We’re off to see the Wizard with this flashback from ten years ago.
NOVEMBER 16, 1998: Bad Craziness in The Wizard of Oz
As promised, we went off to see the The Wizard of Oz this weekend, and had a riotous time doing so. Our friends who went to see Oz earlier in the week had described it as “creepy,” which did not jibe with my own memories, but now having seen it again, I know exactly what they were talking about. There’s only one way to describe this movie, and it comes down to three words: Very Bad Drugs.
The Munchkins were in particular tremendously disturbing, not for their size, which they couldn’t help, but for their clothing, which was obviously designed as punishment of some sort. One can’t help but think that the reason that they were relieved that Dorothy dropped the house on the Wicked Witch of the East was that now they could dress in something that didn’t look like a drag queen’s peyote-induced memories of kindergarten.
Dorothy, of course, the serial murderer of an oppressed religious minority, the Wiccans. Dorothy whacked two witches in the course of the film (and sisters at that), and her only excuse was “I didn’t mean to.” Well, you can buy that excuse maybe once, and get away with a lesser charge (a falling house may qualify as vehicular manslaughter). But, look: Dorothy wiped out that entire family. Add to that two counts of theft (for the ruby red slippers and the broomstick), and you come to realization that Dorothy should be glad she’s not in Kansas anymore. Kansas, if I recall correctly, has the death penalty.
Murders, thefts, ceaseless drug references (falling asleep in a field of poppies? Only to be awakened by white flaky crystals falling from the sky? Come on), alternative lifestyles (if the Tin Man were any more flaming, the Scarecrow would have been a pile of ash), and, let’s not forget, bad clothes. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is a family classic. Of course, kids don’t really latch on to things like subtext, partially because much of the “subtext” is created by smartass adults amusing themselves at the movie’s expense, like, well, me. They just enjoy the scenery and the story, both of which connect on a pretty simple level.
It occurred to me watching “Oz” that (to air a cliche) that really don’t make ’em like this anymore. It would be impossible to see a studio head greenlighting something like this today if it weren’t animated, and even then, changes would have to be made (Dorothy couldn’t actually kill the Wicked Witch of the West; she would instead be disposed of through the favored Animated Villain Death, the Fall From A Great Height Into The Fog Below). It’s all the more reason I’m glad I got to see it in a theater, and why, should it come out again in another decade or so, I’ll take my daughter to see it as well.