I was so excited when I first saw the previews for Oz The Great and Powerful -- not only do I (of course!) love the Judy Garland film, but I devoured many of the original books as a child, and I thrilled at the thought of L. Frank Baum’s magical world coming to life again on the big screen. And while the movie was beautifully lush, with plenty of eye candy for all, I really wish I hadn’t taken my almost 10-year-old daughter to see such a load of sexist crapola.
First, let’s start with the costumes. Trust me: I’m no prude. I enjoy looking at a gorgeous woman dressed in beautiful clothes, and if it’s a James Bond movie, then bring on the slinky sexiness -- I’ll eat it up. (SPOILER ALERT!)
And while the makeup and costumes in Oz for the most part were incredible, the sheer amount of heaving cleavage from all three female characters was seriously ridiculous, and total overkill for a movie meant for a family audience. Also, I’m pretty sure one of the main motivations for shooting the movie in 3D was to capture Mila Kunis' butt in tight leather pants. No joke: an entire sequence seemed totally planned around getting a rear-view of Kunis as she climbs up into a cave (or something).
But that was nothing compared to truly backward, terrible lessons about men, women and relationships. (REPEAT: SPOILER ALERT!) ...
"Oz," the Wizard, as portrayed by James Franco, is a womanizing charlatan, which I agree makes sense for the smoke-and-mirrors character we met in the classic film. The problem for me isn't so much his icky behavior (and when I say icky I mean SO UNAPPEALING ICK!), but the way the bonehead women in the movie react to him.
First, there’s the fact that much of the movie hinges on the notion that Mila Kunis' character, Theodora, goes completely bat-sh*& nuts at her first notion that the "Wizard" -- whom she has known for all of about 14 hours -- has scorned her. In her CRAZY LADY heartbreak, she purposely eats a poison apple that her evil sister (a glossy-lipsticked Rachel Weisz) offers her and transforms instantly into the Most Evil Villainess Ever. Yes, kids, the Wicked Witch of the West got that way because of a boy. It’s a completely ludicrous, lazy plot device hinged on the tired old notion that women are basically crazy and wildly over-reactive. Theodora turns horrible-looking and GREEN as a result of allowing her heartbreak to turn her to the dark side.
LESSON: Not only are ugly people easier to hate, but women are fragile, easy fooled, and will go crazeballs when even slightly burned in love.
Speaking of fragile, next we have Michelle Williams' characters (as in the 1939 movie, actors appeared both in Kansas and in the technicolor land of Oz). We see Williams first as the sweet farm girl in love with Franco's scuzzy, ever on-the-move carnival "magician," and then as Glinda, the ever pure and lovely good girl witch of the North. The Wiz first ditches blondie in Kansas to pursue his "dreams," then gets chased out of town by someone else's angry boyfriend. Of course, he goes further than out of town ... he lands in Oz, where runs around acting like a total cad. But in the end, he kind of pulls it together, manages to defeat two super powerful witches (yeah right), and is rewarded by a passionate smooch with Glinda, who has apparently seen through his jerky facade to his heart of gold the entire time.
LESSON: Just wait around long enough, and the worthless, manipulating creep who’s been treating you like total garbage MAY come around in the end! BARF.
Finally, we have the downfall of the meanie big sister, Evanora. Rachel Weisz is great in the role -- she’s deliciously bad -- but in the end of course this Wicked Witch is defeated by good and her TRUE appearance is revealed: a WRINKLY UGLY HAG OH NO! Oh yes! That will show those bad girls! They’ll be deformed and wrinkly (A FATE WORSE THAN DEATH), while sweet, pretty Glinda will float around in pretty bubbles, her flawed man at her side.
LESSON: Wrinkles and not being pretty anymore = the ultimate punishment.
I don’t look to the entertainment industry to teach my kid about life (hahahaha), but when a movie is meant for an audience that includes children, it’s a darn shame for it to be so filled with truly retrograde sexism, laughably ridiculous "relationships," and damaging lessons about the value of beauty. I’ll be trying to causally bring some of the scenes up with my daughter so I can shed some light on what she absorbed for those couple of hours. For the rest of you moms with daughters -- or sons for that matter! -- I’d stay home.
Did you see Oz the Great and Powerful? Did you have the same response or do you think I’m overreacting?
Image via Disney.go.com/thewizard
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