W-100: THE WIZARD OF OZ

wizardofozWhite One Hundred: 100 Great Films Starring Only White People, #2 – The Wizard of Oz. One of the most beloved family films of all time does not have a single person of color. All those Munchkins? Not a single black, Asian, quasi-Hispanic, or ethnically ambiguous Munchkin to be found. The entire population of Emerald City? Not a brown face anywhere (not even amongst the folks waxing and polishing the Tin Man). Sure, the easy explanation is that The Wizard of Oz came out in 1939, and that was pretty much how things were. But what does that really mean? Well, it means that in the 1930s it was perfectly acceptable to not have people of color on screen, because at that time ideologies of racial inferiority and superiority still prevailed. And if you don’t know what that means, let me explain it like this…The Wizard of Oz is one of the most widely seen movies of all time, and there are no people of color (and no, the flying monkeys don’t count). Imagine you’re a child of color, watching this beloved movie, and not a single scene contains anyone that looks like you or your family. This sends a message to every child of color who watches the movie that they have no place in this particular world, and it sends a message to every white child that a world without diversity is perfectly fine. This is omission and oppression by way of accepted cultural norms. Does this mean that The Wizard of Oz itself is racist? Does this mean that The Wizard of Oz is guilty of perpetuating ideologies of racial superiority and inferiority by creating a world exclusive to white people? Does this mean The Wizard of Oz might be potentially damaging to children of color, because it shows that they have no value whatsoever? Or am I just being overly sensitive? After all, it is just a movie.

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