Oz in the News 12.4.18

Rhys Thomas’ Ruby Slippers Book Offers New Insights On FBI Recovery Of Stolen Shoes Rhys Thomas at first thought the call from the FBI was a joke. The author and documentary filmmaker listened to the phone message again and jotted down the return number. “Could this be a crank call?” he wondered. “Am I a person of interest in some investigation I know nothing about?” Calling the number in Minneapolis, he got FBI public affairs officer Michael Kulstad on the phone. “May I ask what this is about?” Thomas asked, still a bit wary. “May we speak confidentially?” the FBI official asked. “Yes,” Thomas replied. “Mr. Thomas, this is about the ruby slippers.” “We’d like to invite you to a press conference,” the FBI official told Thomas over the Labor Day weekend. “Do you think you could attend?” “Can you tell me anything more about this?” Thomas asked. “What about the shoes?” After a long pause, Kulstad said: “I can tell you that we have recovered the ruby slippers.”

The Wizard of Oz is a grotesque predictor of Trump’s America Oz is first wondrous and revelatory, then sinister and suspect, a good trip that goes wrong, swerving from the vivid Ikea yellow of the munchkins’ brick road to the scorched red-and-black tableau of the wicked witch’s eyrie. It’s this lurking inner wrongness, the darkness at its edges and the emptiness at its core, that speaks to me now. The US of The Wizard of Oz is not so far from the US of today. The supposedly great man living in Trump Tower – I mean Emerald City – turns out to be a con artist, a bloviating coward who relies on self-aggrandisement and empty shows of power to cow the people. The film’s chaotic momentum, in which events roll luridly from one rococo set-piece to the next, with Dorothy’s destination and the purpose of her trip moving in and out of focus, seems strangely familiar. And the central reveal about the hollowness, cynicism, opportunism, egotism and fakery of our leaders is chillingly apt.

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