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 Post subject: Wizard of Oz Parallels
PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2008 11:36 am 
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This idea popped into my head in another thread. I'm sure I'm totally oversimplifying it to make this fit, but there are so odd parallels between The Wizard of Oz and Watchmen. It's a lttle eerie.

First, there is a journey that begins at the open of the story involving the violent death of an evil character. The Wicked Witch of the East has a house land on her, and the Comedian gets pushed from a window. Lots of blunt force trauma.

Then we have that characters...

Laurie/Dorothy - She connects al of the characters together and helps them learn about who they really are inside.

Dr. Manhattan/Tin Man - At the end, Laurie convinces this "mechanical" man to have a heart.

Dan/Cowardly Lion - He's paunch and afraid of life; again Laurie helps him face it.

Rorschach/Scarecrow - His clothes are very similar and everyone thinks he's crazy (has no brain)

The Comedian/Wicked Witch of the East - His death puts the story into motion

Ozymandais/The Wizard - He most certainly is the smartest man in the land who's "behind the curtain" of the master plan. Even Karnak can be seen as The Emerald City - the place at the end of the journey where the Wizard is exposed (albeit by his own words).

Any thoughts?

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2008 12:14 pm 
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Good parallels, but the WoO was, I've heard, actually about why America should go to the Gold Standard - a message more apt than ever considering we're kinda boasting here about how the dollar is so weak(!)

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2008 1:20 pm 
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AYBGerrardo wrote:
Good parallels, but the WoO was, I've heard, actually about why America should go to the Gold Standard - a message more apt than ever considering we're kinda boasting here about how the dollar is so weak(!)
:?: :?: :?:
Dude, I worked on a production of Wizard of Oz (I made the monkeys fly, among other things) and I never heard the director mention economy. I just can't see that.

You draw some interesting parallels, DD, but I'm not sure it entirely fits. Doc Manhattan and the Tin Man and Dreiberg as the Lion? Okay. But Rorschach is not the Scarecrow. The Scarecrow -- like the other two -- was unhappy with who he was. He joined Dorothy's journey in the hope that he could get a brain. Rorschach is perfectly fine with who he is and he doesn't seem to want anyone's help.

Also, the Wizard of Oz is a very linear story. The narrative has a clear beginning, a clear ending and a clear path. It is literally a yellow brick road. The narrative of Watchmen, however, could not be less linear. The beginning is muddled by so many flashbacks, the ending is never certain and the path goes back and forth from NYC to Antarctica to Mars to Sing-Sing.

And finally, Ozymandias is not the Wizard. The Wizard's curtain was purely a harmless disguise, more bark than bite, meant to fool others into thinking that the Wizard was greater and more powerful than he really was. Ozy's curtain killed millions of people at no benefit to himself. And ultimately, the Wizard's role is to tell the main characters that they were always stronger than they initially thought all along. Ozy's ultimate message is that the main characters failed and there's nothing they can do about it.

Finally, there are some key figures missing. Where's the Wicked Witch of the West? Where's Glinda?

Your analysis of Laurie, Doc Manhattan and Dan Dreiberg are intriguing, DD, but the comparison does not work.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2008 1:58 pm 
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The Wizard of Oz is definitely a parallel for the gold standard. Look it up.

I like the Watchmen comparison, as well. Ozymandias uses a trick to fool a populace into abiding by his will, essentially, and is sought after by the trio, obviously, who come to him only to realize the trick he's pulled, agree not to reveal it, and realize that they never needed to be striving for the goals they were.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2008 1:59 pm 
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Curiosity Inc. wrote:
Your analysis of Laurie, Doc Manhattan and Dan Dreiberg are intriguing, DD, but the comparison does not work.

Absoluetly. Just raising, what appeared to be, some interesting parallels. It makes a decent forum thread, but I wouldn't write a thesis on it.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2008 2:00 pm 
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Also, I mean, whether or not it's intentional, comparisons can be drawn between most works on a broad enough level. Thematic similarities never cease to be interesting, though.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2008 2:04 pm 
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The Veidt Method wrote:
Ozymandias uses a trick to fool a populace into abiding by his will, essentially, and is sought after by the trio, obviously, who come to him only to realize the trick he's pulled, agree not to reveal it, and realize that they never needed to be striving for the goals they were.

Very nice. It would be like if at the end of Oz, the four travellers were to tell the Wizard, "your secret's safe with us, the people of Oz need the illusion of the Wizard to keep them in line."

The Veidt Method wrote:
Also, I mean, whether or not it's intentional, comparisons can be drawn between most works on a broad enough level. Thematic similarities never cease to be interesting, though.

I definitely don't mean to suggest its a "rip off" or intentional by any means, of course. But I don't think the similarities would apply to most works as it does to Oz in this case.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2008 2:05 pm 
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Well, I mean, according to Moore, the similarity in plot with that Outer Limits episode wasn't known until they were almost finished with Watchmen, so... crazy coincidences can happen.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2008 2:09 pm 
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I think Moore would have a good chuckle about this thread.

It's an interesting interpretation, DD, but there's one small flaw. What you've hit upon is a formula for fantasy and adventure tales. Take a relatively naive character and make them experience something thats' out of their depth. Add a nemesis who's got some master plan to take over the universe or something. Along the way he/she/it meets other characters with complementary abilities who might have a little work to do on their own. Send them on a quest which incidentally turns out to be about self discovery.

Voila!

(I don't know about the Gold Standard Thing... seems a little deep for Ol' Frank L Baum...BTW I'm surprised Dorothy didn't turn up in Lost Girls ;) )

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2008 2:31 pm 
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dandreiberg wrote:
It's an interesting interpretation, DD, but there's one small flaw. What you've hit upon is a formula for fantasy and adventure tales. Take a relatively naive character and make them experience something thats' out of their depth. Add a nemesis who's got some master plan to take over the universe or something. Along the way he/she/it meets other characters with complementary abilities who might have a little work to do on their own. Send them on a quest which incidentally turns out to be about self discovery.

I see where you're going, and trust me, I knew when I posted this it wasn't some groundbreaking revelation. But it's more than just the basic thematic parallels. The Karnak/Emerald City parallel, the journey that ends up in a strange far away palace of sorts, the man who pulls levers from behind closed doors, the Comedian's violently kinetic death that sets it all in motion.

I can't think of any more right now, but all of these more specific parallels hit me right away, I was curious if we could find any more. I'm trying to do the same thing with all other narritives I can think of, and its not coming together the same way.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2008 2:33 pm 
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I think spotting the similarities is very insightful, DDC. However, I don't think it has anything to do with particular parallels between these two stories, but with parallels with all well-constructed hero myths.

If we turn to Joseph Campbell's Hero with a Thousand Faces or Christopher Vogler's Writer's Journey, we see the archtypal heroic tale. We see it in Wizard of Oz. We see it in Star Wars. We see it in AI: Aritificial Intelligence. We see bits of it in Watchmen.

Oz is an especially potent use of the formula and thus it is an almost universal template for discovering the elements of the formula in other works. I had a friend remark once that, no matter what's going on in your life, there is a quote from the Wizard of Oz that will sum it up.

If you really want to have fun, watch AI: Artificial Intelligence with an eye toward finding parallels to the Wizard of Oz. Do not be distracted by the blatant Pinocchio references. Oz is the true symbol system for the film and most of it remains somewhat subtextual.

I know. The movie has two false endings that fall apart. But the rest of the movie is beautiful and enjoyable.


As for the gold standard, there's an interesting essay here:

http://www.halcyon.com/piglet/Populism.htm

Of, course, returning to the gold standard is a bit naive at this point. All the gold ever mined could fit in a largish barn. There isn't enough of it to serve the purpose any longer. There isn't enough gold to back up the value of NYC, let alone the rest of the country. Our money is mostly electronic at this point. And must remain so. Because the true value that backs up the dollar or any other currency is not gold, silver, salt, clams, or anything else of contrived value, but the actual physical and intellectual effort that produced the value in the first place.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2008 3:22 pm 
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Thanks for the enlightening post, Vynson. And yeah, the gold standard allegory makes a lot more sense now.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2008 3:30 pm 
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Don't forget about Dark Side of the Moon!

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