parents of children with upper limb differences, charity members and those with alopecia but, sorry, they all seem to be missing the point. 

This is a fantasy. It’s about witches for heaven’s sake. Wake up. They. Are. Not. Real. If they seriously want to protest against something in this movie, surely, it has to be that witches are inevitably women. Where's the outcry against those sexist Hollywood pigs demonising females yet again?

It seems we have reached a point where people can become foaming-at-the-mouth furious about a made-up story, with fantasy characters aimed at children so lacking in humour have we become. And we can’t blame Covid-19 for everything.

As a word of warning, if you allow ‘The Witches’ to ruin your day of social trumpeting then please, don’t ever watch any of the Harry Potter franchise (spoiler alert: evil Voldemort is also bald), ‘Star Wars’ (bad-guy Darth Vader bears hideous facial scars), ‘The Lion King’ (cruelty to animals), ‘Snow White’ (the seven dwarves remain heroic in the face of disgraceful size-ism), ‘ET. The Extra Terrestrial’ (the protagonist’s foreign culture is mocked for our own entertainment) and we could go on.

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Because if a bit of make-up, a wig and some prosthetics upset you, watching these flicks will be just too much to bear.

I joke to make the point but it’s not because I’m some vulgar ogre with a heart of stone (no offence intended, Shrek). My own beautiful daughter Elvi, aged 19, is disabled. She suffers a severe form of dwarfism, has distinct upper limb deformity, commands a powered futuristic wheelchair and speaks in a largely unintelligible babble.

All these are traits given to movie villains and heroes over the years but neither she nor anyone in her extended family have ever felt offended or compelled to take to social media to demand an apology from Hollywood over a perceived and egregious display of insensitivity.

Our advice? Those who find themselves drawn to protest about ‘The Witches’ to simply let it pass for what it really is. Roald Dahl and the film-makers had no intention to harm or insult anyone and it's illogical to imagine some intended slight against yourself or your loved ones.

It’s entertainment, it’s escapism, it’s a movie about make-believe. And while the idea might be hard to take, it’s not always about you.

Not that anyone will listen to me, so if it makes you feel better, organise a protest, make yourself some signs and assemble a socially-distanced mob to shout loudly outside the closest venue to you that’s screening this miserable diatribe against disability.

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Bear in mind, however, that as all the cinemas in the UK are now shut thanks to the latest coronavirus lockdown and the only way to view the film is by an online streaming service, the closest screening is likely to be your own front room.

Go on, knock yourself out, the neighbours will love it.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.