Regardless of how old I get, Hocus Pocus will always hold a special place in my heart. Not only does it offer up addictive musical numbers and hilarious dialogue (yabbos, LOL), but it's also surprisingly educational. (Admit it, you totally didn't know what a virgin was until this film.) But while the common theme of the plot is watching good children prevail over evil witches, I'd like to offer up a counter-argument in defense of the Sanderson Sisters from Hocus Pocus. I know, I know, I can practically hear my own witch hunt commencing as I write this, but before you light the match, hear me out on this one. Because while the Sanderson trio may be the obvious villains in this tale, some of their actions aren't completely without merit.
First of all, it's worth noting that 1693 was a very dangerous time to be a woman, thanks to the Salem Witch Trials being in full swing. It was a male-dominated world (huh, that sounds... eerily familiar?), where career opportunities for women were few and far between. If being a witch was all they knew, they had very limited resources at their disposal to really become anything else outside of their industry. With that in mind, it's possible that being in the soul-sucking business wasn't so much a choice as it was a necessity, thereby making them victims of their own circumstances.
My working theory (yes, I'm that cool that I have working theories about this film) is that Winnie, Sarah, and Mary were so obsessed with looking younger — not for their own vanity, but rather for their own safety. Maybe, in their minds, men could be easily manipulated and fooled if presented with a pretty face. It would certainly help to explain why Sarah is always raving about all the benefits that come with being beautiful and how it somehow equates to boys loving her.
Why are those two things mutually exclusive in her mind? I say it's because it was the key to her ongoing survival back then. She wouldn't need for her victims to find her attractive because a.) they were children, so gross, and b.) her magical voice did all the work for her. So, in my opinion, Sarah's physical appearance served as her main weapon of choice against men, used to distract them from her witchy ways. It's no wonder why she was so obsessed with her looks then — she thought it meant she'd get to live a little longer!
Thankfully, we've grown so much as a society that the objectification of women is no longer a concer—
But don't worry, my friends. That isn't the only Hocus Pocus theory I have in my arsenal. (What do you take me for, an amateur?) I've also considered the possibility that the sisters' actions had very little to do with the time period from which (witch?) they came, and everything to do with the one thing every person (witch, human, or otherwise) fears most in this world: disappointing their parents. There's very little mention of Winnie, Sarah, and Mary's mother other than the occasional confirmation that she's currently burning in hell. NBD. And there's absolutely no mention of their father.
Regardless, one could easily assume that their mom was also witch back in the day. Maybe they just felt obligated to carry on the witch legacy.
But now please let me turn your attention to the true monstrosity of this film. The one flaw within its otherwise hysterical and entertaining depths that never fails to incite outrage and frustration from my still-very-present soul. It all boils down to one character: Emily Binx.
The movie kicks off with the disappearance of Thackery Binx's sister, Emily. Realizing her absence is probably a bad sign, pre-cat Binx sets out to find her. He notices her jovially heading into the woods. He calls out to her, but she either ignores or doesn't hear him. Binx follows her to the Sanderson cabin and attempts to free her from their clutches. But here's the thing... did she really even want to be saved?
Take a moment to go back and really watch that scene play out. Emily puts zero effort into her own rescue attempt. Unlike Dani, who tried to scream and claw herself free every chance she got while kidnapped, Emily could not have seemed more chill with the fact that she was about to become a tasty sand-"witch" buffet — tonight's special: soul food. (Too soon?)
Let's compare the two, shall we? Here's Dani, understandably upset about her current predicament and trying very hard to escape:
And then there's Emily, who looks complacent and dare I say almost BORED with the whole situation.
(Also, I'm only now noticing that these are two very different wooden chairs. When did the sisters have time to stop at Pottery Barn?!)
Why didn't Emily try to go to her brother's aid? A brother who was risking his own life trying to save her. But no, it's fine. She'd apparently much rather watch him get TURNED INTO A FRICKIN' CAT than get an inch of that white nightgown dirty. (Seriously, how is that thing not covered in dirt? They are in the middle of the WOODS.)
When faced with danger, most humans resort to Walter Bradford Cannon's fight-or-flight response. But not Emily. She's not running away or standing her ground. In fact, she's not standing at all. She's not even tied up. There was no need. If they didn't show Winnie doing it herself, I would've suspected that Emily even helped make the potion that killed her because WHY NOT? Actually, never mind, that would've required way too much effort on her part.
Then there's Max who was responsible for lighting the Black Flame Candle. No one forced him to do it, but once the deed was done, can you really blame the sisters for doing everything they could to survive? They were asleep for 300 years. And while that may sound downright delightful to some (this can't just be me, right?), I can understand the desire to make their return last for more than just a few hours.
Look, I get it. This is a pretty controversial topic to discuss, especially considering the main goal of all three of these women is to suck the lives out of innocent children as a means to regain their youth. (You know, typical Babysitter's Club-type stuff.) Generally speaking, this is not an ideal life goal — though once you've been on the receiving end of full-blown temper-tantrum in the middle of a Target, you might start to come around on the idea.
So yeah, I'll concede that soul-stealing is wrong pretty much 99.8 percent of the time. But as for that remaining .2 percent, it's enough to make the mind run amuck, amuck, amuck!
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