My mum always tried to get me to sit through The Wizard of Oz as a kid, when it would run as a television broadcast each year. It was a trial. At that young age, I didn't really get the appeal. I didn't understand where the musical accompaniment for the singing was coming from, or how all of the characters seemed to know how to rhyme their lyrics on the spot. I didn't understand why an obviously grown woman was playing a little girl. And I didn't get why Glenda the Good seemed like such a cheery big fake, or why they didn't just tell the Cowardly Lion to shut the hell up.
Each year my mom and I would forge a bet that I'd watch the broadcast until the color reveal sequence happened, then I could leave. I guess she thought that I'd get hooked on that bit of film magic, but it never took. The munchkins would come in, I'd cringe as they sang that damn Lollypop Guild number, then I'd turn to my mother and ask if I could go play outside. Pissed, she'd send me off.
For three years in a row that was our routine. She even went out and bought me collectable Wizard of Oz dolls one year, in the hopes I'd become a fan like she had been as a child. (Wish I still had them, I'll bet they're worth a fortune now.) Yes, my mother really gave it her all, and, well... I just never liked or got into The Wizard of Oz. Still, if she had any idea then the notorious nature in which gay men embrace the film, she probably wouldn't have been so keen to have me sit through it (though she's always been open-minded.)
I've since grown up, and even willingly sat through The Wizard of Oz a couple of times. You know what? It still annoys the hell outta me. But DO check out the books, which are textured and sinister and kooky and completely different from the classic 1939 MGM film. Then do yourself a favor and hunt down a DVD copy of Return to Oz, a brilliant, dark gem from the vaults of Disney that was a huge flop when it was released in 1985. A faithful adaptation from Frank Baum's original book, it sports surreal, gorgeous design, no singing and an actual little girl playing Dorothy.
Still, if I had to choose Dorothy's I'd pick Zbornack over Gale. But that's not a fair comparison. I mean, who WOULDN'T?