Updated: Jul 25, 2019
"The real magic is believing in yourself. If you can do that, you can make anything happen." ― Madame Serena, Teen Witch
Recently, I was a guest on the VH-US podcast, discussing the movie Teen Witch, what it's like to be a witch in 'real-life', and how that contrasts to movies and TV. It got me thinking about the idea of how witches are represented in our culture, and how that perception has evolved.
Traditionally, witches in movies have been depicted as either an old and scary hag or as a young seductress who would ruin you. But in the 20th and 21st centuries, these ideas have evolved into a more nuanced portrait. Witches are people too and the media has begun to reflect that. In the 1980s movie Teen Witch, our heroine Louise is learning about her moral compass and boundaries. The character of Elaine in The Love Witch brings up questions about female sexuality and how it's dealt with within our culture. In The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, we see a young woman discovering her feminism. American Horror Story Coven was largely a portrayal of women letting it all hang out (in various stages of cattiness) and an interesting exploration of "light magick vs dark magick".
I loved Teen Witch because it is essentially a gateway drug into The Craft. In it, we meet Louise, a reincarnated witch about to turn 16. On her birthday, her magical powers come back to her. She now has the power to alter the world around her, including making the captain of the football team like her, and becoming the most popular girl in school. But then a moral dilemma ensues: do all of these people actually like her for herself or is it because of her spells? Is it all just a lie?
The movie became a cult classic by airing on the Disney channel in heavy rotation, and that makes perfect sense because it has an after-school-special kind of vibe to it. The overall moral of the story – “The real magick is believing in yourself. If you can do that, you can make anything happen” – is a powerful reminder that being ourselves and accepting who we are, can be powerful spell-work for witches and non-witches alike.
In the end, (spoiler alert!) Louise realizes she doesn't need magick, and she creates her own happily-ever-after-moment after giving up her powers. I like to think that if they did a sequel to Teen Witch, Louise would be an adult, doing magick again, but in a Samantha-from-Bewitched kind of way. Nothing too scary, but she'd have the kitchen knife chop her veggies for dinner. And Brad would be her husband, of course.
What do you think of witches in the media? Are there any movies or shows you like or don't like? Head over to the forum or post below with your thoughts. And check out the VH-US podcast where I talk about Teen Witch!