Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Too Much Free Time

I was watching a bit of The Wizard of Oz on TV the other night. Almost everyone knows about the eerie coincidence of playing Dark Side of the Moon along with film and all of the thematic synchronizations that occur. But one of the lesser well known analysis topics surrounding the film is Frank L. Baum's original intention of his book (The Wonderful Wizard of Oz). Some scholars believe that the story is an allegory for the political and social issues of the time, most notably the debate regarding the US's adherence to the gold standard and a populist movement for a "bimetallic" monetary standard where the Dollar was backed by both gold and silver.

I know, it's pretty fucking out there but we studied it a bit in my Monetary Economics class in grad school and there are some good arguments in support of the theory. Here are the supposed characters inspirations, you be the judge:

Dorothy: traditional American values
Toto: Prohibitionist party (also called Teetotalers)
Scarecrow: western farmers
Tin Woodsman: industrial workers
Cowardly Lion: William Bryan
Munchkins: citizens of the East
Wicked Witch of the East: Eastern business and financial interests Grover Cleveland
Wicked Witch of the West: William McKinley
Wizard: Marcus Alonzo Hanna (chairman of the Republican party)
Oz: abbreviation for ounce of gold
Yellow Brick Road: gold standard
Cyclone: the free silver movement
Emerald City: Washington D.C.
Emerald Palace: the White House
Silver Shoes: the silver component of a bimetallic standard

At the end of the story, the Wizard cannot help Dorothy but it is rather her silver slippers that allow her to return home.

[note: In Baum's book, Dorothy's slippers where made of silver rather than rubies.]


At 11/15/2006 8:56 AM, Blogger DCVita said...

Wow, that is awesome! I never knew that. Now I have a topic for all the upcoming holiday parties :)

At 11/15/2006 9:17 AM, Blogger Jason said...

Yeah, you'll be the center of attention with A-material like that. It's amazing how quickly people's eyes will glaze over when you bring this up. Drop a word like "bimetallic" and watch your friends recoil.

At 11/15/2006 4:51 PM, Blogger Hey Pretty said...

This is good stuff. The other day my science teacher roommate and I had an argument over literary interpretation. He thinks its arbitrary and pointless. I may secretly agree, but as a one-time English major, I refuse to acknowlege that I may have wasted 4 years of my life on it. In your next post I expect to see the terms "hegemony" and "dominant paradigm" tossed around.

At 11/16/2006 5:00 PM, Blogger Jason said...

Well, I was kind of saving my post on the end of Pax American.

At 11/16/2006 5:01 PM, Blogger Jason said...



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