38 Comments

  1. Witches normally have to fly around on their broomstick to write “Surrender Dorothy.” That’s tiring, so they’re impressed that Lio has found a way to do it be remote control.

  2. Not just remote control, but with macro capability so they just have to enter the person’s name.

  3. I’ve never found a satisfactory answer to this question. Was the wicked witch ordering Dorothy to surrender? Or was she telling the city people to surrender Dorothy?

    Apologies if this now also bugs you where it didn’t before…

  4. I think this is one of those situations where it’s obvious what’s happening, but Bill is wondering what the actual joke is. We should get a separate tag for that.

  5. Folly, she wants them to surrender (give up to her) Dorothy. Hence the lack of a comma.

  6. Brian in STL: I would generally argue that analysis of a movie or book should only be based on the final released product, so that something that only appeared in an early test screening is non-canonical.

  7. Brian’s link also has a picture of the “Surrender Dorothy bridge” over the Washington Beltway. The graffiti was brilliant (I’m very glad I wasn’t driving the first time I saw it). The best version just happened to fit perfectly (one letter per steel panel) on the bridge support. Unfortunately, the placement of the bridge made it virtually impossible to get a picture of the whole phrase.
    P.S. Another interesting detail in that article was that the original lettering in the film was done with ink into a water tank, using a hypodermic needle.

  8. P.S. @ WW – Even non canonical details can provide insight into what the scriptwriter or director was thinking when the scene was first composed.

  9. Doesn’t “Surrender Dorothy or Die” just confirm that they’re being told to turn her over?

  10. Kilby, I have to disagree: this information just tells us what the writers discarded. There’s Toy Story footage showing Woody as the villain, and what does THAT tell us about the finished product.

    Harper Lee toyed with (and abandoned) the idea of Atticus Finch becoming a bigot.

  11. Kilby: I think analysis of a book or movie should be based on what ended up being included in the book or the movie, and the author’s intentions are irrelevant. e.g. I do not accept that wizards in the Harry Potter universe used to poop on the floor

    Plus, what Bill said. This comes up in “original intent” analysis of the Constitution all the time. “Look, this early alternative wording of this clause clarified that this is what the Framers really meant.” vs. “That’s a rejected version, not an alternative version, and its rejection shows that it’s the opposite of what the Framers really meant.”

  12. If the issue is “intent”, then I agree that there may be significant differences between an initial version and the canonical final copy. It’s a little different when a cut is made in a movie or book just to save time or space.

  13. I think I’m the only person who has never seen or read ‘The Wizard of Oz’. Despite that, I’ve seen so many pop culture references to the story, I know a lot by osmosis.
    But this may be the first comic strip reference to this scene that I know of.

  14. Kilby: It’s generally hard to know why cuts were made. But my personal feeling is that even if cuts are made just to save time or space, the story with cuts is the story that the author ended up making, and that’s what should be regarded as “the real story.”

    Not trying to convince you, though – there’s no real way to settle what should be “canoncial.”

  15. “the story with cuts is the story that the author ended up making”

    In a book, you’re generally correct. Even there, some authors have published alternate versions of their books without the changes insisted on by their editors and/or publishers.

    In a movie, it’s very different. What the scriptwriter wrote is considered by many on the set to be more of a guideline. Actors ad lib. Directors change nuance. Sometimes directors make wholesale changes. Editors can also make a big difference. Then, some people above the director insist on additional changes, leaving some to eventually release a “director’s cut” showing how *they* thought it should be.

    A critic or reviewer should likely judge a work based on the finished work. But for exegesis, it probably makes sense to bring in any additional information available.

  16. there’s no real way to settle what should be “canonical.”

    Isn’t there? If the creator releases it as canon, it’s canon. Fans can choose to accept or not accept it (or extrapolate further) in their own minds, but that doesn’t affect canon.

    I happen to believe Arlo and Lois did share a forbidden afternoon a couple of years ago when Janis was off visiting the kids — but until either Jimmy or one of the Walkers confirms it, it’s not canon.

  17. … all of which isn’t to say, of course, that finding out what was rejected isn’t sometimes really, really interesting.

  18. I always interpreted it as Dorothy should surrender but I think in context that the city should surrender her.

    “But this may be the first comic strip reference to this scene that I know of.”

    Really. It may be the first you know of but I’m certain there are many, many references in many formats. (One obscure I like to quote, because *no-ones* ever heard of it, is the Cris Williamson Song)

  19. Arthur: I don’t see that the collective process through which a movie is made makes me more inclined to use additional information outside the movie to interpret it. If anything, the fact that so many people are involved makes me more inclined to base my interpretation solely on the finished product. Of the many people involved in putting the final “Surrender Dorothy” in the movie, different ones might have had different ideas about what it meant.

    Cidu Bill: Are JK Rowling’s tweets “canonical”?

    Perhaps it would have been better if I had said that there’s no real way to seettle what resources one should consult to interpret what’s happened in a work. I happen to think that Dumbledore is only established as gay if there’s sufficient textual evidence in the published books. Whether there is or is not is debatable, but I wouldn’t consider it settled just because JK Rowlings says he is. If someone else says that it settles it for them, I can’t really disagree.

  20. Are JK Rowling’s tweets “canonical”?

    Does she say they are? If she does, then I would say yes. If they’re just musings, then no.

  21. For the record, I was kind of surprised by the “Dumbledore is gay” controversy: I read the book when it came out, and when I got to the passage in question, I thought “Oh, so he’s gay.”

  22. The people of Oz just kind of seemed confused. Overall, the message only served to get the gang an audience with The Wizard. It didn’t appear in the book, so no help there.

  23. Re canon:

    Arthur C. Clarke wrote the novelization of 2001 A Space Odyssey. It’s been long since I read it, but I believe that what he said about it was approximately, “This is the story I had in mind when making the movie. I’m fairly sure Kubrick had a different story in mind that led to the same movie.”

  24. Well, here’s a link to “Of Oz the Wizard” which is the entire Wizard of Oz movie sorted into alphabetical order. You can skip to the S section and hear them say “Surrender.” But being as “Surrender” and “Dorothy” are split up, you can’t tell if they say it with a comma or not.

  25. Brian, it’s reasonable that the Ozians would seem confused: when would they ever have seen skywriting before?

  26. They seemed mostly to not understand the message. “Who’s Dorothy?” “The Wizard will explain it!”

  27. I’d think their primary reaction would be terror: with or without the comma, whether or not they know who or what “Dorothy” is, whether she’s writing in English or Swahili, the fact that the Wicked Witch is overhead at all cannot be a good thing.

  28. @ Arthur – “…the novelization of ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’…
    I never liked the way that Clark reworked a number of fundamental details, both in the book for “2001” and even more so in the way he undid “2001” with his story for “2010”.

  29. ‘there’s no real way to settle what should be “canoncial.”’

    That is even true of the Bible, the ultimate canonical book. Are Tobit, Ecclesiasticus and the Machabees canonical or not?

  30. I actually have some first-hand experience with this:

    I wrote a story, back when we were all using papyrus, in which the protagonist was a child. A few weeks before publication, I got a phone call from one of the editors: there was a debate among the editorial staff as to whether the character was actually a child, or an adult with an intellectual disability (well, this was the 1980s, so he didn’t say “adult with an intellectual disability,” but whatever). It was time to create an illustration to go in front of the story, so they wanted my opinion.

    My opinion.

    Now, they were paying me a crazy amount of money for a very short story, so I had to be polite, but what I really wanted to say was “I don’t have an opinion: This is my @#$% story. There is only one correct answer.”

  31. MiB: I have a friend who was raised Protestant, but is now an atheist. At one point, we had this conversation:

    Her: The Catholic Bible has stuff that really shouldn’t be in it, like Maccabees.
    Me: What’s wrong with Maccabees?
    Her: It’s just a bunch of made-up stories.
    Me: But you’re an atheist. Aren’t all the books in the Bible made-up stories?
    Her: Well… Those are more made-up.

  32. Used to be friends with Jamie Madison and could have asked what was intended in the Constitution – but he no longer at Colonial Williamsburg and so, is just a musician who plays period music. Though Robert is friends with Benjamin Franklin and (older) George Washington.

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