July 22, 2014

By J.J.

wizard of oz curtain

Many books and movies have been written and produced about the classic 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz featuring Judy Garland as Dorothy. One film starred the late John Ritter (Three’s Company, 8 Simple Rules) as author L. Frank Baum who wrote the book that the beloved movie was based on. Another film, Under the Rainbow, was about the little people who played the Munchkins. Neither of these offerings, nor any other book or film, has ever revealed the true motivation of the author. Nobody has ever unlocked the hidden meaning concealed in the story…UNTIL NOW.

The Wizard of Oz was published in 1900 during a tornado of political and social upheaval. Author L. Frank Baum was an avid supporter of populist presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan. The populist Bryan ran twice for U.S. President against William McKinley, in 1896 and 1900. Bryan lost to McKinley both times. Author L. Frank Baum lamented the failure of the populist movement and the collapse of the fragile alliance between the urban industrialists (the Tin Man) and the rural farm workers (the Scarecrow). The twice-failed populist presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan was embodied in the Cowardly Lion…ALL ROAR, NO TEETH.

‘OZ’ is the abbreviation of ‘OUNCE’, the common measure of gold, which set the standard that supposedly regulated the economy. Presidential candidate Bryan and his supporters were promoting economic reforms that would have discouraged unscrupulous speculators. But the citizens were again led down the ‘yellow brick road’ (the Gold Standard) to the ‘Emerald City’ (paper money that, like today, only pretends to have value.)

Dorothy was ‘everyman’ and ‘everywoman’ who saw the truth before the others. You may recall an emphatic Dorothy pointing toward an opening in the curtain. She was trying in vain to alert her fellow travellers that the big scary wizard was merely a little scared man, not much more than ‘bells and whistles’.

The “all-mighty” Wizard represents the powers-that-be, who often rule by fear alone. The dramatic conclusion of Dorothy’s journey lends itself to an enduring political truth: You can fool SOME of the people SOME of the time, but you can’t fool ALL of the people ALL of the time.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: