Over the past several months, I’ve happened to hear a few different people talking about The Wizard of Oz, and though the general consensus on the film remains love, there have been some complaints that have surfaced repeatedly. Now, I know most of the people mentioning these things love the film, so we’re all really on the same page. I just think these two particular complains have some pretty decent defenses, at least in my head. Uh, spoilers for The Wizard of Oz, I guess.
First Complaint: Glinda is a jerk who sends Dorothy on a wild goose chase when she could go home all along
The argument here is that Dorothy has the red shoes the whole time and, as Glinda says at the end of the film, she always had the power to go home. All Glinda would’ve had to do is tell Dorothy to click her heels together and say “there’s no place like home” and BAM. No need to go see the Wizard, no need to kill the Wicked Witch, etc. In this reading, Glinda merely wants Dorothy to do her dirty work for her to get rid of her rival. I think that’s an interesting story (and Glinda as a not-so-good-witch is the thread taken up by Wicked), but really, I don’t think Dorothy could’ve gone home earlier. Glinda tells her she always had the power to go home, but she didn’t tell her before because she wouldn’t have believed it. But really, in order to go home what she has to believe isn’t that clicking some shoes together and saying a magic phrase will send her home, but that “there’s no place like home.” She had to go through the journey to Oz to really believe that, and without that belief, I don’t think any amount of heel clicking would’ve worked.
Second Complaint: The message of the film is that you should never leave home
I can definitely see this being a valid reading. Dorothy does say she’ll never leave again after she returns, but I don’t know that we need to read this at face value. It’s a pretty natural thing to say right after coming through a traumatic situation and finding yourself safe. In a broader sense, the film could be interpreted as saying that new, outside things are bad – Dorothy also says that everything she wants is right in her own backyard. But I think the message is really one of contentment. It’s fine to be ambitious and want to see new things, but if you can’t manage to find contentment where you are, chances are you won’t find it elsewhere, either. Add in the fact that all the characters in Oz actually already had the qualities they sought from the Wizard, and the journey becomes one of seeking your own inner strengths and the value of those around you, instead of believing you have to go somewhere else and be validated by someone else in order to be happy.