I love “The Wizard of Oz” and think it deserves to be considered a classic of American cinema. This week, one of my professors showed the ending of the film to my class to make a relevant point during lecture. Tears formed in the corners of my eyes, and I remembered how I actually did cry the first time I saw it. I’m not a big fan of fantasy, but the message that nothing can replace the ones you love is very moving. The way the lecture hall had people audibly sniffing after the clip ended let me know I wasn’t the only one that found the movie powerful.
After the video ended, my professor addressed the class by saying that although the scene is “cheesy” it was still insightful for the purposes of studying witches. My mood soured when I heard her say that. “Cheesy”? The fact that the movie came out in 1939 at the end of the Great Depression and the beginnings of World War II makes it unsurprising that it was a box office hit. In my English classes, I learn about how history provides relevant context to literature that allows the reader to understand texts more deeply. In therapy, I have learned that a useful coping mechanism when emotionally distraught is to pretend that you are somewhere far away physically from your problems so that you do not become so emotionally attached that you are incapable of working towards solving them. What better way for the people living through such brutal times to be given a glimmer of hope, than to be transported to a magical wonderland that shows there’s no better place to be than home, with their loved ones who make struggling in life worthwhile?
I wonder if my professor didn’t like The Wizard of Oz or just was self-conscious about including the G-rated movie in lecture. The way she talked about it made the film sound more out there than it really is, in my opinion. Compare Oz with the song “Pon Pon Pon” by Japanese singer Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. She has said what drove her to become a singer is to make other people happy. This can be seen by how her first performance was a charity event called “One Snap to Love” in 2011 to raise funds for victims of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. On the English-language Internet, I’ve heard people speculate that she made such an over-the-top music video for her debut single in order to cheer up the people of Japan as the nation started to repair and mourn after the massive devastation of the earthquake. The lyrics are really sweet, full of optimism and vitality as it calls people to become vulnerable by exploring where they live and joining hands as one in order to take life by the horns. The music video, however…
is full of surreal imagery as Kyary dances around a psychedelic room fulled to the brim with cute junk and faceless backup dancers. It’s wacky and colorful and way over-the-top. If my professor was weirded out somehow by the ending of The Wizard of Oz, then I’m sure she would have a cow watching this. But I for one almost teared up when I realized the context that this wild music video was released in because at the end of the day it tried to inject life into desperate times full of death. Let the people struggling decide what’s too weird to appreciate.