When I was a kid I thought The Wizard of Oz was just plain creepy. My
parents would round us up pretty much any time it was on — "Oh look,
Eddie and Tassy, it's The Wizard of Oz." And of course I was really too
young to tell them "Forget it! I'm not watching that freaky crap!"
A realist even then I think. And so I would curl up on the couch with a
blanket and sort of avoid looking at the television and think my own
thoughts about whatever I felt like. But still, I could hear the sound.
It was still there. It wouldn't go away. And of course there were moments
that were kind of like passing by a bad auto wreck — you don't want to
look but you seem to have to look anyway.
I watched The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits back then; and later,
Night Gallery. Those didn't bother me. Perhaps because I knew those
shows were supposed to be creepy. But The Wizard of Oz seemed to me
to be a movie they made to freak young children out, sort of like they
might take The Legend of Hell House and advertise it as a children's
movie. And even though I was way too young to know about drugs back
then, my attitude toward the movie was similar to that a guy might
have toward a bad acid trip he had once. Or, in the case of The Wizard
of Oz, the bad trip I had six or seven times.
I liked Judy Garland and even when young I thought she was cute, looking
a lot like the Catholic schoolgirls that I knew. And of course there are
certain elements of the movie that have entered into the culture, such
as the famous "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!" line.
In fact every once in a while I use that line. So I have not avoided it
completely since I have gotten older. But still, the fact remains that
the movie is basically the dream — nightmare really — of a girl who
has a bad concussion. And about the best treatment she's going to get
for it is a cool washrag on the forehead and a teaspoon of turpentine.
So much for the magic shoes.
These days I avoid it. I would rather watch Under the Rainbow, a very
funny movie about the making of The Wizard of Oz (or something like it)
and all the little people who were cast as the munchkins.
Now that kind of thing — satire and farce — I certainly have had a lifetime
familiarity with. Too bad they hadn't made Under the Rainbow yet back
when I was 6 or 8, too bad I hadn't been coaxed into watching that one