Saturday, May 30, 2009

Our Daily Bread Goes To Oz...

My dad showed me a devotional that appeared earlier this week on Our Daily Bread. I'll go ahead and link to it, but I'll also quote...

Calling Evil Good
The Wizard of Oz has remained popular for years. People of all ages have learned moral lessons from Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion as they traveled down the yellow brick road. Of course, in the plot line the great enemy to be overcome is the Wicked Witch of the West. Evil is clearly depicted and overcome by good.

A new Broadway musical, however, turns the moral sense of the original story on its head. In this rewriting of the story, the wicked witch is presented as a sympathetic character. Born with green skin, she feels like an outsider. Major characters, plot lines, roles, and other details are altered so that the wicked witch is really just a misunderstood person. The audience might come away with the idea that evil is good and good is evil.

It goes on, but sadly, it doesn't credit Baum at all (the mentioning of the Wicked Witch as the great enemy is a tip-off they're going after the MGM rendition), nor does it say that the musical in question (which isn't exactly so new anymore) is Wicked, nor that it is based on a book.

I rather appreciate that they looked kindly on Oz, praising it for being clear-cut in it's portrayals of good and evil, rather than complaining that "it says witches can be good!" Because, here's the thing: Baum took Dorothy out of the regular world. Here, regular rules, such as those imposed by religions and faiths, don't apply. Regardless of the audience's beliefs, the story is entirely palatable. Baum even says in his book that Oz's magic will not work in Kansas, and even in later books advises the readers against using magic.

So, thank you, ODB, for not being so picky in that respect.


J. L. Bell said...

Is it too much for Our Daily Bread to acknowledge that in Wicked Elphaba really is a misunderstood person—a victim of prejudice because of her green skin, and an opponent of a totalitarian dictator?

Is this devotional's perspective that what was once called "Wicked" must be wicked was once called "Wicked"?

Or does it have room to encourage reconsideration, thought, and treating others with love and compassion, or at least the way that one would like to be treated oneself?

Jared said...

Yes, it would be too much for them to do that.

Miriam said...

You know what? I am a very, VERY religious person, and Oz is one of the most important things in my life! When people used to address the issue of the good witches, I responded with a simple F*** YOU and went on my merry way. That, however, is no way to win friends and certainly no way to change a stubborn person's mind. When people say that to me now, my simple response is this: What is a prophet if not a good witch?
I'd try that one out if I were you. It doesn't usually work enough to change peoples' minds, but it is sure to at least gain you so respect and keep the simpleton in question from harassing you!