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Why it's cool to be a witch; LECTURER ADMIRES SHIFT IN FILMS.

Byline: CATHERINE TURNELL

WITCHES have shaken off 2,000 years of bad press to become a positive symbol of female power in TV and film, says a Warwick University researcher.

Gone is the image of old, stooped women in pointy hats casting evil spells. In fact, the image of witchcraft has shaken off its murky past and is now decidedly feminine and cool.

Rachel Moseley, lecturer in film and television studies, says the shift can be seen in TV shows such as Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Charmed or films The Craft and Practical Magic.

In her paper Glamorous Witchcraft, to be published in Screen magazine, Moseley says programmes like Sabrina are positive, giving girls power fantasies, while the magic also helps the lead character deal with school and romantic entanglements.

She said: "Historically, witches have been outcasts and much of this unease clearly stems from a fear of female force. The teenage witch genre articulates a new powerful image of femininity. It's not that the hag and herb potions have become hip, rather witchcraft has become synonymous with power and girlie magic."

Coventry pagan witch Joanne Gailey, aged 33, says: "I wouldn't say (Charmed) is realistic, but I would say it has helped dispel a lot of myth. Most imagine the gothic type, dressed in black, but very few of us are like that.

"The girls in Charmed don't look anything like your typical witch, but paganism is a very empowering thing for females because it's a goddess religion. I think the glamour side is embracing the feminine."

catherine.turnell@mrn.co.uk

CAPTION(S):

HAPPY WITH CHANGE: Coventry pagan witch Joanne Gailey sits in a ring of stones in her back garden; MAGIC: Melissa Joan Hart as Sabrina
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Feb 26, 2003
Words:293
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