Gender Roles – Men
Room for Improvement:
Gender Roles – Women
Self-Esteem and Body Image
Gender Roles - Men: 5 Stars
Dorothy’s male companions are not only comfortable expressing their fears and perceived shortcomings with her, but they are also unashamed of the fact that they are looking towards this young girl to lead them. Despite the fact that these characters appears rather timid and vulnerable, each of them - at one point or another - displays the very traits that they claim to be lacking. In doing so they show us that their lack of confidence is potentially their largest obstacle in life, and that none of them are truly as powerless as they appear to be.
Gender Roles - Women: 1.5 Stars
Dorothy is a typical young farm girl without much mettle to her. She is easily frightened and often emotional. She runs from one obstacle to the next, rarely taking the initiative to plan her next more or come up with solutions. She does, however, provide some leadership on the road to the Emerald City and deals courageously with the Wizard when she feels that she and her friends are being treated unjustly.
Self-Esteem and Body Image: 3 Stars
Dorothy is a healthy young girl whose simple blue dress is appropriate to her role in the film. The Wizard of Oz also includes a positive portrayal of an older and fuller woman, Dorothy’s Auntie Em, though she only appears for short periods at the beginning and end of the film. The film does lose some points for an unnecessary comment by Glinda, the good witch, explaining to Dorothy that only bad witches are ugly. The suggestion, of course, is that inner and outer beauty are perfectly aligned in Oz, which is a dangerously simplistic message to send to children.
Plot: 2 Stars
Dorothy is hailed as the hero of Oz for destroying the Wicked Witch of the East, despite the fact that this “victory” was entirely accidental. Dorothy eventually succeeds in destroying the Wicked Witch of the West as well, but again, her heroic act is mostly unintentional. It is, however, born of a genuine effort to rescue the Scarecrow and protect herself and her friends. It’s still encouraging to see that Dorothy isn’t entirely dependent on happenstance or the kindness of others to find her way home. The ending implies that, like the others, she had the power to do so all along, but only needed the knowledge and the confidence to find it.
Character Development: 2.5 Stars
Dorothy’s story is limited to the drama that unfolds in the land of Oz, where her only purpose is to get back home. We don't have any background on her simple life in Kansas - whether she's an orphan or if she has any larger dreams for herself. We do, however, see Dorothy grow in confidence as she travels through Oz, standing up to the Lion, the Wizard and even to some small degree, the Wicked Witch. There isn’t much nuance or strength to Dorothy, but she displays just enough spirit to be a memorable role model for very young children.