4The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Is a Political Satire
A book as bizarre as The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, with its winged monkeys and self-mutilating cyborgs, had to attract some crackpot interpretations over the years, the most popular of which is that L. Frank Baum's 1900 classic is secretly about the Populist movement.
The late-19th century Populists fought for the rights of the poverty-stricken Midwestern farmers and industrial workers, who are supposedly represented in the book by the Scarecrow and the Tin Man. Dorothy, the only normal character in Oz, was the everyman, and the twister that carried her from Kansas was meant to represent the "storm of Populism" sweeping across the states in the 1890s.
Some people dismiss it as one big straw man argument.
Why It's Not That Crazy:
A big part of 19th century Populism was adding silver to the nation's gold standard in order to help the economy, and, well, did you know that in the book, Dorothy's magic slippers were actually silver instead of ruby? And what does the main character do with this silver object of great power? She "walks over" the Yellow Brick (i.e. gold) Road. Right over it.
The economy back then was selfishly guarded by Technicolor dwarfs.
Then there are the little touches, like how "Oz" is actually an abbreviation for an ounce of, for example, gold. And Dorothy walks all over a road of yellow bricks down to a path that is ultimately unfulfilling. The road of gold leads to an empty promise (and also there are monkey attacks).
Then there's this guy:
Sir Thaddeus Snoot von Deadeyes.
That's William Jennings Bryan, a leader of the Populist movement who was occasionally portrayed in the press as a lion.
The only guy with a mane and a comb-over.
Because Bryan was also often accused of being "cowardly" for opposing the war with Spain and annexing the Philippines to the U.S., some think that the character of the Cowardly Lion is actually based on him. Conversely, the Wicked Witch of the West is allegedly representing the backers of the gold standard because she controls the winged monkeys with a magical golden cap.
We are the 99 percent! Occupy Oz!
3The Smurfs Are Tiny Blue Nazis
In the world of reading too much into children's cartoons, it's a well-known fact that the Smurfs are secretly Communists. But Antoine Bueno, senior lecturer of sociology at Sciences Po University in Paris, decided to smurf that right in the smurf. In his The Little Blue Book (Le Petit Livre Bleu), Bueno claims that the Smurf village is actually a Nazi, totalitarian utopia full of micro-fascists. He additionally accuses the Smurfs of being anti-Semites because, hey, while he was at it ...
KiTes. He said "kiTes."
Why It's Not That Crazy:
The creator of the Smurfs, Pierre Culliford, aka Peyo, was born in Belgium in 1928, which means that he spent his childhood under Nazi occupation and, according to Bueno, might have consequently reflected the spirit of those times in his later work, whether he was aware of it or not.
We can all agree that a person's early years can have a great influence on his or her later life. It's like how the creator of Mario allegedly based his design on his annoying landlord, except in this case Peyo drew little blue Nazis. It makes sense.
For one, the Smurfs are all united against a common enemy, the sorcerer Gargamel, whose large nose supposedly makes him look like a Jewish stereotype:
This is the face of a man set to take over Hollywood.
Gargamel also has a cat named Azrael -- a name that comes from Jewish mysticism -- and is the creator of Smurfette, who becomes a vision of Aryan beauty after Papa Smurf "fixes" her with magic.
Maybe if the Nazis got laid more often they wouldn't have been so uptight.
The most damning evidence, however, seems to come from a comic titled "The Black Smurfs," where the Smurfs get infected, via bites, with a mysterious disease that turns them black, mindless and aggressive, which Bueno interpreted as concerns for blood purity. The book would not have appeared in the U.S. to this day if the color of the sickness wasn't eventually changed to purple.
Who'd have expected the Smurfs' first crossover to involve Al Jolson?