Friday, December 28, 2012

What's With Dorothy?

The Wizard of Oz (1939) was on TV over the holidays - along with other sentimental favourites:   It's a Wonderful Life (1946), Miracle on 34th Street (1947), and White Christmas (1954).  The latter three display a world in which hardship can be overcome with hope, kindness, generosity, love, and some singing and dancing.  But what's with Dorothy?

Salman Rushdie, in his book The Wizard of Oz, published by the British Film Institute, says this:

The Wizard of Oz is a film whose driving force is the inadequacy of adults even of good adults, and how the weakness of grown-ups forces children to take control of their own destinies, and so, ironically, grow up themselves.

Sadly, "growing up" seems to mean accepting a bleak, dull life and making the most of it.  These thoughts and contemplations of the double life led me to write this poem:


“If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again,
I won’t look any further than my own backyard,
because if it isn’t there,
I never really lost it to begin with.”

You say there’s no place like home,
so three taps of the ruby slippers 
and you’re bumped back to 
the black & white world.

Oz is a place you visit
not dwell.

Home is bleak and oppressive:
gates slam, doors slam,
you’re shut in & shut out.

In Oz
you are braver, kinder & smarter.

At home
the adults betray you,
give away your dog, and
lock you out of the storm cellar.

In Oz
you risk all
to kill the witch
who set your friend on fire
In Oz, you are on fire!
You live through your fingertips.
You risk your life for love.

At home, no witches try to kill you 
and you are loved --
still it’s a black & white kind of love
and even if the law is bad, you must obey it.

At home, you only dream:  you say
– I’d bite you myself, you old witch! --

In Oz, you bite.

In Oz you seek only to go home...


so you choose your own backyard over the world’s,
the bosses over the buddies,
the enemy you know over the one you do not

but at night your heart
still roams
beyond your backyard
beyond the black and white landscape
to flying monkeys, to ruby slippers, to Oz.

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