Long before the world of Wicked, I fell in love with The Wonderful Wizard of Oz—first the movie and then later, the book. I loved the world of Oz, but for the most part, I found Dorothy annoying. She was a wimp. A coward.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is considered the first American faerie tale, which shows in some of the Americana influences to the setting, characters, etc., so in a way, it makes sense that the female character is fairly weak compared to modern characters. As it is, Dorothy isn’t as ‘meek’ as she’s ‘supposed to be’, which is why she gets into so much trouble! And that sounded very much like me as a kid, so I identified with Dorothy quite well.
It’s not as obvious in the first book, but L. Frank Baum was a great supporter of the Women’s Suffrage movement. His female characters in other books are much stronger than Dorothy in book 1. That theme of self-confidence was an important one for me as a kid. I didn’t have much, so reading about heroes was pretty crucial in my formative years.
Part of my love of the work comes from my fond memories of my Great Aunt Dot (Dorothy) and my grandmother, both of which were fans of the works. I remember sitting in my grandmother’s living room and watching the movie over and over again on repeat.
It wasn’t until years later that the movie’s big reveal actually meant something. Neither my grandmother nor my father had color TV. When Dorothy walks into Oz and everything goes Technicolor, I didn’t see the effect until I was almost ten. When we finally got a color TV, it was like my brain both froze and spun out of control all at once. Color! Real life on the screen!
If I still taught, my students would call me old, because let’s face it—to a kid, anything older than 18 is old. So when I talk about color TV, I’m not a baby boomer or anything, but we were poor. Poor enough that we didn’t have even a black & white TV until I was nearly 8. I can still remember when we got a VCR! That was a treat!
Starting next week, my Fridays are going to shift to looking at the future for a while, so I thought it was fitting to end with this work. Self-confidence is what drives me these days. It’s what tells me I am a writer and reinforces the idea that I can be successful. (Though my confidence is also what got me in trouble as a teacher. Too much defending the rights of others. That can make a lot of enemies in the south. I never had a male administrator who actually enjoyed having me as a coworker.)
When I look back at all the advances technology has made and how that has shifted the plots and themes of current Sci-Fi/Fantasy, I’m excited for the future. We’re so close to so many great advances. I can almost taste them. Hey, maybe in the future we’ll have taste TV! (Though I think that idea failed alone with Smell-o-vision!)
Want to read other Flashback Fridays? Click here to see the list in this series.