Disabled Mr Gay winner hits out at Anne Hathaway and The Witches for ‘dangerous’ depiction of limb difference

Patrick Kelleher
·3-min read

The first physically disabled winner of Mr Gay Wales has hit out at The Witches for its “dangerous” depiction of limb difference.

The Witches, HBO Max’s new Roald Dahl adaptation, has been widely criticised over Hathaway’s villainous Grand High Witch, who has three fingers on each hand.

Paul Davies, 36, who won the Mr Gay Wales contest in 2016, criticised the film for portraying people with limb differences as “mean and nasty”.

“It will have a huge impact for a lot of people on every level, especially those with a limb difference,” Davies told Wales Online.

“Seeing themselves portrayed as a villain, or something mean and nasty, when you have no representation anyway is quite dangerous.”

Mr Gay Wales winner Paul Davies hit out at The Witches for its depiction of limb difference.

“We have no representation, if any, on screen and when you finally get that opportunity to see someone similar to yourself you see them in a very villainous life, it’s not great.”

The Mr Gay Wales winner continued: “I survived and became my own little hero. I was born into prejudice from birth, the nurse said ‘Er it’s got one hand’.

“I’ve developed thick skin and embraced my disability and my limb difference, but for some other children out there they’re still going through a journey,” he added.

People with limb differences have been protesting against The Witches on social media using the hashtag #NotaWitch, and Davies added to the conversation in his own Facebook post.

In the post, Davies described himself as “LIMB-itless”.

In the Roald Dahl book, the witches have “thin curvy claws” for fingernails, and feet that end in “square ends with no toes on them at all”.

Seeing themselves portrayed as a villain, or something mean and nasty, when you have no representation anyway is quite dangerous.

However, in the new Anne Hathaway film – which was originally set for a theatrical release before the pandemic shunted it to HBO Max – the Grand High Witch is introduced wearing five-fingered gloves, which are later removed to reveal three fingers.

Comedian Alex Brooker, who has hand and arm differences, told the BBC the image was jarring, and worried the film could “add to the stigma” around disability.

The backlash became so intense that Hathaway issued an apology on Instagram, writing: “I have recently learned that many people with limb differences, especially children, are in pain because of the portrayal of the Grand High Witch in The Witches.

“Let me begin by saying I do my best to be sensitive to the feelings and experiences of others not out of some scrambling PC fear, but because not hurting others seems like a basic level of decency we should all be striving for.

“As someone who really believes in inclusivity and really, really detests cruelty, I owe you all an apology for the pain caused. I am sorry.”

Warner Bros, the studio that made the film, issued an apology on November 4, saying: “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.”