by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The best thing about the movie “Oz the Great and Powerful” is almost certainly the off-topic interview Mila Kunis granted to a hapless BBC Radio interviewer while promoting the flick. The second-best thing about the movie might be that it helped inspire another fun James Lileks column in National Review.
However will the Good Witch’s people defeat these forces? They can sew, and they’re handy with tools, but no one has any guns.
Naturally they win. Why? Because they believe. The Wizard gives them a speech and says they have to believe, and everyone cheers because they believe, and they also believe in believing. Later he specifically instructs some underlings to believe, in case they had entertained disbelief in the last few minutes and found the flavor and texture to be pleasing. While the underlings do indeed believe, they are confused about the plans to defeat the boundless necromancy of the Witch sisters, and have no idea what they are supposed to do. The Wizard does not tell them, but leaves them alone, appearing later in a remote location from which he uses smoke, mirrors, amplified threats, and a few fireballs from the sky to scatter his opposition.
But enough about President Obama.
But, of course, Lileks doesn’t end with that punch line. He probes deeper into “the movie’s overarching moral ethos: Believe.”
Believe! It’s the essence of childhood, no? Faith in something magical! But no child really believes past toddlerhood. Belief in childhood fairy tales is a magazine subscription your parents take out in your name. Kids gravitate quickly to the Pixar model, which is Hope, and requires action to fulfill. Believe means you gaze at the star upon which a crooning cricket instructs you to wish and trust a distant nuclear furnace to pay the rent or strike a tyrant dead.
Never works. But that’s modern politics. Believe! Paper money has intrinsic value that cannot be shaken. Believe! A doubling of the food-stamp-participation rate is proof that society has properly ordered itself to value compassion over rude economic vigor. Believe! The gender-studies college degree that’ll take 20 years to pay off will impress employers, who ache to free themselves of practical dullards and boost the bottom line with the wisdom that comes only from studying gonad paradigms of the 15th century.
Believe! A law that bans guns within 200 yards of a school is like the bubble barrier of Glinda’s realm, able to repel those with evil in their hearts. Believe! At least 200 million people associate Marco Rubio with excessive water consumption, so he’s toast. Iran is the definition of “Cooler heads prevailed,” if you just look deep in your heart. The president is a muscular advocate of American security when he deploys missile-defense systems he voted against. Believe!