Colour Lies

 

Dorothy’s shoes were never red.

Frank Baum gave silver slippers to his young Dorothy. Hollywood changed them to red, a Technicolor extravagance. An adolescent Judy Garland wore ruby-coloured kitten heels to match her full pouting lips; the opium poppies which send her to sleep; the blood which the wicked witch desires to spill. The changing of Baum’s coloured shoes also reflects not just the de-politicization of The Wonderful  Wizard of Oz books (1901) but the complete annihilation of Baum’s colour-politics.

A possible political-monetary allegory, the silver (slippers) of the people as worn by Dorothy, tread precariously up the yellow brick road of gold to the Emerald City. But The Emerald City is not all it seems. The inhabitants of the City are forced to wear green glasses so they think their city of metal and stone is in fact made of shining Emeralds. A fake wizard (political leader) controls a fake City. MGM omitted the politics of colour; it failed to reveal colour lies.

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