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.