Vampires, poltergeists, and zombies, oh my! We know their anatomy front and back: how they move, hunt, sleep, glisten in the sun, and date pasty, self-deprecating high school girls. We know all this because these fictitious creatures are Hollywood’s version of The Beatles’ “Yesterday.” They’ve been covered, adapted, tweaked, nipped, and tucked ad nauseam, and nearly everyone’s fingers have been in the pie. Viewers have been fed excessive amounts of the same slop, and still, like competitive eaters, we keep thrusting hotdogs down our gullets.
Hollywood and TV aren’t always keen on delving into unchartered territory. They like their reliable moneymakers, and while that makes sense, there’s one mysterious dame they’ve yet to capitalize on despite her potential, and that, dear readers, is…THE WITCH.
Sure, sure. They’ve dabbled a bit, hesitantly poking around the witch’s den for details about her reclusive existence, but they’ve refused to renovate the place like they did Dracula’s castle. Compared to her bloodsucking cousins and undead neighbors, there’s still much we don’t know about our broom-wielding sister in black.
Before assuming it’s a lack of interest, let’s consider the undeniable curiosity shown by viewers when a bubbling cauldron is hung under their noses. From “The Witch,” to “Salem,” to “Practical Magic,” to American Horror Story’s “Coven,” films and TV shows about these wise women have done relatively well, especially considering how little fanfare they were shown, compared to…say…every action film ever made. The problem clearly isn’t a lack of interest, so why the cold shoulder, Hollywood?
It’s no surprise that America’s still in its infancy when it comes to gender equality, and that our rickety training wheels still squeal loud enough to remind women not to pedal too fast. Even Hollywood, with all its forward thinking, has largely kept powerful female protagonists out of our grasp. We don’t always like our leading ladies served without a heavy dose of self-doubt, and we certainly don’t want to see women wielding enough power to overcome MAN. With the exception of a few recent releases, “Damsel” is still the role too many of us are most comfortable seeing women in. But I have a sneaking suspicion witches have been shipped to Alcatraz for a different reason.
I’m about to make everyone uncomfortable in 3…2…1…
There, I said it.
Regardless of your views, America—despite its propensity for hedonism—remains deeply rooted in some of its early puritan beliefs. I know, I know. It’s hard to believe. We’re sex-crazed and violent and wildly inappropriate (or maybe that’s just me), and we openly mock all religions, yet we continue to hold tightly to certain early beliefs.
Collectively, society’s the tattooed, leather-clad dude with long hair, giving you the one-finger salute. Loud and a bit scary looking, until you see the Carly Rae Jepsen CD on the seat of his baby blue Toyota Camry. He’s the same guy that’ll hire a hooker on Saturday night and hope the congregation doesn’t smell her perfume on his sports jacket the next morning, and while guns, blood, and killing are his favorite side dishes served alongside the main feature, the idea of his daughters consorting with all the elements of nature and dancing naked around a fire is entirely too much for his westernized mind to bear.
“It’s not nature,” you cry. “It’s the Devil!”
Okay, yeah. That’s how the story’s been spun since the beginning of the witch-hunt. Various religions all around the world instilled in their followers a fear of anyone, particularly women, who practiced differently than they did. From midwives, to female practitioners, to those with unsightly moles, they were all believed to be consorting with dark forces. Question is: have we really evolved?
C’mon! We all know that one chick who wears a pentagram and dresses like Stevie Nicks. You’re kind of enamored, and maybe even want to talk to her, but…like, what if she curses you?
Between the puritan thread still running through many of our beliefs and our childlike propensity for flights of fancy, we’ve allowed for a culture that still fears women in powerful roles, be it actual positions of power, or fictitious roles perpetuated by the same people who believed the earth was flat and bad crops were caused by curses. Combine our fear of women with our fear of all things “unholy” and you’ve got yourself a highly explosive force only few will touch.
While we can hope the witch sees her day in the sun (‘cause that broad needs a tan), I’m afraid we’ve got a bit of demystifying to do before all moviegoers can comfortably digest more women in pointy hats and shoes. Until then, the first rule of Witch Club is: You don’t talk about Witch Club.