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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy Ending? The Wizard of Oz

The following blog is brought to you as a part of J.D.’s Endings Blog-a-thon at Valley Dreamin’. Surf on over there to see more.

What were they thinking of when they wrote the ending to the Wizard of Oz? To my generation as well as the generation before mine, and especially to those of us who were of the queer persuasion, there is no movie more beloved than The Wizard of Oz, but the ending has always been a bit problematic.

We'll begin with Dorothy's departure from Oz. She and her friends have gone through many trials and tribulations only to be defrauded by a wizard who is not a wizard at all, but rather an incompetent charmer with a talent for talking himself out of bad situations. And now he has flown away, inadvertently leaving her behind. So what's a girl to do? Enter Glinda, who sent Dorothy on this fool's errand in the first place. "Why, Hell, Dorothy", she says. (I'm paraphrasing here. ) "You could have gone home any old time you wanted to. All you have to do is click your heels together and say, 'There's no place like home.' '

Really? Now, your Auntie Vera is no idiot. I totally get it. We are supposed to say to ourselves, "Oh yeah! Judy, er, DOROTHY needed to go on a journey of self-discovery. She needed to realize her own self-worth before she could achieve her heart's desire. Only now that she has undergone this rigorous journey can she be empowered enough to reach her goals! My goodness, these staff writers at M-G-M are profound!"

That's what we're supposed to say, but here's what I always want to say: "What the... ?!?!? You passive-aggressive old cow! Why didn't you just tell the poor girl in the first place? Cripes!" Of course, there would have been no movie, but that's beside the point.

At this point, Dorothy, being the sweet, well-behaved, not-yet-drug-addicted girl that she is, doesn't pop Glinda one in the mouth. No, instead she follows instructions and gets to clickin'. Because for some reason she really wants to get back to Kansas.

So now we're back in Kansas, a place so drab that it isn't even in color, and (if you happen to be Dorothy Gale) the people who love you can barely tolerate you, and there's a court order out to have your dog snuffed. (Do you really think Elvira Gulch gives up that easily?) And guess what? That whole Oz thing? Just a dream. Mind you, this is a complete departure from the original novel, but nevertheless, like that one season of Dallas, this whole story never happened. Except this time we don't have a naked man in the shower to let us know.

Dorothy wakes up and finds that most of the people she knows have crowded into her room to watch her sleep, so it seems that at last she has gotten the thing that she really wanted at the beginning of the movie, which is for someone to pay a little attention to her. And she tries to tell her story, only to be greeted with gentle scoffing. "You were there, and you were there!", she says, "You" being the farmhands, and the snake-oil salesman she just met, and even Miss Gulch, who is not present.

And then, Dorothy makes this little speech, which I guess is meant to sum up what we've learned from the movie:

"Oh, but anyway, Toto, we're home! Home! And this is my room - and you're all here!
And I'm not going to leave here ever, ever again, because I love you all! And -
Oh, Auntie Em, there's no place like home!"

Really? She's just traveled to this beautiful, exciting, vibrant, colorful, dangerous place and what she's learned is that she never wants to leave her drab, safe, sepia-tone home ever again? If you were lonely kid trapped in your own Midwestern Purgatory where you never quite felt as if you fit in, this whole thing would seem like a bit of a cop-out. Because, yes, Oz could be scary, but it was fun, too. You saw things there that you had never seen before. And you made friends there who may have been misfits too, but they were a perfect fit with you. And you know that if you were Dorothy you couldn't wait to get back to Oz again. You'd leave right now if you could. Because it's true, there really is no place like home, but home isn't necessarily the place you live right this minute. Home is a place you have to discover on your own.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Thai One On! (Groan.)

Mario Maurer, who recently had his 20th birthday is a model/actor from Thailand. His late father was German. In 2007 he made a pretty big splash in his first, and so far only, movie, a gay teen romance called The Love of Siam. He is one of those people who is so cute that it almost hurts to look at him. But I think I'll look at him anyway.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

First Gay Teenager?

Sal Mineo's Hollywood heyday was well before I was born (yes, that long ago) but when I was fourteen a saw a picture in a book of him in the movie Dino and kind of fell in love. (In fact, it's the very first picture at the top of this post. Thank you Google.) What I didn't know was that by then he was already dead, knived in front of his home by a mugger. It has often been said that his character in Rebel Without A Cause was the first gay teenager in movies. I don't really think that's true, but it certainly is hard to deny the gay subtext in Plato's infatuation with Jim. When Sal Mineo went to Hollywood the studio system was still in force, although it was in its waning days. The studio arranged dates for him, manufactured romances for the gossip columns, planted articles in the movie magazines about his "perfect girl." Sal did what anyone in his position had to do if they wanted movie careers. He played along. His career was going well- He had been nominated for the academy award twice by the time he turned 21, his first nomination coming when he was only 16. When he began to live his life as a more-or-less openly gay man in the 1960s the choice film offers mysteriously began to disappear. Most of the roles offered to him were as psychos and weaklings. Coincidence? His last film role was as a chimp in a Planet of the Apes movie.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Eartha Kitt passed away yesterday, Christmas, which is ironic since the only one of her songs that really remains in the public consciousness is Santa Baby, which gets trotted out and put on heavy rotation every December. Madonna paid homage to Eartha with her own version of Santa Baby but botched the job by portraying the character as stupid. Earth Kitt's public persona was many things: exotic, sexy, mercenary, camp, but never stupid. And the amazing thing is that she, a woman of color, was able to debut this persona, make it popular even, in the American 1950s, when Jim Crow was in full force and a lot of people still believed that "separate but equal" was a reasonable concept. (There are still those people, but I'm not getting into Prop 8.)

In the 1960s, while visiting the White House, she spoke out against the Vietnam war and found herself blacklisted because of it. She bounced back. They never stopped wanting her in Europe and eventually they wanted her in America, too. Her career saw success on Broadway, in cabaret, on movie and television screens, and on records. She continued working until the very end, and had bookings well into 2009. She died of colon cancer. She was 81.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Greetings! (I'm Moving To Australia!)

Did you know that it is officially summer in Australia? Did you further know that there is a popular soap opera in Australia (sadly, not aired in the U.S.) called Neighbours which currently stars cuties James Sorensen, Sam Clark, and my personal favorite, skinny goofball Matthew Werkmeister. The Neighbours team seems to love to get these boys out of their clothes as often as possible, and so this year they have given the world (minus the U.S.) this Christmas gift: James, Sam and Matthew in the skimpiest Santa Claus costumes they could find. Joy to the world!
Special thanks to Hot Aussie Famous Males, from whom I stole these screen captures.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Where Do They Come From?

How does this happen? Until recently I had never heard of Avan Jogia, a 16-year-old actor who has thus far only had smallish roles in smallish projects. Now it seems as if everywhere I turn there he is, even though he still hasn't had a breakthrough role. Well, Avan, you sure are pretty. I hope you have as much luck with the acting thing as you have with the getting your picture on the internet thing.
Oh, and the answer to my question, where do they come from? Canada, of course.