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are you a good witch or a bad witch?

bluemonkey.gifAm I the only one who did not enjoy The Wizard of Oz as a child? The movie freaked me out as a kid and freaks me out still.

There's the obvious reasons first: the flying monkeys, which were every nightmare I ever had given wings; the Wicked Witches, both of whom remind me of too many teachers and babysitters I have known; the Munchkins, who looked like they would just as soon push you into an oven than be helpful; and that horrible, nasty lady on the bicycle who stole Dorothy's dog and turned into a witch right in front of my eyes.

Those are all the usual suspects. Anyone who tells you they don't like this movie will name the above as reasons. But there were other, less obviously sinister thing that creeped me out. First of all, that damn lion. I never liked walking, talking animals, especially ones who stand on their hind legs and don't wear clothes. Looking at him made me nervous in the same way that accidently seeing your cousin taking a leak on the side of the house when you're nine years old does.

What kind of parent would force their child to watch a movie that has man-eating trees, evil blue monkeys, ugly green witches, killing machine soldiers and sinister little munchkins? Oh sure, you thought those munchkins were nice, but I knew better. I just knew that, if given the chance, they would kidnap all the children of the world and make slaves out of them. And didn't it bother anyone that Dorothy was hailed as a hero for murdering the witch? Just because someone is bad does not give you the right to go killing them all willy nilly!

I was sure that my mother, who plunked us in front of the tv every spring (it used to be shown right around Easter) and made us watch the film as if it were some wonderful family experience, was trying to make us get some morality lesson out of the movie. Like, appreciate your mother, because poor Dorothy doesn't have one. Or, don't ever get a dog because some rotten neighbor will just come and take it away and then you'll have to go battle some witches to get him back. Or, don't go in the woods because there are monkeys with wings there.

Then one night, while lying in the dark trying to figure out how I would kill a human-like naked lion if one pounced on me when I least expected it, I got it. There's no place like home! Yes, that was the moral of the story! That's why my mother made us watch it. So when she was chasing us around the house and hitting us with shoes or throwing spatulas at us, or when we were forced to eat brussel sprouts, or when we were punished for leaving crayons in the back seat of her convertible when it was really hot out, we would not feel angry or sad. We would just think hey, I could be Dorothy and have to go into the scary woods and talk to a big piece of tin and wear that horrible gingham dress while skipping along through a crowd of midgets. Tis much better to be here, in my room, grounded for life.

And there was a time, when I had taken a road trip with my sister and her car broke down and we were in some crap part of Baltimore, stuffed into the front of a tow truck with a driver we were sure was going to kill us or worse, when I tried tapping my heels together and whispering, there's no place like home. But in that state of fear I got confused and instead said Candyman two times before my sister elbowed me in the ribs and I corrected myself by saying Beetlejuice, but Michael Keaton never showed up and it was ok, because the tow truck driver didn't want to kill us at all, he was actually very helpful and kind and I thought that maybe, in the great Emerald City of life, he was my Glenda the Good Witch.

Comments

My son(now age 15) developed a semi-abnormal fascination w/ the W of O video around age 2. He would watch it over and over. In toddler-speak he called it "Widder Sa Bop", and then later "Wizzer Da Bob". He liked the Tornado scene and would come running out to the kitchen and announce breathlessly "MaMa! Widder Sa Bop Whinny!" (windy)

I personally always hated those damn flying monkeys too. And my Dad told me that when he was age 6, the Wicked Witch scared the bejeebers out of him in that dark theater in 1939.

And of course Glenda is so helpful. Along comes this third party that radically alters the power play of the landscape, knocking out all the other major players in the land, leaving her as the only major force standing. As soon as the Wizard was disposed of, in she swoops to get this little innocent agent of destruction the hell outta the picture. Both her and the wizard were like that - get someone else to take care of their problems for them. The wizard cons them into a suicide mission, and Glenda steps in after all the mess is over with to smile for the photo op, with the compliant new regime of the major city of the realm.

Yeah, ok, maybe looked at it with a bit of a cynical eye. The flying monkeys were the best part!

Funny, my wife was always creeped out by "Willy Wonka," with Gene Wilder and the oompa-loompas. Now that I look at it, it could be kinda frightening for a little kid. I guess I just didn't pay too much attention to the goofiness of these shows when I watched them. Ditto Cat in the Hat and the Grinch.

I hated this movie. It always bothered me that Glenda, the "beautiful" one, thought it was okay and readily encouraged Dorothy to steal the "ugly" witch's property. Those slippers were her sister's, which meant they belonged to her as the next of kin. What's the lesson? If you're beautiful you can kill ugly people by dropping houses on them and then steal their shoes? That sucks!

"Am I the only one who did not enjoy The Wizard of Oz as a child?"

I was going to say that as far as I know yes but that seems not to be the case.

Misty,
I hope you are kidding. By that logic if Uday had been carrying a smallpox bottle with him we should have turned it over to his father. The shoes were a powerful weapon and keeping them from the evil witch was vital.

The wicked witches possessed weapons of mass destruction, and had an aggressive army that they used against their own people, including the 'Lemurian Flying Fedayeen'. The Wicked Witch's willingness to use poppy derivatives against her enemies wasn't exactly a 'good sign' either, the UN certainly wouldn't approve. (Unless there were massive kickbacks involved.)
Both wicked witches deserved whatever happened to 'em. To the willing mind it's obvious that Dorothy wasn't stealing the ruby slippers...she was clearly preventing them from falling into terrorwitchist hands. The witches kept their citizens, munchins and flying monkeys enslaved, complete with closed borders, prisons, torture chambers, the works. Those women would no doubt would have loved Saddam's industrial sized shredder. And they could have exchanged tips on palace building with him...vultures of a feather.

Face it, Dorothy came in and enacted a regime change with speed, precision and a very limited number of 'slippers on the ground'. Her clearly established and frequently announced exit strategy soothed the local yokels. She came, she removed the tyrants, she set up a governing council and she left town. It was NOT all about the Oil of Olay. Her motives were pure, her timetable was spot on, and she clearly left Oz safer and happier than she found it.
My hats off to her.

Oh. My. God. You people are nuts! In the best possible sense, of course.

I have always loved WoO...and is it wrong that young Judy Garland still makes me tingle?

You know, I always loved the story of the Wizard of Oz (my mom tells me I'd recite it to everyone I met) but the movie definitely terrified me, for all the reasons listed above. It also instilled a deep-rooted belief in me that God looks like the Wizard when he's that big circular head-like moon thing.

The movies that really terrified me when I was a kid, though, were the Home Alone movies. At my preschool, we were all forced to watch all the Home Alone movies, even though I was literally screaming and crying. Until I was about ten, I was always the first one in the car on family trips... then I realized I'd really rather be left at home.

Because my dad was a professor of drama and I spent a lot of time backstage and in rehersals, nothing in movies freaked me out when I was a kid. I knew what fiction was.

In a sense my education on that started when I was 3 and my dad gave me a cookie monster puppet. That way even the muppets weren't real to me.

I don't think that the constant awareness of the unrealness stopped me from enjoying tv and movies.

Well it didn't stop me until I became snobby about TV and movies in my late teens, but I'm not sure that being more selective is a bad thing overall.

I never quite grasped the supposed stupendousness of the movie. It seemed kinda strange, but not all that scary to me. As I recall, when I watched it as a child I usually ended up falling asleep before the end...

No, you're not the only one who got freaked out by the movie. My son who is 19 never fails to point out to me (last night was the most recent) how frightened he became when I, too, plunked him down in front of the TV and force-watched the show to him, and how when the witch came flying by the house he cried his little eyes out screaming not to have to watch it anymore.

Geez...you'd think I was pulling a Clockwork Orange on him or something.

My brothers and I went through that ritual every year, it began to get tedious along about age 12 or so. Ah, the days of having only three UHF channels to watch...

I liked "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" more, once it came out. The girl who played Veruca Salt was hotter than Judy Garland. Although to to be fair to the "Wizard of Oz", a Munchkin could kick an Oompa Loompa's ass without breaking a sweat.

Chrissy just made me realize how old I am.

Anyway -- I enjoyed the Oz movie when I was a kid, but the total mania some people seem to have for it is inexplicable to me. And sorry, guys, I don't get the Judy Garland thing at all. (Actually, I was a secret Wicked Witch fan.)

oooooOOOh!
Scary Flying Monkeys!!!
We need to hire a flock of those as evil minions.
ahahahahahahahahaha:)

Carl,
Before you start about exit strategies you should remember that the film was based on a book (you remember books don't you?) and the first one was part of a series where she did return again and again.

The really funny thing about this is that my kid is in Drama class this year and has to attend the school productions and report report on them. We are going to one tonight, guess which one?
Right you are, Wizard of OZ.
She says they even are using a real dog for Toto. Sounds pretty advanced for high school.

Even if you didn't like the Wizard of Oz, you should check out "Wicked" by Gregory Maguire, if you haven't already. I think you'd get a kick out of it.

I liked "Wizard of Oz". The one that terrified me was "Return to Oz". I was seven, my aunt took me to it, and I insisted we leave not too long into the movie.
She complained to the theatre -- it was in no way a kids' movie. (I saw it later, at around 12, and enjoyed it. But I understood why I had been so scared, too.)

Oh the humanity!
It's GlInda folks.
Y'all just stabbed me in the heart!

and speaking of action figures, have you seen the McFarland Oz figures?

It looks like he agrees with you, Michele.

And the way Dorothy is bound leaves you wondering exactly what the Lollipop Guild has in store for her....

Sondra, I loved the film, and so did my brothers and all of our cousins. It was on around Passover time every year. In fact, my mother often used to bring us over to our relatives who had a color TV (we did not) so we could really appreciate the movie.

I watched bits of it last night. Over the Rainbow, of course. Sigh. Judy Garland. Her death is one of the greatest tragedies to hit American popular culture, IMHO. Screw Elvis. Judy Garland was THE greatest American singer, bar none.

Actually, in all seriousness, I feel a twinge of grief every time I hear a Garland song. She had a sad, sad end, but she contributed a wonderful legacy of songs and films.

I never much cared for the movie, but that's because I read the books (well, the first couple, anyway) before I saw it. I had the same reaction to Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Mary Poppins, and (decades later) Harry Potter, for the same reason. The stuff in the movies was never as cool as I'd imagined it would be. The only movie adaptation of a children's book, that I loved as much as the book itself, was "Matilda".

Anyway, the Wizard of Oz books are much weirder than the movie was.

If the U.S.A. can pull off a regime change in Iraq with the same speed, skill, and esprit de corps epitomized by Dorothy Gale and the Axis of Oz, we will be in high cotton, my friends.

Personally, I have always loved this film. I have always had a soft spot for Judy Garland, and I think "Over the Rainbow" is one of the greatest songs EVER penned. And it just wouldn't be the same without the flying monkeys!

I was going to say it was bizarre to be frightened by the Wizard of Oz, but then somebody mentioned Willy Wonka, which creeped me out something fierce as a kid (the whole kids-getting-swallowed-by-the-factory thing) and which I've therefore still never seen in its entirety. But this reminds me of Dave Barry's comparison (I paraphrase) of Sesame Street (friendly interracial adults, cuddly creatures that provide educational lessons) with the sci-fi shows he watched as a kid, where evil creatures were constantly scheming to take over the planet and/or destroy all mankind, and his conclusion that the latter was a much more realistic preparation for the real world.

Yes, GLINDA, GLINDA, GLINDA. Why did she speak with such a vibrato anyway? And who exactly was she in the scheme of Dorothy's real world? All the other characters had a representation in Kansas, but where was Glinda - did I miss something?

The "vibrato" way of speaking/reciting is, I think, an old technique that used to be quite popular. People preferred that women have these high, "trilling" voices; but they also preferred male singers to sing as high as possible, and use vibrato as well. (I got this info from an old PBS show on castrati, the castrated male singers of Italy. The very last castrato actually lived long enough for his singing to be recorded on a victrola -- I think, or a cylinder, one of those really old recording instruments. Anyway, the host of the show had to explain why the singer was singing in that warbly way. I am assuming this nineteenth-century fashion lingered well into the twentieth.)

damnit kim, you took what i was going to say. wicked is one of my favorite books of all time. beautifully written and wonderfully political with an interesting bit of satire and a bunch of gender identity issues (not to mention racial identity issues). he also wrote confessions of an ugly stepsister, about cinderella, lost, which is a dickensian tale (don't remember which one it is though), and he just put out a new book, mirror, mirror, about snow white. oh, and the book, wicked, is now a broadway musical (though a teacher at my highschool beat them to it and turned it into a play in the early 90's).

The CIA/FBI Network organized the Taliban

[This comment has been edited down to nothing because I do not appreciate people leaving novel-length copy/paste jobs here. Get your own blog and waste your own bandwidth]

I bow to the master of off topic posting.
We are not worthy.

And no, of course I didn't waste a single second reading that silly agit-prop.

i love the wizard of oz its the best film ever