The Shared Destiny of the Radically Other: A Reading of The Wizard of Oz

William Pawlett, Meena Dhanda


This paper explores the classic MGM film The Wizard of Oz from a perspective influenced by Baudrillard’s writings. The paper begins by locating its argument within Baudrillard’s influential notion of the orders of simulacra, noting the neglected distinction between the imaginary and simulation (or hyperreality). It then moves into less familiar territory, exploring some of the least known aspects of Baudrillard’s thought: symbolic exchange, destiny and radical otherness. These notions, we argue, not only suggest an alternative reading of the film, they also suggest an alternative perspective on Baudrillard’s thought. Against standard views of Baudrillard’s work as relativist, postmodernist and anti-feminist (Kellner 1989), the paper draws out a very different Baudrillard, one concerned with illusion, imagination and, perhaps, a singular form of ethicality. Our reading of the film, through Baudrillard’s idiosyncratic writing on seduction, ritual and initiation, suggests an understanding of ‘ethicality’ as relational, radically contingent and subject to the play of destiny.


Baudrillard; Cinema; The Wizard of Oz

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