You all know something? I would really like to get back to the happy rainbows of “this is how you can write better!” stuff. And I still do that occasionally, and I will do it more once I settle into a better routine with my new job (working 50 hours a week is way more tolerable when you’re getting paid reasonably for it). But what brings me to the blog (again) today is another “this is how you DON’T write” thing.
So I watched Oz the great and powerful the other day. Beautiful visual effects, and it was kind of fun. Dialogue a little clunky and on the surface it just seemed like the story itself was in need of less clumsy trying to shove the mythos of the Wizard of Oz into something which fit the vision of the writers. And on the surface, all the women were powerful. I mean, Theodora, Glinda and Evanora, had super powers basically, and were fighting each other for control of a kingdom. Not too bad of a premise, I guess.
The point is that you could tell they were trying. Really, someone was trying to make a woman power movie, I think. They just completely failed to dig deep enough into their own work to realize that instead of lifting the women in their work up, they were chipping away at their foundations and reducing them to being all about the male protagonist.
It starts out promising enough – Glinda poisons father to make a grab for the throne, Evanora her out, take control for herself with Theodora as her right hand. Cool. Daughter wanted power, Advisor wanted good for the people, sister wanted good for the sister. That’s fine. Even after the big “surprising” reveal that Glinda is actually the good one, we *could* have been ok. Glenda wants good for her people, Evanora wants throne, Theodora wants good for the people and is mislead by sister. We’re still ok – they all want things which are higher causes, or for their own personal gain.
Except the protagonist, Oscar, is then thrown in. Now, Theodora wants Oscar. Evanora wants Oscar to kill Glinda. Glinda wants Oscar to save the world and realize himself. Suddenly, these three women who had their own thoughts and causes want…Oscar.
Let’s address the prophecy right now. ”He’ll come and save us all! That’s why they all suddenly focus on him. Of course they do!” Fuck that noise. I work with prophecy in my own books. Prophecy used right is seen all over the fantasy world. Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Just like magic, Prophecy can’t be used as the engine in the story. It can be a tool, or fuel, or a cog in the machine, but it can’t be everything or it comes off as sad and dues ex machinaish.
One could try to argue that Oscar was the tool, and the women were merely using him. If the movie had been from the perspective of the women, that would have been more believable, but Oscar was firmly the protagonist, first of all. Second, Glinda is very purposefully trying to get him to understand his potential, not realize her vision of saving Oz.
It keeps going. I had to split this post into three parts, so Part 2 will be out… soonish. For now, what are your thoughts? Did you have this problem with Oz?