I'm very grateful to Kate W. at Enchanted Conversation for linking to Why ‘Oz the Great and Powerful’ Is A Major Step Back For Witches and Women by Elisabeth Rappe last week. Just another example of why I prefer many TV shows over major Hollywood productions these days--overall, women have a stronger part in them! Give me Bones or Veronica Mars any day.
(And YAY! on the Veronica Mars movie. John the Hubby sat and watched it hit the 2 million mark live. Crowdfunding controversies are for discussing elsewhere--and overall I'm for crowdfunding if you must know--I thrilled since I want to see that movie very much! And if you have never seen Veronica, it's wonderful. Even Joss Whedon was/is a fan. And the DVDs are super cheap on Amazon right now thanks to the hype this week. Just be warned that you'll lose sleep for wanting to watch the next episode. And then you'll want a dog just so you can name it Backup.)
It's no secret that I'm not a huge Oz fan, primarily thanks to seeing the movies at the wrong ages, I think. Return to Oz was almost traumatic to me and accepted as being more faithful which kept me from picking up the books long ago. I also didn't learn about the extensive series until I was older, so I missed most of those books anyway.
But I have long admired Frank L. Baum and his oeuvre and accomplishments. And then there's the whole it's not really a "fairy tale" gambit that I deal with almost daily and need to prepare for even more as NINE Oz inspired films are currently in the works.
And, yes, I did enjoy Wicked: The Musical--probably because I expected to hate it--and hope for the movie version of that one. So I allow myself to be completely unpredictable when it comes to Oz.
From the article, to entice you to read it all:
Why is this sad and troubling? Well, as you go through the Oz series, one fact can’t help but jump out at you: The feisty, heroic characters of Oz are all young women. Dorothy returns, again and again, to have adventures in Oz. “Tik-Tok of Oz” features a Dorothy surrogate in Betsy Bobbin (no Toto for Betsy! Her animal companion is a mule named Hank.) Glinda often reappears to do battle. General Jinjur leads an all-female coup against the Scarecrow, and despite its failure, Baum lovingly stops in to see how she’s faring in the common Munchkin life.
But most intriguing and revolutionary of them all is Princess Ozma, who actually makes her first appearance in “The Marvelous Land of Oz” as a young boy named Tip. Tip is the “hero” of the book until it’s revealed an evil witch named Mombi did a magical gender reassignment, and Tip becomes Ozma, restored not only to her rightful throne, but to her own feminine self. It’s a strange and fascinating twist for both Tip and the audience alike, and one with very modern implications.
There are male characters in Oz, of course, but they’re rarely also lead characters. Occasionally one breaks out as a hero, like Ojo the Munchkin boy in “The Patchwork Girl of Oz” or Cap’n Bill and Trot, but they’re one-offs, never to return. The recurring male characters are always faithful and familiar sidekicks like the Wizard, Tin-Man, Tik-Tok, and Jack Pumpkinhead. Alternately, they’re enemies, like the Nome King.
The reason for this is simple: Baum was a feminist. He was an avid supporter of women’s suffrage, and was happily married to the outspoken, intelligent, and energetic Maud Gage Baum, who had gone to Cornell, and sacrificed dreams of degrees to marry him. Their marriage was an unusual one for the time, as Frank happily let her wear the pants, assert her authority, and rule the house.