The Yellow Brick Road in “The Wizard of Oz” led Dorothy to the Land of Oz where she meets the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion. Written at the turn of the 20th century, what did the story really mean and what is its relevance to today, the turn of the 21st Century?
According to a man named Henry Littlefield, Frank Baum wrote an allegory about the politics of the time — and looking at it reminds me of the politics of today.
Is the Land of Oz our nation’s capital – Washington, DC? Is the man behind the curtain our president, posing as a wise know-it-all while really just a hapless pawn behind the smoke and mirrors? Dorothy can be said to represent the American people, lost and confused and trying to find her way back. So she follows the Yellow Brick Road, which could be made of a valuable commodity like gold, down the path to the Emerald City, where money is made of green paper and in reality, worthless. The cyclone (of financial chaos) whirls and turns and rears its ugly head, throwing Dorothy out of her farm house, and tossing her into the brink of disaster (the cyclone, the bank, Fannie Mae, help me Auntie ‘Em!). The Good Witch conspires to kill The Wicked Witch who terrorizes Dorothy and the little people (SP????)
The Scarecrow is the first character Dorothy meets and he is the dopey, unsuspecting, and ignorant farmer wondering where his brain has gone (and maybe how his farm got taken over by the big multi-nationals like ADM and Cargill). The Cowardly Lion, once thought to be fashioned after William Jennings Bryan, a political figure who the Republicans considered indecisive and a coward, might be one of the leaders of today, no?
Michael Moore would probably see the Tin Man as the icon of Flint, Michigan where the factories have closed and the hearts of the people have rusted shut. And what will the Tin Man do if he runs out of oil, oh my!
The Winged Monkeys, once the powerful indigenous natives of the prairies, say, “Once we were a free people, living happily in the great forest, flying from tree to tree, eating nuts and fruit and doing just as we pleased without calling anybody master. […] This was many years ago, long before Oz came out of the clouds to rule over this land.”
And the man behind the curtain, the Wizard, changes his appearance to please everyone, and in the end, turns out to be an illusion capable of doing nothing, and telling Dorothy and her friends, “I have been making believe.”