Friday, January 11, 2013

I Am OZ, the Great and Powerful

There are some movies which are called "classic" and really deserve that title; one of them is the 1939 film, "The Wizard of Oz."  Starring Judy Garland in her timeless role as Dorothy Gale, the flick is an absolute feast for the eyes and the imagination of people of every age.

There is amazing stuff from start to finish.  Initially the film is in black and white, and it shows the quintessentially American life of Dorothy and her Auntie Em and a couple of hangers-on living on an idyllic farm in Kansas.  Then wealthy, elitist Bitch-From-Hell Ann Romney, I mean Elvira Gulch, shows up with an order from the sheriff to confiscate vicious hell-hound Toto.  Dorothy finds herself having the Worst Day Ever, and just when she thinks things can't get any worse, a tornado blows in and really screws everything up.  This is the part that used to completely terrify me as a child; I remember being unable to breathe, paralyzed in fear, watching the thrashing, writhing tornado funnel bearing down on the Kansas farm like some huge dinosaur marching across the flat Kansas plains under a black sky.

Dorothy is not amused when she finds herself locked out of the storm cellar and runs inside the house for shelter.  She gets knocked on her butt by a flying window frame and hallucinates this extremely intricate dream about the whole farmhouse getting sucked up into the tornado vortex and transported to a place called Oz.  Still in black-and-white, there is a neat cinematic trick after she crash-lands La Maison Gale on top of an innocent pedestrian who turns out to the Wicked Witch of the East: when Dorothy opens the door onto Oz the screen explodes into mind-blowing Technicolor, an effect which is considerably muted when you only have a black-and-white television.

After being flash-mobbed by weirdly-dressed midgets called the Munchkins and getting her marching orders - not to mention a fabulous pair of red-sequined Espadrilles - from Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, Dorothy starts out for the fabled Emerald City to find the all-powerful Wizard of Oz, who reportedly has an awesome GPS system and can get her back to her bland, boring, black-and-white life as a hopeless farm slave in Kansas.  She picks up some friends along the way, all with their own issues, including another wicked witch with anger-management problems and a whole squadron of flying monkeys.  If you think pigeons are messy, you should try to clean up after a bunch of airborne chimpanzees.

Eventually they do find themselves in the stunning art-deco audience hall of the Wizard of Oz, who proceeds to scare the bejeezus out of them with a lot of hollering and bellowing, and special-effects like blasts of flame and clouds of acrid smoke.  Dorothy and her crew completely buy into the all-powerful-wizard scam, but not Toto, who pulls a back curtain open to show a dumpy old man working all the bells and whistles that make the Wizard so gawd-awful scary and Wizard-y.  It turns out the Wizard relies a lot on reputation and overblown bluster and is not nearly as powerful as he would like you to believe.

What's the point of all this, you probably asked yourself three paragraphs ago?  Anyone who reads Careless Whispers knows that "making a valid point" in any blog post is entirely optional and when it does happen, should be considered unexpected good fortune, like finding a $20 bill on the street.  But oddly enough this post does have a point, which is we are seeing a variation of this Wizard story playing out in the raging gun control debate following the tragic shootings in Newtown, Connecticut.

Playing the role of Dorothy we have the American public, thoroughly traumatized by gun violence, and seeking a way back to a world where 20 grade-school kids are not mowed down by a psycho with an assault weapon.  Obama is the Good Witch of the North, pointing the way to a sensible, middle-road solution like banning those weapons and high-capacity ammo clips.  Congress is there too, playing the role of the Munchkins, a role they play so very well - a bunch of annoying, helium-voiced douchebags that you just want to slap the crap out of.

The choice role of Wizard is played by the National Rifle Association, which for many years has relied on its reputation as the most powerful lobbying machine ever, and who uses gross intimidation, threats and blatant coercion to maintain its iron-clad stranglehold on members of Congress.  The NRA would have us believe they are all-powerful and anyone who dares to speak up to them and challenge their authority will surely get slapped down and ground into dust like some disgusting bothersome insect.  You mess with the Great and Powerful at your own risk, and punishment will be sure and swift: you will find yourself thrown out of office faster than you can say, "There's no place like home."

All the cross-dressing midgets in Congress tremble and cower in fear of the Wizard/NRA and consider it a privilege to grovel in the Wizard's presence and do whatever they're told.  But the Wizard just might have finally met his match in the shock, anger and disgust that have swept the nation as it awakens to the horrific, awful things that gun violence causes in the life of this country.  People are beginning to feel that this problem is getting progressively worse, and that the answer is not what the Wizard wants - which is more guns everywhere in the United States, especially in the schools themselves.  The answer, which will by no means eliminate all gun violence, seems to be to take these automated weapons of mass killing and huge ammo clips and make them much more difficult to fall into the hands of the mentally deranged, while leaving responsible gun owners access to the firearms which make sense for level-headed people to own.

Bottom line is, what we have been doing up to this point when it comes to guns in this, the most heavily-armed nation in the world, is not working.  The answer, in spite of the horrendous screaming and yelling of the Wizard, is not more guns for everyone.  The public seems to be figuring out that the Wizard is all bluster and bombast, and there has never been a better opportunity to pull the curtain away from the Wizard, and see that his power is just an overblown illusion.

1 comment:

  1. LOL. Very interesting way to look at it.

    When I was a girl this movie was incredible to me. (still is)