Article Title:Don't Surrender, Dorothy!
Author or Credit:Craig Young
Published on:21st December 2005 - 12:00 pm
Story ID:1044
Text:Annoyed at Disney for pandering to the fundamentalist market? Want to boycott Narnia? How about that perennial child fantasy favourite, The Wizard of Oz? Gay men have had a long term love affair with this perennial children's classic, which we perceive as a metaphor for the gay existential condition. Consider this. Dorothy Gale is abruptly ejected from her dreary monochrome Depression era Kansas home into the technicolour splendour of Oz, "somewhere over the rainbow..." She kills off the Wicked Witch of the East, a tyrannical authority figure, and sets off on an independent quest with ruby slippers (which may be metaphors for menstruation and womanhood's adult autonomy). She befriends an effeminate lion (who needs courage...or pride), a 'heartless' tin man and a 'brainless' scarecrow. The Emerald City of Oz is a metaphor for any cosmopolitan urban centre, whether that's San Fransisco, London or Wellington. In the city, our heroes have a makeover, before being sent on another quest at the behest of the Wizard of Oz. Dorothy melts down the Wicked Witch of the West (even if Margaret Hamilton was a lesbian in real life), unmasks the Wizard as a mere mortal, and discovers that she has the power to return home to Kansas herself. What else is fabulous about this classic? Well, there's Judy Garland (1922-1969) herself, a brave, gutsy woman who fought slurs about her talent, unsuccessful relationships and alcohol and drug problems, and won the sympathies of an earlier generation of gay men because of her struggle to retain her celebrity status. One of the screenplay writers, Edgar Allan Woolf, was also gay. Thus, the Wizard of Oz can be read as independence and resistance to arbitrary authority, whereas Narnia is a fundamentalist wish fulfillment fantasy. I suggest we introduce a new generation of children to the magic that lies over the rainbow, if you follow the yellow brick road to freedom. Recommended: Filmography: Wizard of Oz (1939): MGM/Loews Inc. 98 Mins. Screenplay: Edgar Allen Woolf, Joel Langley and Florence Ryerson: d. Victor Fleming: p. Mervyn Le Roy. Stars: Judy Garland (Dorothy Gale): Margaret Hamilton (Wicked Witch of the West): Bibliography: Alexander Doty: Flaming Classics: Queering the Film Canon: London: Routledge: 2000. Richard Dyer: "Judy Garland and Gay Men" in R.Dyer (ed) Heavenly Bodies: Film Stars and Society: Basingstoke: Macmillan/BFI: 1986. John Fricke et al: The Wizard of Oz: 50th Anniversary Pictorial History: London: Hodder and Stoughton: 1989. Salman Rushdie: The Wizard of Oz: London: BFI: 1992. Craig Young - 21st December 2005    
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