Thursday, April 23, 2009


You know how you happen to glance at something and suddenly, without any rumination whatsoever, an idea will pop into your head fully-formed? Well, J's iChat avatar this week (for part of it, anyway) was the Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz. His quote was "With the thoughts I'd be thinkin', I could be another Lincoln..." Now, some might disupute that J could be another Lincoln, but as he is my only reader, I will not.

Well, for whatever reason, seeing the Scarecrow suddenly and without transition brought a question/concern/conundrum into my head. Dorothy flies to Oz, lands her house on the Wicked Witch of the East, and kills her. Glenda asks if she’s a good witch or a bad witch, but of course she’s neither—she’s an outsider from another world. So Dorothy then goes on a journey through this mystical land, and ends up killing the other Bad Witch, which nobody in Oz had apparently thought to do for themselves. Then she flies away again, this time in a balloon piloted by another outsider who has until recently been dictator-for-life. So here's my issue:

Dorothy isn't even from there. She's not a citizen, she doesn't pay taxes, she comes in without so much as a by-your-leave, completely disrupts the status quo and balance of power, and then disappears. What about the people left behind who suddenly have to deal with the power vacuum? How long would the two good witches actually remain good with all that BadWitch real estate opening up? The whole system of checks and balances would crumble and fall apart and you'd end up with a pair of tyrants floating around in bubbles forcing people to starch their skirts and wear glitter.

So what seems like a fairy tale about being transported to a magical land and becoming a hero by killing the baddies, is, from the Ozian’s perspective, nothing more than the machinations of a foreign power to impose its own moral imperative and system of governance. And of course the Ozians are all dancing with exuberance at the end, because the book was written by a white male Westerner and of course those poor downtrodden yoiks are thrilled to be liberated from tyranny and intellectual and moral stagnation.

Of course what really happened is that as soon as the balloon was out of sight, anarchy set in and the Emerald City became an unpoliced criminal paradise since with his new brains the Scarecrow realized that the Emerald Guard needed something to do now that the Witch was dead, and why not turn them into a mercenary army and make a little money off it; the GoodWitches put all of the Munchkins into indentured servitude in the poppy fields to make heroin; the Tin Woodsman chopped down the talking trees to burn them for charcoal so that he could sell it to buy food for the law-abiding but now homeless noncriminal refugees from the City; the lion went on a fearless heroin-driven rampage and had to be put down; and the flying monkeys ruled the air, throwing poop bombs at everyone with impunity.

Mission accomplished.


  1. [Ok, it looks like I have it working now. It took changing computers and browsers, but I'm sure you'll think it's worth it. ;-)
    So here's what you were missing out on...]

    Wow! Where to begin?
    I don't know that I was actually trying to compare myself with Honest Abe, but I do appreciate you going along any delusions I may have in this area.
    I'm not sure which POTUS I would associate myself with. Surely there must be some "test" out here on the Intarwebs that can tell me which prez I would be. After all, if I can find out which day of the week I am or what my Bond girl name would be, how hard can it be?

    Outside of the ruby/silver slippers, I don't know how much of this can fairly be laid (lain?) at Dorothy's feet. She's pretty much a victim of circumstance. To mangle The Bard™, "...some have ruby slippers thrust upon them."
    I don't understand why you object to her upsetting the balance of power and the status quo when the status quo was the oppression of the masses. Was there not great rejoicing when the yoke of tyranny was lifted? Surely you sang along with "Ding dong the witch is dead", no? The Ozians are not "all dancing with exuberance" because the author is "a white male Westerner" but because, as you point out, "they are thrilled to be liberated from tyranny and intellectual and moral stagnation." Who wouldn't be?

    You asked, "How long would the two good witches actually remain good with all that BadWitch real estate opening up?" The answer to that of course is, indefinitely. They are by definition "good" and are incapable of evil.

    And I just have to reject out of hand your bleak postulations about the outlook for Oz in the Post-Dorothy era.

  2. The point is that Oz was doing fine on its own before the advent of the Killer from Kansas. Did it have bad witches oppressing its people? Yes. But those people would have either a) learned to solve their own problems or b) continued to dwell in oppression because they weren't strong enough to fight it. I know this sounds fascist. But I don't mean it that way--I mean that I believe in the power of the Munchkins to take only so much bad witchery. I believe that they would have come to the realization that they had to fight for their own freedom, and the sufferings they went through in the natural course of events (oppression, resentment of that oppression, underground printing presses, resistance, open revolution) would have made them strong enough to rebuild their own infrastructure afterwards instead of descending into political chaos as soon as their "liberator" took off. Giving them a Liberator is just as fascist because it implies that as a people they weren't strong enough to take care of themselves.

    I suppose you could argue that they'll learn just as much by having freedom forced upon'em, and you might be right. I'm just saying that having the Great Ruby Hope come in and do the liberating for them is a typical empiricist pov, and empiricism, frankly, should be discouraged, as it leads (viz a viz Rome) to nothing but social decadence, decay, and and downfall.

    So there. Thbpbpbpppp.