Brothers Grinn mailing (March 7, 2004)
Mar 07, 2004 15:31 PST
The Brothers Grinn present our
March 7, 2004, mailing!
THE BLACK MAGIC OF THE WIZARD OF OZ
By Jocko Grinn (w/ a few unreviewed edits by Smirkov)
Mother Seton Regional High School, a Catholic school near where I work,
is about to present a stage production of "The Wizard of Oz" later this
For some reason -- I suspect itís because of the overly saccharin flavor
of the 1939 MGM Studios movie -- this is a popular show for high schools
and middle schools to perform. I wish that just once somebody would have
the courage to tell the story the way it cries out to be told.
My 4-year-old daughter recently discovered the movie, and, feeling
fatherly, I agreed to watch it with her. I think I made it as far the
Munchkins before I became hyperglycemic and collapsed on the floor.
My wife found me about an hour later, deep in a coma, when she came to
investigate the fruity smell that had begun to permeate the house. She
had to play "One Flew Over the Cuckooís Nest" and "Brazil" for seven
days straight before she could revive me. (As it was, some smart aleck
had switched the DVD for "Brazil" with "Itís a Wonderful Life," and she
nearly lost me.)
The truth is, watching "The Wizard of Oz" doesnít have to be a nearly
fatal experience for anyone. With a director guided by a proper
understanding of the movie, watching "The Wizard of Oz" actually can be
fun for adults in the family -- not just for little children who have
been spoon-fed Chicken Soup for the Soul pabulum since birth under the
guise of protecting them from reality.
The first thing to consider is the nature of villainy: We peg the Wicked
Witch of the West for the villain because weíve been brought up a steady
diet of antagonists who look evil. Remember the deformed dark lord
Voldemort, or Maleficent from "Sleeping Beauty" (the self-proclaimed
"Mistress of All Evil!") or giant flaming "cat eyes" like Sauron,
perched atop disturbing gothic structures placed inexplicably in the
middle of a volcano-strewn wasteland?
The Wicked Witch of the West not only is green, but she has a pointy hat
and a broomstick, and she has a tremendous cackle. Cruelest of all, in
Baumís book, she even threatens to make Dorothy do housework.
Pish-posh, I tell you. We should be so lucky to live in a world where
evil has bad breath and can be identified so easily, or if the bad guy
always has horns on his head. The world isnít that simple, and even the
Devil (when he can't appear as an angel of light) usually at a minimum
manages the form of a newspaper editor or the secretary of education.
Once you consider the witchís motivation, you'll see she is actually
pretty harmless. All she wants is the ruby slippers that belonged to her
sister, the Wicked Witch of the East, who had the misfortune of standing
where Dorothyís house landed.
That's a harmless-enough request. If a house landed on my brother, I
think the least someone could do would be to give me the shoes he was
wearing at the time, just as a keepsake. I might not be too keen on
wearing them myself if they were ruby-red, or even silver like the shoes
in the book (he actually has a pair of each in a closet that he thinks I
don't know about, the fop), but it doesnít seem likely the witches were
called "wicked" because they had impeccable fashion sense.
Be that as it may, the witch wants her sisterís slippers. For reasons
not readily apparent, Glinda, previously introduced as the good witch of
the north, decides to put the slippers on Dorothyís feet.
Itís important to note that thereís no discussion here. Glinda doesnít
ask Dorothy if she wants to wear the slippers. She doesnít even check to
see if the colors will go well with Dorothyís outfit. She just twinkles
her magic wand, and voila! Dorothy is now wearing the ruby slippers of a
dead woman. As a result, she immediately receives the enmity of the
Wicked Witch of the West, who wants those slippers back and is prepared
to make Dorothy fold laundry to get her way, if things become desperate
Now you might think that since all Dorothy wants is to go home, and that
since Glinda is a good witch, she might be willing to give her a hand.
But NO, Glinda insists that the only person who can help Dorothy is some
self-proclaimed "Wizard of Oz," the ruler of a far-off city.
So now Dorothy has to trek all the way to Oz, picking up help as she
goes from such unlikely sources as the Cowardly Lion, the Tin Man, and
Elton John. In the movie, she has the added travail of hair that canít
decide how itís supposed to be done, with pigtails that change their
length at regular intervals and frequently donít match.
When Dorothy finally does reach Oz, with the bad hair days and terrible
songs now a series of painful memories, the wizard reveals that he has a
longstanding grudge with the wicked witch himself and sends Dorothy on
the mission of getting the witchís broomstick.
Itís during this point in the story that Dorothy is captured, and her
friends muster the courage, compassion, and musical talent no one ever
knew they had, in order to rescue her. Not only do they rescue her, they
get the broom and kill the witch in the process.
By now, it should become increasingly clear why Glinda gave Dorothy the
slippers. When she landed in Oz, Dorothy killed the Wicked Witch of the
East. Now she and her friends have killed the Wicked Witch of the West.
Once they return to Oz, Toto the annoying yip-yip dog reveals to
everyone that the "Great and Powerful Oz" is a con man who has been
using his razzle-dazzle and flair for the theatrical to lord it over the
superstitious residents of Oz. Disgraced, he leaves Oz in a balloon and
is never seen again.
At this point, with two wicked witches dead and the wizard exposed as a
charlatan, Dorothy unknowingly has created a tremendous power vacuum in
the political and magical structure of Oz. Who is left to fill that
Why, Glinda, obviously.
The Good Witch of the South is mentioned but never appears. One can only
imagine how Glinda dispatched her other rival before dropping a house on
the Wicked Witch of the East.
Dorothy, dupe that she is, laments that she has no way to go home. But
if she had read the book ahead of time, she would have realized that she
could have gone home any time simply by clicking her heels. That is
exactly what she does, and she remains blissfully unaware of the horrors
she has unleashed upon Oz.
With Dorothy now gone, we can only imagine how Glinda has enslaved the
Munchkins, melted the Tin Man down for spare parts, and sicíced flying
monkeys on any who dare to oppose her iron-fisted rule. Even the
Fellowship of the Ring, who never considered squirting lemon juice into
Sauron's eye to distract him, would be hard-pressed to defeat this
hardened Ice-Capades-reject diva.
Iíve shared my vision for "The Wizard of Oz" with several friends and
co-workers, and none of them has been able to find any holes in my
thinking. Several have remarked that they never will be able to see the
movie the same way again. If Glinda ever tries to expand her kingdom
into our world, sheís going to have her hands full.
II. CHARACTERS REJECTED FROM "THE WIZARD OF OZ" MOVIE
(in Favor of the Cowardly Lion, et al.)
1. Howard, the Orkin Man
2. Flopsy-Mopsy, the Ill-Tempered Rabbit
3. That moth-ridden talking cat puppet from "Sabrina, the Teenage
4. A clod of dirt.
5. A handful of magical Mexican jumping beans.
6. A handful of unmagical but toxic Mighty Beans.
7. "Plank," from "Ed, Edd, and Eddy"
8. Michael Jacks... (err, wait a second)
9. Mr. Hand (from South Park)
10. Puggsly, The Giant Obnoxious Raccoon
11. Pat ďNuke ĎEm All, Toto!Ē Robertson
12. Cujo, the Relentlessly Affectionate Dog
13. Nancy, the Socially Abandoned Witch of the North-North-East
14. Hildi, the Crazy Artsy-Fartsy Witch from "Trading Spaces"
TO COMPLAIN THAT YOU WERE NOT SELECTED TO STAR IN MOTHER SETONíS
REGIONAL HIGH SCHOOLíS VERSION OF THE WIZARD OF OZ, write to:
To join or remove yourself from the list, see the nifty attachments
added by Topica -- they'll tell you how to do it, hopefully in more
understandable prose than the typical VCR manual written by a Munchkin
for whom English is a fourth language (after Munchkin, Flying Monkey,
and Disgruntled Apple-Throwing Tree).
III. LEGAL STUFF
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and their images and likenesses are the intellectual property and
trademarks of Ravensmyth Corp. Unauthorized use strictly prohibited,
used here by permission. Iíll get you, Ken Collins, and your little dog
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