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Myths and Stereotypes in American Film

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On a different note, the film industry plays a part in stereotyping the gender roles in films. Most films portray males as putting on a tough guise where nothing can hurt him and showing emotions is a sign of weakness. For females, they are usually portrayed as very emotional and needing of a rescue. In the MGM adaptation of The Wizard of Oz by Victor Fleming, Dorothy, the female protagonist, is portrayed as the stereotypical weak female character with few moments of strength. Judy Garland’s depiction of Dorothy is considerably more helpless than L. Frank Baum’s character in the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. In the film, Dorothy is held a helpless prisoner by the Wicked Witch of the West. She can do nothing for herself until her male friends, the Scarecrow, Lion, and Tin Woodman come to save her as she sobs. When Dorothy defeats the witch, it is because she accidentally douses her with water while trying to splash Scarecrow. The book reveals a much stronger and proactive heroine. Baum has the Scarecrow helplessly scattered across the land, the Tin Woodman dashed to the bottom of a rocky ravine, and the Lion helplessly harnessed in her courtyard. Dorothy engineers her own escape by purposefully throwing water onto the witch. Dorothy’s bravery came from a previous experience while being held captive because she knew “the Witch was too much afraid to go in Dorothy's room at night to take the shoes while Dorothy is bathing, because her dread of water was greater than her fear of the dark. Indeed, the old Witch never touched water, nor ever let water touch her in any way” (Baum 54). While Dorothy did not know this would kill the witch, her actions show her as a brave heroine. During the movie, Dorothy’s male friends, the Tin Man, the Lion and the Scarecrow, have their own unique personalities that make them an individual but overall, the male’s gender roles were to protect Dorothy at all cause because she was the only female in the group. For example, in the scene at the Wicked Witch of the East castle, Dorothy was captured by the flying monkeys and taken to the witches’ castle. The Tin Man, the Lion and the Scarecrow had to be the brave and strong like the males they are supposed be. So the guys cleverly took down three guards of the castle and dressed in their suits in order to get into the castle to rescue Dorothy, as Dorothy lie helpless and weak one of the rooms in the castle. In all, the roles of the characters in Fleming’s version of The Wizard of Oz were stereotypical in a film.

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