Warner Bros. has issued a statement asking for forgiveness from the disability community following backlash which trailed the depiction of certain characters in its newly released Fantasy/Comedy drama The Witches.
“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,” a Warner Bros. spokesperson told E! News. “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.”
The company has been heavily slammed for its use of physical impairments in the characters’ hands and feet, which lead to some viewers expressing concern that the movie negatively portrays limb differences and could perpetuate stereotypes, the site reports.
In a trailer, viewers are told “how to spot a witch” and point to characteristics such as “claws” or an absence of toes.
After the release, social media users called out the studio with the hashtag #NotAWitch, amongst who is Amy Marren, a 22-year-old swimmer who won a bronze medal at the 2016 Paralympic Games.
“@WarnerBrosUK was there much thought given as to how this representation of limb differences would effect [sic] the limb difference community?!” she tweeted on Nov. 2. “@ReachCharity @RoaldFull.”
She later added, “Please educate yourself on #LimbDifferences and the support the idea that you are #NotAWitch because you look different! You can also actively support the limb difference community by using words that describe us as PEOPLE, as it’s not the difference that defines us.”