Maybe She’s a Good Witch, Maybe It’s Maybelline

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It’s one of the most famous scenes in one of the most timeless movies ever made:  Dorothy opens the door of her wooden, Kansas-built, tornado-blown, sepia-hued cabin and steps into a Technicolor world of song, (well, more songs) (different songs) and enchantment.  She takes her first strides into this new world and then either one of two things happen:

One, Pink Floyd starts playing “Money” off of their Dark Side of the Moon album, and you and your friends start to shout “Dude! Dude! I told you man, it’s like a conspiracy or something, man!”  And you’re too busy jumping around excitedly in your “legalize it” tee shirts to notice anything else that follows.

Or, two, you’re not high, and you watch as a magic bubble appears and out pops a glittery, pink Glinda.  Then she and Dorothy begin the most notorious of dialogues:

Glinda:  Are you a good witch or a bad witch?

Dorothy:  Who me?  I’m not a witch at all…Witches are old and ugly.

[Munchkins laugh]

Dorothy:  What was that?

Glinda:  The Munchkins.  They’re laughing because I am a witch.  I’m Glinda, the Witch of the North. 

Dorothy:  Oh, you are?  Oh, I beg your pardon, but I’ve never heard of a beautiful witch before.

Glinda:  Only bad witches are ugly. 

And since you’re not high, you notice it; you think to yourself, “Wait a minute.  If only bad witches are ugly and good witches are beautiful, shouldn’t the Munchkins know whether Dorothy is a good witch or a bad witch just by looking at her?”

On the one hand, Dorothy isn’t a witch.  And she is not from Oz, either; she’s from Kansas.  In both regards, one might make the argument that this good-to-beauty equivalency doesn’t apply to her.  And, of course, it doesn’t…in Kansas.

But, as Dorothy notes herself, she’s not in Kansas anymore.  She’s in Oz.  And in Oz, only bad witches are ugly.  In Oz, good witches are beautiful.  And in Oz, the Munchkins want to know whether Dorothy is a good witch or a bad witch.

Yes, Dorothy, you should feel insulted.

The good news for Dorothy is that, since they don’t immediately assume she is a bad witch, she isn’t essentially ugly.  They’re not hiding behind their giant, glazed leaves going, “Who is this beat-down butter face?  Better stay away from her.  She’s a bad witch for sure.”

On the other hand, they’re not sure she’s a good witch, so she probably won’t be signing any deals with Emerald City Vogue or Oz Maxim any time soon.

What’s worth noting is that the famous “are you a good witch or a bad witch” exchange is entirely fabricated for cinema.  This notion that “only bad witches are ugly” was made up by the screenwriters at MGM, in all their post-Depression sexism.

In the original text, the good witch who greets Dorothy outside her twister-fallen house (who, by the way, isn’t even Glinda) is old and “covered with wrinkles.”  Her hair is white and she walks with an arthritic limp.  And the conversation goes something more like this:

Dorothy:  Are you a real witch?

Not Glinda:  Yeah, but I’m a good witch.

Dorothy:  But I thought all witches were wicked.

Not Glinda:  No.  And I know that cause I’m a witch, and I’m good, so there you go.

Of course in the cinematic version we made the good witch beautiful because film is a visual medium, and by making her beautiful she becomes a visual foil to the ugly Wicked Witch of the West.  Or maybe smiley redheads in glittery, pink dresses sell more movie tickets.  Whatever.

Either way, it does not explain why the dialogue had to be changed.  There is nothing inherently “good” about being beautiful, nor young.  If you don’t believe me, Google Amanda Knox.  Go ahead.  I’ll wait.

By changing the dialogue to suggest that Dorothy isn’t beautiful enough to be obviously “good,” all it does is add a whole other layer of grief for Dorothy to work through with her therapist: a severe complex of negative self-image to add to the rest of the post traumatic stress problems she will unquestionably develop after this harrowing trip that no one will even believe she’s taken.

The Upcoming-Has-Been-Happened Zombie Apocalypse

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For anyone who doesn’t follow the news, the world ended about six months ago.  At least it was scheduled to.  On the winter solstice of the year 2012 there was a large and unintelligible hubbub regarding the end of the Mayan calendar, some interpretations calling for the end of days (or something to that effect).

Of course everyone had a different way of coping with the coming of the implosion of the world as we know it.  Some prayed.  Some went on spending sprees and engaged in orgies.  Others outfitted themselves with Kevlar suits, strapped AR15s to their backs, and wrapped a belt of hand grenades and flash-bangs around their waists, preparing for the inevitable zombie apocalypse.

This, of course, was all in vain.  Not so much because the world didn’t end, but more so because, if I have learned anything from popular culture, you cannot prepare for a zombie apocalypse.  On the one hand, I’ve never seen a zombie movie where they knew ahead of time the zombies would be coming.  But, on the other hand, I can tell you that the guy who comes to the party prepared – the guy who is fitted with the necessary weaponry, the guy who is well-studied in whatever calamities are raining down upon us, the guy with all the necessary training and experience – that guy never wins.  Why?  Because we’re Americans, and we love ourselves an underdog.

Don’t get me wrong – we love ourselves a badass too.  If you were escaping from L.A., or happen to be a Terminator fighting another, better Terminator, or were caught in a game of cat and mouse with Alan Rickman – yes, badass would definitely be the way to go.  But we are talking about zombies, so your prowess as a rugged ex-cop/marine/green-beret playing fast and loose with the rules does not matter here.

The point of this cinematic analysis is that, if you really want to prepare for a zombie apocalypse, fitting yourself for ground warfare is clearly not the right survival tactic.  I have surveyed some relevant zombie survival materials (you know, Shaun of the Dead, 28 Days Later, Zombie Strippers…essential texts on the subject) and I have surmised, if you really need to prepare for a zombie apocalypse, these are the three ways that one can:

Your first choice is to go into a coma.  It seems that zombies can’t smell you when you are in a coma, probably because of a diminished activity in brain waves.  This is a sure-fire way to not get eaten.  It also seems that if you happen to wake up from said coma in the middle of a zombie takeover, you are the right kind of ironic hero that will be able to survive, while the mentors you pick up along the way will all die off.  So coma seems like a great choice, you know, providing you can find a way to become comatose without accidentally killing yourself in the process.

Your second choice is to not believe in zombies.  It seems that ignorance is bliss, and, more importantly, idiocy is a survival technique.  The smart guys are a lot like the bad asses we talked about earlier; they can survive for so long, but they are walking on borrowed time.  It seems the purpose of the smart guy, the informed guy, the guy who knows everything there is to know about survival in post-apocalyptic zombiedom – his only purpose in life is to live long enough to impart everything he knows to the guy who waited until his wife got eaten to notice anything odd was happening.

Perhaps, if you are that guy – the guy who knows it all – your best bet is to not share what you know with anyone.  You might live longer.  Providing the coma thing didn’t work.

The last option is to suck it up and realize that you are just not going to be that guy.  The fact of the matter is you are just not going to survive this thing.  A zombie apocalypse means that the world is being overrun by zombies.  And where do zombies come from?  Zombies are just regular people who have been turned into zombies by being bitten by other zombies.  Therefore, the definition of “zombie apocalypse” would suggest that  everyone will eventually become a zombie.  Those are pretty slim odds.  Slim being, like, zero. Your chances of being that guy, that one guy, are so slim they are incalculable.  (Okay, that is hyperbole.  They’re very easily calculable.  But the resultant answer would be so small it would lose all significance.)

Being a person who puts all of her faith in the principles of mathematics, I personally go with this last one; I am well aware that I am not going to survive.  On the other hand, I’m not too crazy about the idea of being eaten by a zombie.  Having blunt, undead teeth gnashed into my skull so my brain can be zombie dinner fodder sounds somewhat unpleasant.

I reconcile this by keeping a cocktail of drugs leftover from my abdominal surgery in the back of my medicine cabinet in a bottle labeled “For the Zombies.”  While I’m not a supporter of suicide, generally speaking, in this lesser-of-two evils scenario, I chose death by sedative drugs over being eaten alive.  Plus it has the added benefit of me not turning into a zombie afterwards.

And, if anything goes wrong, I’ll just end up in a coma – and then I’ll be in pretty good shape indeed.