Sunday, October 4, 2009

Why The Original "The Wizard of Oz" Would Never Be Released Today

The family all sat down last night to watch the newly re-mastered version of the 1939 classic MGM movie "The Wizard of Oz." When I was a kid, the film came on television once a year around Christmas time and was always a big deal. This was in the days before YouTube, satellite, cable, Blu-Ray, DVD or even VCR and if you missed it that once a year, you had to wait until the next time they showed it. Out of luck, kid; see you next year.

Anyway we all thoroughly enjoyed it as we always do. The picture and sound quality were, of course, much improved, but we mostly just delighted in the usual things that make it worth watching again and again - the wonderful music, the slightly over-the-top performances, the comic timing, and the heart-touching overall message: there's no place like home.

It's common to hear (mostly older) people say "They sure don't make movies like they used to," and that's inarguably true. But why is that? Has society or our tastes --even in so-called "family films" --become more 'sophisticated' (i.e. 'cynical')? Have our tastes become more 'adult' (i.e. crude and vulgar, with the mocking of innocence and idealism)? Do we prefer more 'realism' in our media (i.e. explicit sex and gratuitous violence)?

Perhaps so; but must it be so for us as individuals? Just because the prevailing culture has evolved (or devolved) in this way, do we just lower ourselves and conform our characters to it by lowering them as well? Or, maybe we are living uneasily within our culture, but we still just throw up our hands in defeat, roll over, and go with the flow. Any dead fish can float downstream, but it takes a live fish to swim against the current.

Anyway, here are the top ten reasons why the original 'The Wizard of Oz" would not be produced and released in theaters today:

1. No profanity or cruel insults between characters.

2. No nudity (not even skin tight clothes or exposed cleavage!).

3. No sexual situations, even implied.

4. No bathroom humor.

5. No political correctness (there were 'people of color' but they were green).

6. The characters evidently embraced tradtional family values; at any rate they did not mock them.

7. No gratuitous violence.

8. Adult Males were not portrayed as hopeless idiots in contrast to women and children who always know better.

9. Religion was not bashed. In fact Auntie Em proclaimed herself a 'Christian woman' (GASP!)

10. No huge financial killing was evidently envisioned in the form of merchandising and endless sequels and spin-offs.
Despite all these shortcomings, this film has been a beloved classic for 70 years. Will people 70 years from now be able to say the same thing about the last movie you saw in a theater?
(For more thoughts on "The Wizard of Oz," see Deal Hudson's blog, found here.)

1 comment:

  1. You are exactly right about why such a movie could never be made today -- a sad, even tragic, commentary on the state of our culture.

    Deal Hudson