I was listening to the soundtrack for the Broadway show “Wicked.” It is based on the premise that the Wicked Witch of the West was really not evil, just a misunderstood soul. Wow. They are taking one of the iconic evil figures from literature and giving her a second look, an alternate-universe history that makes her, well, nice1. And that’s not right.
Taking this alarming trend to its pinnacle, could it be far behind for Hitler to make a comeback??
(NOTE: the following are satirical comments. Do not mistake them for reality; they are just an artifice to make a point. That is how satire works.)
After all, Hitler was really nice to his dogs. And he did put all of the German people back to work on that really cool roadway, the Autobahn. Did I mention that he created the Volkswagen?? That picture of Hitler and his gang of killers parading around on a convertible Wolkswagen has got to be the coolest, most disturbing image of the war. 2 So except for the 6 million people he killed, Hitler was a really nice guy. Really.
(NOTE: the satire has now ended. Back to reality.)
But we all know that the winners of a war write the history books, so they can adjust the facts to suit themselves. There are many instances of Allied atrocities in WW2 that should have been tried as war crimes. I am thinking of the conventional bombing of the German city of Dresden, or the firebombing of Japanese cities. The latter killed a whole lot more people than the atomic bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki (better left for some other article). But a lot of terrible things happen during a war; it’s just distasteful to try to justify them as being necessary for a greater good. It’s so much more honest to say what is really inside: the enemy is inhuman and we’re scared sh*tless; we need to kill as many of them as possible before the war ends. Afterwards, we have to go back to being human beings and play nice again. Or whatever passes for “nice” between bellicose nations.
So back to the Wicked Witch of the West. The play does a good job turning the Oz universe on its head. As with many revisionist works, there are problems with it, since it changes a couple of really key points that clash with the world that Frank L. Baum created. Similar to those Star Wars prequels that cannot exist in the same universe as the original Star Wars movies. But these are nits, and you can still enjoy the Wicked concept if you ignore them. Just don’t expect me to change my worldview: The witch is still evil. (Don’t forget, she did try to kill Dorothy. And her little dog, too.)