But she is the leader.
Witches are having a pop culture moment, says everyone in the universe. Witches are currently more popular than Congress (but still less popular than dog poop, which is surprisingly well-regarded by Americans). NY Daily News wrote an article about the ubiquity of the witch, and, as a bonus, it sounds as though it may have been transcribed from the ramblings of a crone communing with the spirits. Flavorwire, too, is all over it. The New Inquiry has an entire issue devoted to the topic. Witches are the new vampires, the rabid hoards have decreed, cradling vials of mugwort and embracing sisterhood all the while (sorry, mermaids, but literally no one believed in you if that's any consolation).
Witches aren't really the new vampires, though — they're far superior to vampires, as far as pervasive supernatural pop culture reference points go. This is because the specter of "vampire" in pop culture originally sprung forth from anxieties about female autonomy and sexual liberation. Accordingly, most of the popular vampire narratives circulating around are sexist and borderline abusive (looking at you, Twilight and Twilight's demon spawn, 50 Shades of Grey).
Witches, conversely, have the potential to be all about female empowerment. All witch media automatically passes the Bechdel test, because witches gather in covens and talk about potion ingredients all the time. If you don't believe me, you can walk your smarmy lil' ass to the library and pick up a copy of Macbeth. Furthermore, witches are capable, smart and powerful — and they're natural enemies of patriarchy, via the historical patriarchal practice of murdering women for not submitting to a system of male dominance.
And so, as Jezebel's Staff Witch (check the masthead, that is my official position) (just kidding, do not check the masthead; I haven't figured out the masthead-changing-spell yet), I would like to open up the floor for a discussion about witches. Namely, who is the Best Witch In All Of Popular Culture? Here are a few suggestions, gleaned from my many years of study (watching Practical Magic in my bed while eating a cornucopia of snacks):
- Aunt Frances and Aunt Jet in Practical Magic
Okay, these witches are the clear front-runners in my mind. This is mostly because they hang out in a beautiful house, they have fun in the garden doin' whatever, they do not worry about men, and if you begin to chant "midnight margaritas," they are obligated by some ancient, unspoken magick to drink an entire blender of margaritas at midnight.
- The witches of The Craft
Anthropologists of the future will spend hours asking themselves why we regarded Citizen Kane as the height of cinematic achievement when we were all fully cognizant of The Craft's existence. I can assure you of that. Anyway, although 3/4 of this coven was malicious and power-crazed, they did use their powers combined to battle the systematic forces of racism and sexism (kind of? They bullied that horrible racist girl and that slut-shaming popular guy!). Also, they summoned Manon. I would like to see any of you try and do that.
- Teen Witch
Teen Witch should be regarded as a goddess because it is through her benevolence that the rap song "Top That" exists.
- Hermione from Harry Potter
Hermione is very smart/good at spells; also, a positive role model because she's industrious and involved in political causes and does not bow to Slytherin pressure to change her hair.
- The Worst Witch
Well, this one is clearly the worst, otherwise they would have called her something else.
WHO IS THE BEST WITCH IN ALL OF POP CULTURE? Let us open the debate; take it away and submit your entries below.
EDIT: WILLOW FROM BUFFY IS ONE OF THE BEST WITCHES. I was witch-shamed for this egregious oversight, and rightfully so.