The Last Leg’s Alex Brooker hits out at The Witches for ‘heartbreakingly reinforcing stigma’ around disability


The Last Leg’s Alex Brooker hits out at The Witches for ‘reinforcing stigma’ around disability (Picture: AP)

Alex Brooker has hit out at new release The Witches for ‘reinforcing the stigma’ surrounding disability.

The Witches is an adaptation of Roald Dahl’s 1983 classic and stars Anne Hathaway as the Grand High Witch, who has missing fingers on each hand.

Following its release, the movie came under fire from viewers who likened the missing fingers to ectrodactyly – a congenital disorder involving the deficiency or absence of one or more central digits on the hand or foot.

Others pointed out that there was no need for the witches to have missing fingers, as in the original book illustrations they have five fingers, but wear gloves to hide ‘claws’.

Comedian Brooker, 36, was born with hand and arm deformities and wears a prosthetic leg, after having his right leg amputated when he was a baby.

He agrees with some campaigners that have argued using disabilities to portray evil characters is upsetting, as it depicts people with differences as ‘something scary’.

Alex was born with hand and arm deformities and wears a prosthetic leg (Picture: Rex)
Hathaway’s character in the movie has missing fingers (Picture: Backgrid)

Brooker said he found Hathaway’s character having missing fingers in the film ‘heartbreaking’, as it ‘reinforces the stigma’ surrounding disabilities.

‘As someone with missing fingers, it’s made me so sad to see how this is portrayed as something to be scared of,’ he told the Daily Star.

‘I’ve been that kid who wanted to wear gloves to hide, so it’s heartbreaking to see that stigma reinforced for other children who have different hands to everyone else.’

The TV star is a regular on Channel 4 series The Last Leg and had fronted a documentary in July to raise awareness of those with disabilities and the impact it has on their lives.

He wasn’t the only star to criticise the film, as Paralympic swimmer Amy Marren tweeted Warner Bros. to speak out in support of the disabled community.

She tweeted: ‘@WarnerBrosUK was there much thought given as to how this representation of limb differences would effect the limb difference community?!’

The official Paralympics Twitter account then launched the #NotAWitch campaign, tweeting: ‘Limb difference is not scary. Differences should be celebrated and disability has to be normalised.’

Warner Bros. has responded to the backlash, with a spokesperson for the studios insisting they were ‘saddened’ to hear that the appearance of the characters in The Witches has caused offence.

‘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 offence caused,’ a spokesperson told Metro.co.uk in a statement.

‘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,’ they continued. ‘It is our hope that families and children can enjoy the film and embrace this empowering, love-filled theme.’

The Witches was released on HBO Max on October 22 and boasts a stellar cast with the likes of Octavia Spencer, Stanely Tucci, Kristin Chenoweth and Chris Rock joining Hathaway onscreen.

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