Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

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Saturday, May 10, 2008

My Wizard of Oz rant

I have a confession to make. I'm not actually a huge fan of the Wizard of Oz movie. In fact, I'm reasonably sure I don't like it.

Or rather, I like it while I'm watching and seeing the colors and hearing the songs, but then when I stop to think about it...

It makes no sense!

Okay, so the ruby slippers can take Dorothy home. But instead of telling her that, the "Good Witch" makes sure she goes off to the Wizard, who's just some dick in a balloon, who decides to send her on what amounts to an assassination mission against an opponent who seriously outmatches her and in all likelihood will kill her.

And these are the good guys. "Yeah, you could go home all the time, but instead, I'm going to turn you into my pet assassin!"

As for the Witch, how do we even know she was evil? Okay, she was green and cranky and threatened the dog.

But her sister got crushed by a house and those callous munchkins were celebrating. And even if the death itself was an accident, the little brat that killed her stole her prized possession!. Which, probably, assuming the East Witch died intestate, legally ought to belong to the Wicked Witch anyway.

I'd be pissed too!

But really, the only real evidence we have to her evil is 1) what the munchkins say, which is awfully one-sided and they cheer when someone is crushed to death in front of them. 2) She's got winged monkeys and a seekrit hideout. As opposed to some carnival guy who lives in an Emerald castle with weird underlings inclined to give people makeovers who he rules via trickery with giant machines. 3) She attacked her sister's killer, which okay, really isn't kosher, but obviously given the ruling people of Oz, she wasn't going to get any sort of justice. And 4) She's ugly.

Whereas, in the movie, Glinda and the Wizard convinced a young girl that the only way she could go home was to KILL SOMEONE. When she had the way home all the time.

To be fair, if I recall the book correctly (I haven't read it since I was a proto-Kalinara) the Witch of the North wasn't the same woman who came at the end to tell her that the shoes could take her home. But in the movie? Definitely questionable.

Personally, I'd like to think the Witch faked her death. Because otherwise a) she's a moron for keeping a bucket of the one thing that can kill her in her hideout (and seriously, what was she using it for? Ever splashed someone with a bucket? You get fucking wet. Even at the age of eight I knew that that was the stupidest means of crisis resolution ever next to the genius evolutionary device that allows a bee to sting its captor and DIE) and b) the Good Witch and Wizard are too fucking incompetent to be able to kill someone so stupid that she keeps a bucket of the one thing that can kill her in her house!!!

I think in the end, this is why I don't have any interest in Wicked. I mean, it's an interesting story (from what I've been told), but ultimately, I tend to think there's more than enough support for a pro-Wicked Witch, re-viewing the movie at least, without changing or adding a lot of things out of nowhere.

The Wizard is skeevy enough without making him a rapist And why the heck does the Wicked Witch of the East have to be without arms to be sympathetic? I mean, all we really know of her is that she's possibly the bitchy woman on the bike (if that's not the Wicked Witch of the West), and she gets squished by a house. And of all the things to make "Elphaba" sympathetic, including a dead sister, a thieving killer and no hope for justice, they went with animal rights?!

That just strikes me as lazy. I usually love the idea of revisiting fairy tales and the like for sympathy for the villains. (Especially since class struggles and the like tend to feature so heavily, with any attempted change in status quo treated as evil. Call me crazy, but I don't actually have a lot of sympathy with the princess who gets bossed around by the servant girl despite her loftier birth.) But if you're not going to use things that are already there, why bother?

Meh, I still love my waaay too pretty green Wicked Witch doll though. <3 (My witch totally faked her death until the idiot Wizard went away in the balloon and the stupid girl went home. Then she went and zapped that bubble-head Glinda something good. Hmph.)


  • At May 10, 2008 5:51 AM, Blogger Ragnell said…

    She laughed a lot.

    A lot, actually. Seemed unhealthy, perhaps it was something akin to Tourrett's.

    Hmm... Does the Wizard of Oz mock and demonize the mentally ill?

    (Oh, and my Witch doll faked her death too. She spends her time chatting it up with my Wonder Woman doll.)

  • At May 10, 2008 5:55 AM, Blogger LurkerWithout said…

    I haven't read the book in a while either, but from what I remember Dorothy gets sent to the Witch of the South after the Wizard accidently leaves her behind. She's the one who sends her home. And then the Ruby Slippers fall off as shes flying over the Desert of Disentegrate Anyone That Touches It. Really. Its even in the 2nd movie...

  • At May 10, 2008 6:03 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    :-) Much less morally iffy than the movie.

    Movie Glinda's totally a bitch.

  • At May 10, 2008 6:27 AM, Blogger Flidget Jerome said…

    Man, you need to see Wicked.

  • At May 10, 2008 7:09 AM, Blogger SallyP said…

    Man, she totally faked her death at the end. Probably couldn't think of an easier way to get out of the movie. Plus American Idol was on, and she wanted a way to get home to watch it.

    I wish I had flying monkys.

  • At May 10, 2008 8:12 AM, Blogger Ami Angelwings said…

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • At May 10, 2008 8:14 AM, Blogger Ami Angelwings said…

    What are wicked witches made of if water kills them? o_O What do they eat and drink? :O

    Poor wicked witch :(

    Glinda always made me suspicious... >.>;;;

    Also her wings suck... see *I* should be the new good witch :D I'd clean up Oz in a hurry!

    Ami Angelwings for Witch of the North '08!!!! :DDD

    I need a running mate now.. >.>;;

  • At May 10, 2008 9:58 AM, Blogger Diamondrock said…

    The slippers in the book were silver. They only made them ruby for the movie to demostrate the glories of technicolor.

    Also, in the book the witch had a kickass magic helmet that controlled all flying monkeys. That's what made them do what she told them.

    Man, the book was so much better.

  • At May 10, 2008 10:04 AM, Blogger Greg Sanders said…

    Excellent rant.

    Have you seen the Futurama "Tales of Interest" where they parody Oz? It's my favorite take on it.

  • At May 10, 2008 11:02 AM, Blogger Matthew E said…

    I think in the end, this is why I don't have any interest in Wicked. I mean, it's an interesting story (from what I've been told)

    You've been told wrong. Gregory Maguire, the guy who wrote Wicked, has made a writing career out of taking the most interesting ideas he could find and making them as boring as any human being could.

  • At May 10, 2008 2:14 PM, Anonymous Nevermore said…

    Okay, you HAVE to go see Wicked now. It's the best play ever with great songs and totally calls the Wizard on his dickishness.

    Or at least buy the soundtrack.

    The book isn't as good.

  • At May 10, 2008 2:37 PM, Blogger Rand Brittain said…

    It's true; the musical version of Wicked is much better than the book (for one thing, unlike the book, this one really does have Elphaba faking her death and surviving- although she neglects to zap Glinda) and has a killer soundtrack. It also seems to take a tack with Nessarose, the Witch of the East (sort of) that I think you'd like. Idina Menzel is amazing, although you'd have to go to London to see her now.

    Yeah, in the original Wizard of Oz, there are four witches, one in each quadrant. The Witch of the North comes to Dorothy after she flattens the East-witch, and gives her directions and a magical kiss that prevents the Witch of the West from just taking the Silver Shoes off her. She tries to get around the spell by setting up invisible tripwires around the castle, and manages to get Dorothy to trip out of one shoe, but the next time she tries it, she trips and the bucket of water goes flying. Exit the Witch.

    To some degree, I think it's unnecessary to apply more complex morality and politics to stories that weren't designed for them. (Also, I'm pretty sure the Wizard's lies are for the benefit of the Witch, to scare her off, rather than to fool the Ozlanders specifically, but I'm trusting.) More people should probably read Baum's Oz sequels- I thought Ozma of Oz was pretty cool.

  • At May 10, 2008 3:18 PM, Blogger snell said…

    But you see, the whole thing was Glinda's power play to rule Oz...

  • At May 10, 2008 6:42 PM, Blogger Ununnilium said…

    Books are so much better. Ozma is the best lesbian fairy princess ever.

  • At May 10, 2008 8:50 PM, Blogger Ragtime said…

    See, I don't have any of the same problems with WoA that you do. As for the Wizard, my reading was that the witches actually thought he was all-powerful, and were just as hoodwinked as Dorothy and Co. were.

    As for the Magic shoes, my thought was that they wouldn't work for her until she had gone through her "Hero's Quest," saved her friends, and earned the right to use them.

    As for the Wicked Witch, some folks just Need Killin'.

    My problem came with the whole "I'm melting!" scene when I realized that, in fact, she was actually dissolving.

  • At May 11, 2008 1:10 AM, Anonymous lurkin' Em said…

    Gregory Maguire, the guy who wrote Wicked, has made a writing career out of taking the most interesting ideas he could find and making them as boring as any human being could.

    ...marry me?

    Anyway, yeah. Wicked, for me, was one of those books that can be categorized under "Spectacular Disappointment." I had hoped it would fit in with the Baum books to some degree, but instead we get an unrecognizable Oz filled with inconsistant and unlikeable characters. Hurray?

  • At May 11, 2008 2:37 AM, Blogger Will Staples said…

    As for the Witch, how do we even know she was evil?

    Well, she did have all those slaves in her castle.

  • At May 11, 2008 2:39 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Do we know they were slaves? We know they liked to chant and such, but so do a lot of people. Maybe she pays well. :-)

  • At May 11, 2008 3:15 AM, Blogger LurkerWithout said…

    The giant celebration the Winkies throw after her death kind of hints she wasn't the most popular of bosses. Plus the whole using a the magic cap to enslave the flying monkeys...

  • At May 11, 2008 3:16 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Psst. Movie. Not book. :-P

  • At May 11, 2008 8:06 AM, Blogger Will Staples said…

    The Winkies did celebrate in the movie, though. (At least I think so, it's been years.)

  • At May 12, 2008 1:13 AM, Blogger Technocracygirl said…

    Go. See. Wicked.

    Forget about the book; after Elphaba leaves the Emerald City, it becomes boring doggerel. Maguire has the ability to take really cool ideas and turn them into not-good stories. (He may be going for some sort of High Literature that I just don't recognize, because all I'm looking for is a Good Story.

    When they turned Wicked into a musical, they ignored the stupid bits, punched up the character storylines, and tossed the High Literature crap. Much, much, much better.

    And Ozma is not just the best lesbian fairy princess ever. Ozma is the best *transsexual* lesbian fairy princess ever.

    Ozma/Glinda forever!

  • At May 12, 2008 1:47 AM, Blogger Hale of Angelthorne said…

    Also, L. Frank Baum was a racist tool who wrote an editorial right after the 1890 Wounded Knee Massacre calling for the extermination of all Indians. Yes, it was THAT subtle.

  • At May 12, 2008 1:48 PM, Blogger Ferrous Buller said…

    I'll just take this opportunity to drop a link for Cheshire Crossing, which is about how Alice from Wonderland, Wendy from Peter Pan, and Dorothy from Wizard of Oz end up stuck together as teenagers - with Miss Poppins as their teacher.

    It's surprisingly amusing for what essentially amounts to Victorian literary crossover fanfic. "League of Extraordinary Tweeners," so to speak. :-)

  • At May 15, 2008 2:16 PM, Blogger Mana G said…

    Hee...Oh, yes. Everything I've ever felt about the Wizard of Oz and Wicked! You see, I always would've figured Ozma would make for more interesting material for a longer-form, more adult-oriented novel, given the fact that she spends her childhood AS A BOY. If I recall coreectly -- and I probably don't -- Baum doesn't exactly cover the transgender issues inherent in Ozma's story. I had always kinda hoped SOMEONE would have.
    Yeah, but as far as Wicked the novel goes...I agree that it all falls apart after Emerald City. It's sad, because the Elpheba that we had seen up to that point was a wonderful character, brilliant, funny, friendly, cynical, and then it (and she) just falls apart.


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