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Monday, October 16, 2006


I remember watching the movie "The Wizard of Oz" when I was five years old and being so terrified of the wicked witch of the west that I don't think I fell asleep at all that night. She was the very embodiment of evil and wickedness that preys on the fears in a young child's mind.

I was thus quite surprised while in New York last week to learn from the Broadway play "Wicked" that the witch really was nothing more than a misunderstood and almost cuddly animal rights activist whose only crime was speaking truth to power. Indeed, it was truly impressive how the screenplay writers were able to revise the famous story only very slightly and paint a picture that was nearly exactly opposite of the one created by Frank Baum (author of "The Wizard of Oz").

It's a convincing picture too. Though I personally remember too many nightmares to be convinced, both of my daughters (ten and seven years old) now believe that the wicked witch is actually good, the good witch of the north (Glinda) is actually suspect, and the wizard is actually as evil as they come (far worse than the mere humbug that Baum created). The fact that this witch can really sing helps make her seem less wicked, but still, how can my children be so gullible?

Ahhh, but then I think of adults and politics (and other topics) where gullibility seems to know no limits and then I can forgive my kids. My eyes have certainly been opened to how effective a little spin can be. Indeed, the "Wicked" screenplay writers would do quite well to write for politicians who often seem to try and tell me that west is north, green is white, and wicked is good.

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