March 22, 2013
On 12 March 2013, I went to watch the movie “Oz: The Great and Powerful” with my colleagues. It has been about a couple of years since I last watched a movie. For some reasons, I didn’t enjoy watching this movie. As a matter of fact, I hardly watch movies nowadays, compared to, say, 20 years ago when I was a teenager. Maybe I have grown up somewhat, and my perspective of life has changed. I still appreciate good, thought-provoking and meaningful movies, which are perhaps few and far between. I also appreciate documentary-movies such as “Zeitgeist: The Movie”, “What the Bleep Do We Know?” and “The Living Planet” as these are insightful and interesting, reminding us that we are all equal and we are all connected in the universe and there is more to what we see in the physical world.
“We are here to awake from the illusion of separateness”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
So, when I watched the movie “Oz: The Great and Powerful”, I felt that the whole premise of the story presentation didn’t quite sit well with me because it appeared to be based on classism, colonialism, imperialism, moralism, monarchy, hierarchical mindset, white privilege and supremacy, and a dualistic mindset of good and evil. With due respect to the actors and actresses who have by and large done fairly well for their respective roles, and I do love fantasy stories that are filled with charm, magic, wonder and adventure, what struck a dissonant chord in me is that somehow the movie came across as a shallow fantasy movie based on racial stereotypes and superficial appearances.
For the past few days, I have been wondering whether I am being overly critical and sensitive to have such an unconventional view of the movie because it seems that the movie is generally well received by the masses in terms of box office figures. So, I decided to google the movie title and add “racism” as a key word, and I am somewhat heartened to know that I am not alone in detecting undertones of racial superiority and discrimination in the movie.
For example, one article noted that “Oz: The Great and Powerful, is based on the novels of L. Frank Baum. Baum was a white supremacist; a flaming racist who called for the extermination of all American Indians.”
Another reviewer wrote:
“I would like to think, as a society, we are beyond such childish and outdated tropes. I wanted Oz the Great and Powerful to take me back to the original movie, not the original time period in which it was released. This movie is damaging. Perhaps I’m over thinking it and taking it too seriously, but this is what we need to start thinking about when watching films, especially films aimed at children. What stereotypes are reinforced? What agenda is being pushed? Even if it’s not intentional, I think it’s high time we embark into a new era of films made for children, one in which expired ways of life and existence aren’t the norm. We should be challenging kids to think harder, imagine deeper and progress at a slightly faster pace. I’m sick of boring. I’m sick of mind numbing nonsense. You should be too. Oz the Great and Powerful is hindering progress with silly messages, racist stereotypes and sexist gender roles.”
(“Oz the Great and Powerful” Movie Review by Justin Taroli)
Yes, we need progressive movies, not retrogressive ones. As the world becomes more globalised and we are awakening to our oneness and interconnectedness, we need to find new ways to express art and entertainment that are not based on stereotypes and discrimination but rather diversity and equality.
ocean (Photo credit: Stephen Edgar – Netweb)
“All of us are made of the ‘same stuff’, having evolved from the same First Source. To use an analogy: When the ocean first appeared, and then expanded, it was not created as something other than its drops. A drop of the ocean is the same as the ocean. It is the ocean, in smaller form. No single drop is other than the ocean. All the drops of the ocean are One Thing: THE OCEAN.
It would not, therefore, be inaccurate for one drop of the ocean to say to another drop: ‘We Are All One’. The second drop would simply say, ‘Of course we are. Just because we have been singularized does not mean we are other than each other, nor are we other than that of which we are a singularization. We are all the same thing, The Ocean, in singular form.’
This is also true about human beings. We are all the Same Thing, simply individuated. We are not separate from That From Which We Have Emerged, nor are we ‘other than’ each other.”
(From “The Only Thing that Matters: Book 2 in the Conversations with Humanity Series” by Neale Donald Walsch)