Google+ Bookslingers Blog: Oz: James Franco, Dream Killer

Oz: James Franco, Dream Killer

 So, there's this now:

I have argued at length with Maelie about my deep loathing of the CGI blancmange that was Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland.
That red is the blood of my eye tears. The expression is the face that I made through the entire film.
But what we could both agree on was that it was awesome to have a female heroine starring in a big budget blockbuster movie who has a sword. Even if that movie has Anne Hathaway in it (okay, that part was just me). 

So, imagine my displeasure when I watched the trailer and realized that the technicolour vomitorium that will be Oz is not the fantastic feminine utopia of my childhood but a movie that contains the line:  "Aren't you the great man we've been waiting for?"

This is not the great man that you've been waiting for. Also, stop putting your world-saving hero requests on Craigslist
The Oz books were one of those childhood-defining series that have a special place in my heart. The graceful John R. Neill illustrations, the weird imaginative worlds of L.Frank Baum and above all, the powerful female characters.
Not to say that the Wizard isn't an important part of the series. After being de-curtained by Dorothy, he becomes a kindly uncle figure for Ozma and the rest of the Oz crew. There are many important male characters like the Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion, the Tin Man, Tik Tok, Button Bright, the Shaggy Man, etc.

But the real heroes of the series, the characters who we journey with and have all the narrative power are the ladies. And they are fantastic.

Dangerous socialist, pacifistic fairy radical

There is Ozma. Who was a boy but was really a girl but who spent most of her life as a boy before being transformed into a fairy princess (Oh Baum!). She is the true ruler of Oz, a radical regal communist (she abolishes money and then redistributes resources so that no one has to work or age or die. She still keeps the crown though. Some one's got to wear those poppies), a pacifistic who refuses to go against her ideals even when the most badass of Oz's enemies are at the gates of Emerald City and enjoys going on dangerous rescue missions into the killer desert with her killer tiger and lion friends.

There's also Polychrome and Betsy Bobbin and Belinda (technically a chicken but a chicken who defeats the gnome king) and the Patchwork Girl and Glinda and Mombi and Trot.

And Dorothy. The no nonsense farm girl who sticks up for herself and her friends and isn't afraid to call bullies out. Witch trying to steal your head? Shut that business down and then await rescue from Super Friend. Hungry Tiger threatens to eat you? Give him a lecture on manners. Creepy vegetable people going to destroy you? Pick a new vegetable princess off the princess tree and then stage a coup.
I punched a lion. What did you do today?
These books are not perfect. Looking at them with adult eyes, Baum has eyebrow-raising ideas about suffragettes ("Stop wanting the vote! What you really want is a new frying pan!") and some troubling racism (Growleywogs anyone?).

What is good and lasting about the books is the awesome female friendships and the strong and practical heroines who have their own stories and stand up for themselves and what they value. And what girl doesn't want to rule a fairy kingdom with her BFFs?

I'll reserve judgement on Oz until I see the movie. But I hope that the 2012 movie remains true to the original series' radical 1900 idea of telling stories with strong lady heroes.