Summary: Today Locke Peterseim reviews the latest revisit to Oz, as Hollywood continues not so much reinvent stories for each generation as strip-mine our cultural reserves. Modern marketing tools make quality unnecessary. “The House of Mouse learned long ago that it’s far too risky to try and give the people what they want … it’s much better off telling the people what they want and then selling it to them.” Watch it to see in microcosm what our corporate machinery does to America.
By Locke Peterseim.
From the film blog of Open Letters Monthly.
26 March 2013. Reposted with his generous permission.
Disney’s Oz the Great and Powerful is neither an unwatchable, awful film, nor is it anything that anyone not dragged to the theater by coat-tugging children has any need to see.
I’m not a hard-core fan of the original Victor Fleming/Judy Garland film (though I certainly don’t dislike or disparage it), and I’ve never read any of L. Frank Baum’s original Oz books. I’d guess devotees of the former will find this Oz prequel a mildly entertaining, harmless diversion, while those dedicated to Baum’s books will come away disgusted by the new film’s obvious efforts to spin literary delights into eye-popping lucre.
I’ve also had friends ask me if Oz is worth seeing from an aesthetic angle. They want to know if directer Sam Raimi — one-time genre daredevil turned blockbuster manager by the first Spider-Man franchise — has somehow managed to turn a movie created solely in the Disney Franchise Labs into something weird and wonderful, perhaps a phantasmagorical delight in the vein of Terry Gilliam. But of course he hasn’t.
Oz the Great and Powerful is Disney and producer Joe Roth’s blatant, “not even worth denying” attempt to replicate the billion-dollar worldwide box-office haul they scored with Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland three springs ago, and just as Alice absorbed, assimilated, and co-opted whatever stylistic juice Burton still has left while amplifying the director’s laziest, sloppiest tendencies, so Oz uses Raimi.
Summary: Please share your experience with the FM website. What post(s) have you found most interesting, useful, or memorable. Also, here are the most popular posts — this list tells us something about America.
Here are the all-time biggest hits on the FM website since we started in November 2007 (success is a relative thing, these have fewer hits than posts about Katy Perry’s lunch). Most of these are 2 – 4 years old. Many of these remain news even today, more evidence of our current failure to learn.
I don’t see on this list the most insightful or prophetic posts. Not a surprise. Popular posts tend to look at our history, explain today’s news, and look five minutes into the future. Those that explain the big trends and what’s coming down the pike are usually too strange for mass appeal. Too different, too disturbing. We pretend that we live in Kansas. We do not welcome the news that we have landed in Oz.
It’s a squirrel!
“Look, a flying monkey!”
“No, that’s just a squirrel.”
|Iran will have the bomb in 5 years (again), January 2010
|Obama makes his first major policy error, February 2009
|“Some people just want to see the world burn”, January 2009
|A major leak of government secrets – read all about it!, February 2009
|More about pirates: why we no longer “hang them high”, January 2009…
|Will China become a superpower?, September 2011…
Summary: More humor on the FM website, a funny circulating to American chuckles around the web. It says something about us. Something sad.
The Wizard of Oz
appeared on screen in 1939.
Today, if Dorothy were to meet men
with no brains, no hearts, and no balls,
she wouldn’t be in Oz.
She would be in Congress!
This is the traditional mocking of our elected officials. Easy laughs are fun. Working to elect better people is difficult. In a real Republic the former preceeds the latter.
Why is this this not funny (good political humor requires a truthful foundation)? First, Our representatives in Congress are near the top of the American food chain, very successful in worldly terms, overcoming often fierce competition for their offices. Few are stupid in any realistic sense of the term.
Second, western political theory — and much of modern thinking about leadership — says that leaders should be cold in the sense of thinking with their brains, not their hearts or balls. The opposite kind of people are bleeding hearts, not a compliment in most circles.