I find the song Somewhere Over the Rainbow, sung by Judy Garland, strangely relevant to my journey with the Corona – 19 virus. It was part of a classic film: The Wizard of Oz.
I had seen the film many years ago but was disappointed when we came to the Wizard in the Emerald City. He is revealed as a sham, manipulating his hearers. I had imagined a far more glorious figure befitting the name Wizard of Oz. Now, years later, I see the point. We live in a world of sham and deception, very aware of the misuse of technology to control people’s lives. Indeed, this has become a key issue in the use of Facebook, Tiktok and other social media.
Baum wrote the story in 1900 at a time when the USA was emerging as the great powerhouse of the Western World. For example, I have a bit of memorabilia which alerted me to the visit of the Great White Fleet in 1908, a way in which the US was showing off their technological power to the world. I also find it interesting that the film was produced in 1939, at the very time the Western world was at the brink of war and about to engage in years of conflict. This power would be used to win the victory, but one wonders at what cost?
As much as I might parade the film, I am uneasy about author Frank Baum. He might be applauded for making his hero a young girl, perhaps representing his support for the emergent feminist politics of his time. I do not applaud what he wrote concerning Indigenous peoples. He argued that the safety of the frontier would not be established until there was “total annihilation” of the remaining Native Americans, who, he claimed, lived as “miserable wretches”. I am also naturally uneasy about Baum’s reference to the witches, so totally inappropriate in today’s terminology.
That aside, he wrote an imaginative story that maybe is still pertinent today.
As I will share in worship, I find symbols of tornado, journey and return to home, very meaningful at a time when we face the fall-out from the Corona – 19 virus. It is now six months since I began my ‘Corona diary’ in which I tried to keep a poetic and artistic record of this terrible period, which seems to be spinning out of control in places like USA. Now nine months or so after the first case was reported in the United States, the death toll there is over 200,000 cases. At the helm is a President who continues to underplay the gravity of the situation with a series of untruths. He is the personification of the wizard!
So, I turn to this film to underwrite my new series of images, which hopefully, I will share in time to come.