I finally got around to seeing The Wizard of Oz.
The Wizard of Oz is an amazing and historically significant movie. It was both a technological and choreographic accomplishment which still holds up in 2019.
The screenplay is written like Lewis Carroll took a bunch of shrooms at a worlds fair and tried to write a Gothic fairy tale musical for the silver screen in 1939.
The production design is high key dope. The film features multiple impressive sets throughout. This movies visual style demonstrates its age, as it appears that everything was done on a sound stage in studio, and generally shots remind me of how one might shoot a live theater project rather than a cinematic film.
I very much enjoyed this film, so I decided to write some thoughts I had about it. Spoilers for this 1939 classic are ahead!
Glinda’s consolidation of power and hegemony
Something occurred to me which peaked my curiosity. The witch Glinda is the big winner in the story of Oz. Perhaps the “good” witch isn’t so good at all. Throughout the film all of her competitors including 2 wicked witches and a bullshitting wizard are removed, allowing her to consolidate power.
When Dorothy arrives in Oz, she accidentally kills a witch. This is an impressive accomplishment for any young witch hunter, much less a brand new witch hunter like Dorothy! With a house no less! The “good” witch Glinda shows up after Dorothy’s first murder and basically presses Dorothy into her service.
Firstly she forces Dorothy to wear the ruby shoes, thus drawing the wrath of Glinda’s primary enemy the Wicked Witch of the West. Next, she tells Dorothy that if she wants to go home she needs to visit the Wizard of Oz, who she knows has beef with the Wicked Witch of the West. He is also Glinda’s political rival. We find out at the end that Dorothy could go home this entire time.
Glinda may call herself a good witch, but her manipulation of Dorothy and slow removal of political opposition is nothing short of demagogic behavior. Dorothy straight domes two of Glinda’s competitors and then exposes the final one as a fraud. In the process, Glinda takes full hegemonic control of the entire land of Oz, after which she sent the witch hunter home.
Another creepy aspect is that Glinda appears to have brainwashed all the munchkins into hating green skinned witches. Did the munchkins have a song about killing witches memorized in preparation for her demise? There is a whole routine and choreography. Did Glinda teach them that, or have they just been sitting on that number waiting for some rando to merc the Wicked Witch of the East this whole time? Regardless, it seems that Glinda has a lot of political influence over the war like Munchkin people.
The cult of the Wizard of Oz
Apparently this war lord named the Wizard of Oz colonized the modernist futuristic city called the Emerald city. Glinda sends Dorothy there, alone, to seek a favor from this Wizard who she presumably knows is fake. To Dorothy though, the city operates as a form of propaganda. The Emerald city’s beauty convinces Dorothy that the Wizard is legit, because when you surround yourself in the trappings of wealth people assume you are powerful. It would seem that the Wizard of Oz may have attended the worlds fair in 1893, for his technology is reminiscent of that time period’s sensibilities.
The Wizard of Oz started a cult in the Emerald city, where everyone dresses up in green and worships him as a god. He has sent word to all of the land of Oz that he is a bad ass motherfucker who is not to be trifled with, because he a motherfucking wizard. Those who think he might be a cult leader are shunned from the city, because he already told them that people would say that! After all, they are all so nice there, how could it be a cult?
So the protagonist of the story, Dorothy and her friends are totally blind sided when he is actually some old dude standing behind a curtain. Once he was found out, he immediately abandons his city. I mean, who knows what happens right after this movie. I wouldn’t be surprised if the “good” witch of the north comes down and just fucking takes over emerald city. Afterall, her powers are hella real unlike the fraud known as the Wizard of Oz.
So here’s my best guess at the Wizard of Oz’s true motives. So this guy shows up this land of Oz, where there are three powerful women who just dominate the place. The wicked witch of the east, the wicked witch of the west, and the self described good witch of the north Glinda. These powerful and aggressive women challenge his masculinity, so he decides that he is going to pretend to be a wizard.
He uses this persona to gain influence and hegemonic control to make him feel like he is a strong and powerful man, better than these women. This form of masculinity is known as hegemonic masculinity and is associated with anxiety about ones manliness. He wants to prove that he is the strongest, but in the end he is beaten by a dog.
The problem is that he is just posturing. He can’t back up his power. Sure he builds this powerful looking city with a big gate and a lot of security features. But its all an illusion. So when this powerful witch hunter named Dorothy shows up, he figures he could pull off one last scam. They are asking for shit he does not have the ability to give, so he fakes it. He says he’ll fulfill their wishes if they do one simple thing: Carry out a hit on the wicked witch.
The Wizard of Oz’s very weird gifts
The Wizard of Oz is a class A asshole and con man, a sort of Donald Trump type character. Like the whole movie is about four people who risk life, freedom, and safety to achieve important goals, only to have stupid capitalist trinkets offered to them instead.
The Lion wants courage — The Wizard gives him some fake ass medal for bravery, even though he as a coward the WHOLE MOVIE. Also, I am pretty sure the Wizard implied that veterans of war don’t have more courage than a lion who runs away from everything.
Scarecrow wants a brain — The Wizard is like “nah, brains overrated G” and then he just forges a diploma for him, and says it’s okay because people who got diplomas are stupid too. And for some reason he recites the Pythagorean theorem? So… that was weird.
Tin Man wants a heart — The Wizard says he is lucky to not have a heart, and that he doesn’t need one to do good things, he just needs a testimonial? I don’t understand that because the Tin Man never expresses a desire to do good, he expresses a desire to FEEL shit. Then the Wizard tells him “And remember my sentimental friend: a heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others.” Make that your insta bio immediately, because that’s a hot take.
Dorthy just wants a ride home, which he does offer her to be fair. But then he leaves without her. So really Dorothy was given nothing for her Witch hunting skills. So these people just exploited the HELL out of Dorothy’s professional labor.
All in all, dope movie. It reminded me of Game of Thrones or Breaking Bad. This is a brutal story of fantasy violence, Opium abuse, and sociopathic munchkins singing show tunes at the top of their lungs while dancing in highly choreographed routines that some one of two wicked witches died.
- As a side note, Matt Bucy is the top result when you google Wizard of Oz full movie, so the guy nailed the SEO. He recut the film so that it’s… special. You should watch that cut for yourself.
- Do the munchkins lay eggs, or just enjoy putting their babies in nests?
- Who took over the flying monkey army after the witch died? I mean, I know they hated her too, but that’s just a standing army ready to be used by a powerful leader.
- I will not accept that this was all a dream, that is a garbage cop out.