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SYFY WIRE witchy wednesday

Forget kidnapping; Banjo Kazooie's Gruntilda just needs some basic hygiene advice

By Laura Dale

Here on SYFY WIRE FANGRRLS, we carve out Wednesdays every week to talk all things witches. While many times that means gushing about our favorite all-powerful magic-wielding ladies, today we’re going to use our platform to talk about a witch who really didn’t need magical powers to solve her own biggest problem.

Released for the Nintendo 64 back in 1998, the plot of Banjo Kazooie was pretty simple. You play as a bear named Banjo, whose younger sister Tooty has been kidnapped by the evil witch Gruntilda. With the help of your bird friend Kazooie, you explore a bunch of fantasy worlds, fight your way to the witch, and stop her from stealing the physical beauty from Tooty.

Gruntilda is the epitome of swamp hag style witch, entirely speaking in rhyme, and casting foul fates upon people. She’s presented initially as being evil for the sake of being evil, but some later sections of her dialogue reveal that she really just wants to be liked.

Now, I understand the desire to halt the physical effects of aging as much as the next person, we all age and we all struggle a little with that feeling, but I don’t think Gruntilda actually needs to kidnap a young girl and use a machine to steal her beauty to be beautiful. Not kidnapping people, as well as adhering to some basic hygiene improvements, would really go a long way to helping make her more attractive to the world at large.


As you go through Banjo Kazooie, you’ll encounter Gruntilda’s nicer sister, Brentilda, multiple times. Brentilda will frequently tell you little factoids about Gruntilda and her personal hygiene, and the more of them I read, the more I understand why everyone is avoiding Gruntilda’s presence.

According to Brentilda, Gruntilda washes her hair with rancid milk, is the winner of the dirtiest undies contest, eats dog dung burgers every night, drinks elephant-sweat smoothies daily, and sleeps in a literal pile of trash. Assuming these facts are accurate, no amount of stolen youth is going to make Gruntilda an appealing person to be around.

Sure, Gruntilda might walk out of that beauty-theft machine with an hourglass figure and a few decades off her life, but if she keeps up these horrid hygiene practices she’s pretty quickly going to return to smelling pretty vulgar.

Seriously, just wash your hair with shampoo and water, wash your underwear full-stop, don’t eat feces, don’t drink sweat, and find yourself a cheap mattress to sleep on. That’s 99% of your problems fixed right there.

Gruntilda End

Additionally, her machine completely overlooks the importance of inner beauty compared to outer beauty. Sure, Gruntilda’s machine may leave Tooty fairly misshapen in appearance, but at the end of the day, Tooty is still going to be able to go home to a brother who loves her and thinks she’s wonderful the way she is. Gruntilda is still going to live alone, in an empty lair shaped like her own face, hated by anyone who hears a word of what she did. Crimes against others are not the way to get people to love you.

Lastly, Gruntilda’s most evil act, the beauty stealing machine, isn’t even her using magic; it’s just her sidekick inventing something. What kind of witch doesn’t even use their own magic for their master plan? Seriously, if you’re going to be an evil witch, at least commit to the bit and use your magic to do the evil deed.

Look, I get it, Gruntilda. You’re lonely and sad and wish people liked you more. I know you think kidnapping someone and taking their physical beauty will solve all your problems, but maybe instead just try walking out of the house and making some new friends. Clean up your hygiene routine, say hi to the neighbors, and see if they’ll let you hang out with them. That seems so much easier of a way to get what you seem to want.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author's, and do not necessarily reflect those of SYFY WIRE, SYFY, or NBC Universal.