Apr 19, 2016

10 Things I Hate About the Wizard of Oz

From 1959 to 1991, The Wizard of Oz, was shown on tv every year, on CBS until 1968, and then on NBC.

Nazarenes weren't allowed to go to movie theaters, but watching movies on tv was fine, so our parents sat us down every year and forced us to watch the "beloved children's classic."

Apparently it was shown in November or December, but I remember it in the springtime, one of the traumas of the end of the year.

It's old-fashioned, outdated, incomprehensible, and...well, horrifying.

1. Dorothy, played by 16-year old Judy Garland, the queen of angst, lives a horrible life on a Depression-Era Dustbowl farm in black-and-white Kansas. Her parents are dead; her elderly Uncle and Aunt appear to be raising man-eating pigs.

 Her only source of joy is her dog Toto, but the evil Miss Gulch is planning to take him away and have him killed.  She wants to go to a place where there "isn't any trouble."

2. A giant tornado destroys her home and zaps her off to Oz, where at least things are in color, but the main residents are disturbing munchkins who look like little adults with mouth deformities, but act like kids.  Could this be the place with no trouble?

3. She's assassinated the dictator of Munchkin land and stolen her ruby slippers, which apparently are powerful.  The Wicked Witch of the West, the dictator of Winkie Land, shows up.  She thinks Dorothy is hot ("I'll get you, my pretty."  But she wants to kill her anyway, get the slippers, and take over Munchkin land.

In Oz five minutes, and Dorothy has already started a war.  No wonder she wants to go home to Kansas.

4. She goes on a journey through an empty postapocalyptic Oz to get to the Emerald City and ask the assistance of the great and powerful Wizard.  Along the way she picks up adult male companions, mutants with their own quests: a brain, a heart, the "noive."

She's uncomfortably intimate with the Cowardly Lion.

Meanwhile the Witch burns, poisons, and otherwise terrorizes the group.  I hated the poppy field -- that's opium poppies, the source of heroin -- where Dorothy and company are almost smothered to death.

Incomprehensible: when the Scarecrow's body is torn up and scattered around, the Tin Man says "That's you all over," punning on 1930s slang.  Who makes a joke about a friend being torn to pieces?

5. At the Emerald City, where the bourgeoisie live in glorious excess, working one-hour work days and ignoring the deprivations of the proletariat, Dorothy and company enjoy a spa day.  Dorothy asks about getting her eyes dyed, which is disgusting.  There's an incomprehensible reference to "a horse of a different color."

6. After trying to terrorize them for awhile, the Wizard says he'll help, but only if they steal the Witch's broom.

They undertake a second long and perilous journey to the Witch's castle, where they are captured.  The flying monkeys are horrifying, as is the hourglass that counts out the minutes Dorothy has to live.  Nightmare time!

After almost being murdered, Dorothy melts the witch, frees her slaves -- at least in The Wiz, they were hunky guys in speedos -- and brings the broom back to the Wizard.

7. Who has no power at all!  He's a complete fraud!  He sent her on the quest assuming she would be killed, and his secret would be safe. Too cowardly to commit your own murders, Wiz?

The Wizard suggests that the companions defraud their way through life.  The Scarecrow gets a diploma he didn't earn and spouts some gibberish that sounds brainy but isn't.  He'll probably become a math professor.

Unfortunately, Dorothy can't defraud her back to Kansas.

8. Glinda the Good Witch, the dictator of Gillikan Land, shows up and, with an infuriating smirk, tells Dorothy that she always had the power to go home.

Why not tell her this before she went through all of the agony and terror, you sadistic jerk?

Were you trying to get her to do your dirty work for you, assassinate two world leaders so you could consolidate your power?  Were you the brains behind this whole trip?

And why is the matra that takes you back to Kansas "There's no place like home"?  That is, don't stay in Oz.  Is Glinda worried that if Dorothy sticks around, she will be a threat?

9.  Upon arriving back in Kansas, Dorothy discovers that it was all a dream that occurred when she hit her head during the tornado.  All of that trouble, pain, betrayal, fraud, and behind-the-scene machinations for nothing.  Besides, the plot about Miss Gulch taking away Toto is never resolved.  Dorothy's life is still horrible.

10. After all that, there are no same-sex relationships, and there's no beefcake. Where's the gay content?  (The "dandy-lion" doesn't count.)

Oh, well, here's a picture of a shirtless guy.

See also: The Wiz; The Boys and Men of Oz