lions, tigers, bears? no thanks, but I will take those shoes

I’m not what you’d call a “flashy” dresser.  But since childhood, I’ve lusted after Dorothy’s ruby slippers (actually, since they have a heel, I’d consider them pumps). I saw them – the actual shoes, or at least a pair worn in the film – in a Smithsonian exhibit at the George R. Brown Convention Center (according to the internets, this was ’96/’97). The shoes looked surprisingly small in their big lucite box, in direct contrast to the panic-inducing jaw bones on the wall that belonged to a huge shark. Or maybe it was a whale. (Even out of commission and hanging by cables, the jaw was scary – it was too easy to picture the rest of the body materializing and the whole thing coming out of the wall to bite you.) (I’ve always had this thing about drinking too much coffee.)

The Wizard of Oz came on once a year during my childhood. This was back in the dark ages before it was easy to buy a copy or just download it online. We were all offline back then…and using a dial to enter phone numbers… It was a big deal when the film aired, as it was when the various Peanuts holiday-themed specials, the Burl Ives Christmas stuff and the once a year broadcast of Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory came on. If you missed one of those, you had to wait an entire year for the chance to see it again. I still try to catch the Peanuts specials each year, though Great Pumpkin is my least favorite.

I’m forty, so that means I’ve seen The Wizard of Oz at least, I don’t know, 30 times? It’s on more often than once per year now, so maybe that number is even higher. (Side note: I once watched Dark Side of the Rainbow at Alamo Drafthouse – you start Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon on the third roar of the lion in the opening credits of The Wizard of Oz, and there are supposed to be these amazing coincidences between album and movie. You could probably combine any album with any movie and have the same thing happen, but it was cool just the same.)

The The Wizard of Oz was on Friday night. After, as I lay in bed and couldn’t sleep, I kept thinking about the movie. And those shoes. Tried to imagine how I could wear sparkling ruby shoes and not look like a jackass. I didn’t come up with the solution, but I’m not giving up quite yet. Then I thought about the field of poppies, where Toto, Dorothy and the Cowardly Lion all fall asleep. And how the Tinman and Scarecrow don’t fall asleep. And I wondered why that was. Then I foggily recalled a history course in which the professor discussed the “true” meaning of The Wizard of Oz. You mean, it’s not just about a chick who travels via tornado to a magical world with midgets and flying monkeys? Huh.

You know, sometimes a banana is just a banana.

But I did wonder about that poppy field. So I looked around online. Here’s a chunk of information devoted to potential interpretations of the entire story. Though the poppy field is mentioned in virtually every discussion about the film/book, few sites address why the Scarecrow and Tinman don’t succumb. I guess it’s the obvious answer, then. Because they aren’t “living” creatures but instead creations of man. I don’t like that interpretation because, to the audience, to me, they’re as real as everyone else in the story. They’re as real as the flying monkeys are.

Last year was the film’s 70th anniversary, and in celebration some shoe designers presented updates of the ruby shoes. Evidently most of them think that, instead of being a simple farm girl, Dorothy is actually a hooker. I can’t imagine walking five steps in most of those shoes, much less following the yellow brick road in them.

I wrote about The Wizard of Oz last summer and said this:

If The Wizard of Oz were made today, instead of sweet little Judy Garland in the lead it would be someone like Miley Cyrus, and she’d be wearing short shorts and cowboy boots while nipping out a tube top (but would, of course, have a “heart of gold”). The Scarecrow would be JayZ, the Tinman would be Lady Gaga and the Cowardly Lion would be The Rock. I would not see this movie.

I stand by that statement.