The Official Blog Of Edward Cline

The Wonderful Wizard of OZeroland

Hollywood is so bankrupt of ideas that it seems all it can do is:

  •   “Remake”
    films from the past, altering and adapting them for dumbed-down audiences or
    what filmmakers assume are dumbed-down audiences, and make them politically
    correct (e.g., The Four Feathers, Clueless, the latter based on Jane
    Austen’s Emma, Cape Fear);

  •  Produce
    “prequels” and “sequels” to proven blockbusters (e.g., Star Wars, The Matrix, Alien);

  •   Appropriate
    characters from past films for “new” stories (e.g., any Bond film
    made after Sean Connery’s last one, including Connery’s last one, Never Say Never Again);

  •  Adapt
    literary classics or would-be classics or imaginary classics for children,
    morons, yuppies, and pubescent adults who get tingles up their legs from CGI
    effects (The Hunchback of Notre Dame,
    The Matrix, The Terminator, etc.), ensuring they are also politically correct.

  • Make
    environmental disaster films, or nuclear threat films, or anti-business films.
  • Make
    historical films that are politically correct, regardless of the era,
    mythology, legend or historical accuracy, (e.g., Shakespeare in Love, The

What caused me to write this was the release of the newest Oz film
(the last one, called The Wiz, was patronizingly
adapted for “black” audiences), Oz
the Great and Powerful
. I won’t bother reviewing the sorry “prequel”;
Ann Hornaday of the Washington
skewers it to my satisfaction. L. Frank
Baum is
partly avenged.

Most films coming out today are said to be “based” or “loosely
based” on something else. When a studio boasts that a film is
“based” or “loosely based” on an original source, film or
book, it means that a claque of rewriters and highly paid hacks have treated
the material as their own creation and tweaked it beyond recognition.

For example, The Big Clock
(1948), a fairly well-done suspense
thriller,  stars Ray Milland as a crime magazine editor
who fools around with his boss’s mistress (Rita Johnson) and subsequently is enmeshed
in a cover-up of her murder by his boss (Charles Laughton). It is based on
Kenneth Fearing’s confusing, multi-first-person
novel (1946) of the same
name. The film is superior to the novel because its scriptwriters essentialized
the plot elements in the novel and still told the same story. Otherwise, the
novel would have been impossible, and, indeed, impractical, to project on the
screen as a straight narrative.

The film was “remade” as a piece of Cold War intrigue in No Way Out in 1987, in which Soviet
agents activate a sleeper agent in the person of Kevin Costner as a Naval
officer who fools around with the Secretary of Defense’s mistress (Sean Young)
and subsequently becomes enmeshed in the mistress’s murder by the Secretary
(Gene Hackman). Apparently all this was planned by the infallible and
omniscient Soviets (the Soviet Union would collapse two years later). The film
made no sense, nor did it make sense for Harper Collins to republish Fearing’s
novel with a picture of Kevin Costner and Sean Young canoodling on the front
cover, when inside is Fearing’s novel with no references in it to Soviet
sleeper moles or Naval officers, untouched by editor or screenwriter. A reader
expecting torrid sex scenes between Costner and Young would be sorely
disappointed, if not confused.

I perused the novel
in a bookstore the same year it was republished as part of the remake’s
promotion, and mentally noted that Kenneth Fearing, his name featured
prominently at the bottom of the front cover, died when Hackman was an
unpromising actor at the Pasadena Playhouse, and while Costner and Young
presumably were in kindergarten having their diapers changed and their hands
messy with finger paint. It was like having ordered a Gevalia coffee maker and
opened the box to find an hourglass made in China. Deceptive packaging supreme.

But this column is not about citing Hollywood for lascivious
solicitation on a public street. It is about the new Emerald City, Washington
D.C., the metropolis of OZeroland. I herewith present a précis of my own
“remake” of The Wonderful
Wizard of Oz

In this version of Oz, Dorothy is anyone who believes that Emerald City
is a magical place where every wish can be granted, every desire fulfilled, and
where faucets run with milk and honey. Toto in a basket is an optional feature.
I’ve left out the dog because any movie that features a cute dog is angling for
the sympathy vote.

Dorothy arrives in a town in OZeroand with the odd name of Detroit because
her house was swept up in the tornado of the subprime mortgage collapse, and
deposited unceremoniously on the Wicked Witch of the Gay/Lesbian Fiscal
Magicians Alliance, Barmy Cranks. Grateful Munchkins remove his ruby slippers
and present them to Dorothy. The sparkling slippers have no magical powers;
they are just nice-looking fashion accessories.

Dorothy is not sure she wants to remain in OZeroland, and asks the
Munchkins how she can get home. She is told by the Munchkin spokesman, Karney
the Geek, that she will need to ask the Wizard in the capitol, Emerald City. “Just
follow the Paper Money Trail…I mean Paper Money Road,” says Carney the
Geek as he adjusts his ill-fitting glasses on his nose, “and you can’t
miss it.”

Dorothy, in this version, does not encounter The Cowardly Lion, the
Scarecrow, and the Tin Man on her way to Emerald City. The Tin Man and the
Scarecrow are already there and part of the political establishment. The Cowardly
Lion is a rogue predator forbidden to enter the great metropolis. He will be
introduced later.

The Wizard, of course, is Barack Obama, an ordinary man smitten with
visions of sugar plums and cheeseburgers and fairies who flit about making
dreams come true with flicks of their magic wands. The Wizard hides behind a
giant fold-out changing screen where he uses an amplifier to sound like James Earl
Jones, and changes between his swim trunks, golfing shorts, and suits. He also
sneaks in a Marlboro behind the screen because nobody is allowed to look. The screen
bears in flashing neon lights the Wizard’s famous “Two Steps Forward, Two
Steps Back” emblem, a disc showing serrated rows of red poppies and a
rising run.

The Wizard is an elective office. He has been voted Wizard repeatedly
by his electorate of Munchkins, the chief residents of Emerald City. The
Munchkins vote for him early and often every Election Day, because otherwise
they will be rounded up by the Winkies to be carried off by the flying monkeys
and dropped into the Tidewater and washed out to sea. The Munchkins know where
their bread is buttered – what little bread and butter are covered by their
ration cards – so they vote for the Wizard and hold mass Wizard Appreciation
Days to show their undying loyalty. Many Munchkins have actually died of that
loyalty, but there is a “gentlemunchkin’s agreement” to never discuss
such things. It’s not good for morale.

The Scarecrow alternates between being head of the Felonious Reserve
Bank system and Secretary of the Treasures Department, and wishes he had a
brain, at least one that isn’t made of sawdust. The Tin Man, with whom he
shares a sumptuous office, starts up Ma and Pa shops that receive felonious
subsidies, or wishes they received felonious subsidies, or could benefit from laws
that would protect them from competition so they couldn’t be accused of having
accepted felonious subsidies after having failed anyway. The Tin Man regards
himself as an entrepreneurial farmer, although an unlucky one, because all the
“seed” money vanishes into the earth, coaxed there by nefarious Jinns
and poltergeists, strange creatures over which even the Wizard has no power.

The Cowardly Lion wishes for nothing, because it isn’t tame, is an unrepentant
meat-eater, and stalks Dorothy on the Paper Money Road on the way to Emerald
City, waiting for the right moment to pounce. The Cowardly Lion has been asked
by auto unions, the SEIU, the NEA, and the Honorable Society of Sloths to be
their king because he can terrify Tea Partiers, gun-owners, wrong-headed patriots,
and other recidivist enemies and creatures who roam the Forest of Poppies and
despoil it. He will get around to that once he’s had Dorothy for lunch.

All the witches in Emerald City are wicked. The most important one,
Mighty Joyoung, is the consort of the Wizard. She urges Munchkins to plant and
subsist on organic gardens, although it is rumored among the Munchkins that she
gorges herself during secret banquets paid for by the Munchkins, who receive in
exchange, to keep them quiet, rations and food credits and extra bonus
teaspoons of sugar and spice when the Wicked Consort is in a good mood. Emerald
City’s nutrition policy is, “To each according to his appetite, to each
according to his stomach size.”

The Wizard Consort often puts on competitions of strength for the
amusement of the Munchkins. Once she hefted a three-hundred pound pumpkin and
tossed it fifty feet. It landed with an indecorous plump on the person of Manuel
Ramses, mayor of Emerald City. Ramses, an ambitious and respected Munchkin,
felt offended and left Emerald City to become mayor of Rotgut Town, a metropolis
in OZeroland terrorized by the Wicked Witch of Weathermen and the Warlock Ayers.
The Munchkins were not so much impressed as made afraid by the Wizard Consort’s
display of physical prowess.

There was once a good witch, Glinda, but she was trapped by the Wizard
and sold into sex slavery to the King of the Musselmen Empire to the East, with
whom OZeroland maintains an uneasy truce. She shares an ornate hall with a bevy
of renewable virgins, and little word of her fate reaches the Munchkins, who
miss her.

Other witches are at the beck and call of the Wizard. One wicked witch,
the Wicked Witch Who Would Be Wizard, dislikes the Wizard and is always
plotting to take over Emerald City. Her machinations occupy the pens and quills
of the Royal Scriveners of Emerald City’s official newspaper, the Emerald City Blather.
The Royal Scriveners, whose managing editor is Munchkin George Stepinfetchit, ceaselessly
speculate on this Witch’s plans and intentions without ever reaching a conclusion.

There is the Wicked Witch, Sybil Alias, who oversees Health and
Munchkin Services, and disallows all Munchkin ailments but death. She is
constantly ringing a golden bell when a Munchkin dies, and to let the Munchkins
know that another zinc penny has been saved for the greater good. Sybil Alias
employs a panel of cheerleading Munchkins who jump up and down in Emerald
City’s Silinsky Square at the sound of the bell, yelling, “Cost Savings!
Cost Savings!,” performing extraordinary back-flips and thrilling

Another is the Gatekeeper Witch, Jalerie Varlet, known for her nasty
temper and sharp tongue.  It is rumored
that she, too, possesses enormous strength, and arm-wrestles the Wizard over
what new policies and decrees he should make. Mantha  Sunshine, the Be Happy While You Labor Witch,
is the least popular among Munchkins, because even though she is responsible
for the morale of her minions, she forces them to work under terrible
conditions and at odd hours, even after the sun has gone down and the cows have
come home. All the Munchkins smile when she conducts snap inspections because
they know what will happen to them if they don’t.

The last most important Witch is Prancy the Ageless, known as the
Wicked Witch of the Magic Gavel. She constantly patrols the streets of Emerald
City, striking unsuspecting Munchkins on their heads to see what’s in them. She
is always smiling because her bright, shiny face has been stretched backwards by
her masseuse and pedicurist. In her sanctum is a color photograph of her idol,
the Cheshire Cat, a creature from another fairy tale.

The Wizard also commands many Warlocks. A Warlock is a man who wears
pants, a heavy Rolex watch, and usually barbered facial hair made stylishly smooth
with snake oil, although often Munchkins cannot decide whether the Presence is
of the male persuasion or a witch. The Tin Man and the Scarecrow hope to become
full-fledged Warlocks and be bestowed with their own magical powers so that the
actions they take actually work. There are almost as many Warlocks as there are
Munchkins, but, for all the Wizard’s miraculous powers, nothing ever seems to come
out right. Warlocks are always forming committees to study why very little
works, and this necessary step is a constant distraction from their
administrative duties.

The Munchkins would revolt against the Wizard and his unpopular reign,
but refrain from even whispered dissension because they know that at the first
sign of dissatisfaction, the Wizard would unleash on them his army of
carnivorous flying monkeys and other indescribable monsters. Most feared of the
Wizard’s forces are the be-goggled battalions of Winkies, formidable in their oyster
shell armor plate uniforms and ruthless when ordered to restore order with
their deadly black Munchkin swatters, even when there is no disorder.

The Winkies are commanded by the grossly overweight twins, Tweedledee
and Tweedledum, foreigners on permanent loan from another fairy tale, who speak
in echoes and often finish each other’s sentences in astounding feats of
circular logic. At the suggestion of Tweedledee and Tweedledum, the Wizard
ordered that Munchkins may not own swatters, because they claim that Munchkins
are safer without them. The Munchkins protested, asking how they were to take
care of flies and cockroaches. They were told that the Winkies will take care
of them, but they never arrive in time.

It is an exploded urban legend in Emerald City that in the dead of
night, Tweedledum and Tweedledee steal away Munchkin children to roast over
fires and consume them with unseemly chortles and burps, washing down their
meals with illegal poppy seed wine. The Warlock of Discredited Urban Legends,
Snopes the Snoot, works tirelessly to keep Munchkin minds on the straight and
very, very narrow.  It was he who, after
a great effort, finally convinced the Munchkins that the Winkies did not kidnap
a renegade Munchkin in the dead of night because he made an illegal, slanderous
movie called “The Innocence of the Wiz.” He proved that no such movie
was ever made, thus breaking the rule, to the Munchkins’ universal approbation,
that one cannot prove a negative, and that the dastardly Munchkin was hauled in
for littering and eight unpaid parking tickets.

The Witches, Warlocks and Wizards do not reside in Emerald City, but in
fabulous little towns on the outskirts of the metropolis. These are strange,
un-Oz-like named
called Fairfax, Alexandria, Arundel, Arlington, and Bethesda. The Emerald City Blather
reported that
and other small
are rich beyond the average Munchkin’s dreams, in fact, richer than any other
town or city in OZeroland, because all the dedicated, selfless, magic-making
Witches, Warlocks and Wizards and their staffs and servants, not to mention
their friends and advisors, the tenacious Lobbyguiles, ride their swift zephyrs
to Emerald City to govern and watch over the populace of Munchkins. Most of the
taxes and fees and imposts collected from Munchkins in Emerald City are
magically transferred to these legendary towns, allowing their residents to live
in unimaginably ostentatious opulence.

Dorothy, still trekking down the Paper Money Road, knows nothing of
this. Her sight is fixed on the gleaming, shimmering green towers of Emerald
City, which somehow never grows closer no matter how quickly she walks. Should
she ever reach Emerald City, she will be in for a jaw-dropping surprise. Her ruby
slippers will be confiscated because she never made them. She will learn that
the Munchkins there subsist on a diet of rice and old shoes, and that the standard
clothing of Munchkins consists of sandwich boards or wooden barrels to preserve
their modesty.

Dorothy will quickly discover that she will have a wardrobe problem,
aside from the problem of gaining an audience with the fickle Wizard, who is
often busy with affairs of state and bribing his caddy to “adjust”
his score card. He cheats at golf, not for himself, but for the greater good of
OZeroland, so that Munchkins can be proud of a Leader who is excellent in all

The End.

There’s my “remake” of The
Wonderful Wizard of Oz
. I think it’s doable as a feature film. Don’t you? Perhaps
one or two editing passes might be required. Casting should be a piece of cake.
Financing, ditto, for a studio could always dip into that $450,000 tax
granted to Hollywood. Salaries and residuals might be a problem, but we could
always turn to George Soros to cover cost overruns.


In Capitol Rotunda, Barack Obama Draws Disconsolate Mourners


Our Imploding World


  1. Tim C

    Just as a random aside, there's one remake of a classic I can recommend. "Brain Donors" (by some of the folks in/associated with ZAZ (Airplane! etc)) is a hilarious remake of "A Night at the Opera."

    At points it's a little overdone, but overall it hits the mark and has a good sense of life (something ZAZ comedy always has had, and that Leslie Nielsen in particular – if not in those exact philosophical terms – has endorsed). Turturro does a fantastic job in the Groucho role.

    I rank BD in the same level as their finest work (Airplane!, Top Secret! and the original Police Squad! TV shows), AND as a worthy version of ANatO.

  2. Roxanne

    Somehow you blended the calm, authoritative voice of a fairy tale narrator with sharp, perceptive play on words/critiques of ideas done humorously, and nailing the truth about this administration and hangers on. Very well done satire, as it’s all true.

    You’ve changed my perception of the Wizard of Oz forever. Dorothy having her slippers confiscated when she gets to Emerald City, because “you didn’t make that”. Or Jalerie Varlet, the Gatekeeper Witch; an inspired satire on someone who deserves it so much. Obama as Ozero running around behind the screen, changing his swim trunks for golf shorts, and sneaking in a cigarette; and a description of him as someone who thinks goodies can be had by waving a wand; synthesizing him down to the essentials.

    It's effective satire because it shows the Obama administration, and assorted minions, for the intellectual scarecrows that they are. They are frightening, humorless, illogical people who can only tax, control, brow beat or banish. They scare away any joy in living, progress, thought, honesty, happiness. It shows them as the little, fantastic people they are.

  3. Anonymous

    Excellent write-up! I read it twice. J

    Ed, I would never have thought of a movie that I considered a children’s movie to be a metaphor for the corruption in D.C. Like Roxanne, I will forever view the W of O with different eyes.

    And I'm tickled that you called him Ozero… I've always thought of Obama as a big zero, an empty suit, and a megalomaniac.

    My question is: What will it take for all the Dorothys of the country to wake-up or grow-up?

  4. Edward Cline

    Roxanne: Thanks for the comments. I could have gone on for a few more paragraphs, and included so much more that's in Baum's book and merged it all with Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, but I think I drove the point home with what there is. I'm especially proud of my treatment of Michelle Obama and the three-hundred pound pumpkin and Manual Ramses.

    FrugalFrigate: What will it take for the Dorothys in the country to wake up or grow up? An act of fiat force so blatant and hurtful that no one could be exempt or insulated from its consequences, not even most of Obama's supporters and admirers. It would need to be an act drastic enough and widespread in its effects to accomplish that. But that threshold of "pain" is growing too high. I thought that incidents such as the forced seizure of the Cuban boy from his protectors at the point of a gun by a SWAT team goon, or the search and seizure of travelers at airports by the TSA, would be cause enough for Americans to protest, but people are growing incrementally accustomed to being the property or wards of the state. That's the threshold of pain I'm referring to. It will take something much more serious now for that to happen, something very catastrophic and that could very well lead to worse.

  5. Anonymous

    Ed, thanks for a great read and many laughs. This piece is the best satire I've read in sometime. That ARI, and others, don't recognize your immense value says nothing good about them.

    Your writing has a verve, style and knowledge base that the people at ARI and TOS must envy. Thanks again for all your efforts. You have many fans who appreciate your work.

  6. Slade Calhoun

    Late to the party, but ditto to the entirety of Mr. Grant's comment above.

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