Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Follow the Yellow Brick Road.

     
....Here's what they don't teach you in school..
Wizard of OZ (Ounce) is a Monetary Allegory...


    In the story, Dorothy is swept away from Kansas in a tornado and arrives in a mysterious land inhabited by `little people.' Her landing kills the Wicked Witch of the East (bankers and capitalists) who kept the munchkin people in bondage.
      
 In the movie, Dorothy begins her journey through the Land of Oz wearing ruby slippers, but in the original story Dorothy's magical slippers are silver [a reference to the bimetallic system advocated by W.J. Bryan]. Along the way on the yellow brick (gold) road, she meets a Tin Woodsman who is `rusted solid' (a reference to the industrial factories shut down during the depression of 1893). The Tin Woodsman's real problem, however, is that he doesn't have a heart (the result of dehumanizing work in the factory that turned men into machines).
      
 Farther down the road Dorothy meets the Scarecrow, who is without a brain (the farmer, Baum suggests, doesn't have enough brains to recognize what his political interests are). [Shades of Marx's critique of peasants!] Next Dorothy meets the Cowardly Lion, an animal in need of courage (Bryan, with a load roar but little else). Together they go off to Emerald City (Washington) in search of what the wonderful Wizard of Oz (the President) might give them.

When they finally get to Emerald City and meet the Wizard, he, like all good politicians, appears to be whatever people wish to see in him. He also plays on their fears.... But soon the Wizard is revealed to be a fraud--only a little old man `with a wrinkled face' who admits that he's been `making believe.' `I am just a common man,' he says. But he is a common man who can rule only by deceiving the people into thinking that he is more than he really is.

You're a humbug,' shouts the Scarecrow, and this is the core of Baum's message. Those forces that keep the farmer and worker down are manipulated by frauds who rule by deception and trickery; the President is powerful only as long as he is able to manipulate images and fool the people. [Politics doesn't change, does it?]
Finally, to save her friends, Dorothy `melts' the Wicked Witch of the West (just as evil as the East), and the Wizard flies off in a hot-air balloon to a new life. The Scarecrow (farmer) is left in charge of Oz, and the Tin Woodsman is left to rule the East. This populist dream of the farmer and worker gaining political power was never to come true, and Baum seems to recognize this by sending the Cowardly Lion back into the forest, a recognition of Bryan's retreat from national politics.

Dorothy is able to return to her home with the aid of her magical silver shoes, but on waking in Kansas, she realizes that they've fallen off, representing the demise of the silver coinage issue in American politics.


The Allegoy:

Dorothy = the American people: plucky, good natured, naive.

Oz = the almighty ounce (oz) of gold. Oz- British symbol for gold.

The yellowbrick road = paved with gold bricks, leads to nowhere.

The Good Witch of the North = New England, a populist stronghold.

The Good Witch of the South = the South, another populist stronghold.

The Wicked Witch of the East = Eastern banking and industrial interests. She is killed by Dorothy's falling house because the Populists expected that the eastern industrial workers would vote Populist, but this never really happened..

The Wicked Witch of the West = the West was where the Populists were strongest. The only reason why the West gets a wicked witch is a) you need two bad guys to balance the two good guys, and especially, b) William McKinley was from Ohio, then thought of as a western state. (I guess.) The wicked witch is sometimes identified directly with President McKinley.

The Scarecrow = western farmers. They were Populists.

The Tin Woodsman = eastern workers. Populist mythology always looked to this group for support, but never actually found it in reality. Baum realized this (most Populists didn't) and shows the Tinman as a victim of mechanization. He's so dehumanized he doesn't have a heart.

The Cowardly Lion = William Jennings Bryan.

The Emerald City = Washington D.C. The color is suggestive of paper greenbacks.

The Wizard =  The President



Love, Sweeta. XOXO

1 comment:

  1. One of my all time favorite movies....love the allegorical reference... Its where I got "Rusted:Blue" from The Tin Man depressed and Rusted... :) = keep writing! good stuff!

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