Entertainment was at its peak with the seasonal production of The Wiz Live! on NBC television in December. The acting was exceptionally animated only comparable to the dazzling and colorful sets and costumes. This largely awaited and watched production catching the attention of 11.1 million viewers, truly aided in helping put many people in the festive holiday atmosphere. What was not to like about this rendition of the original Wiz which was another rendition of the movie, The Wizard of Oz? The actors were likable and the main message of the play clear enough for even young children to interpret. The play was exciting, entertaining, and magical and a whole new generation was exposed to this time classic play.
I feel the play with an all-star Black cast was exceptionally enlightening and a source of inspiration and empowerment for African Americans by highlighting their creativity and imagination. The play served as a needed boost for people of color who are all too often relegated to a second seat when it comes to the achievements and accomplishments of their White counterpart. It was so important for people of color to see people who looked like them involved in manifesting a positive energy, utilizing a unique and incomparable imagination and creativity second to no one. The world as a whole can only love and appreciate the talents, creativity, and innovation offered by people of color despite what negative lies they may have been told or taught.
The main objective of the play was to instill in people that no matter what you think you want or where you want to go there is no place like home. When given life’s endeavors you will come to that realization. It also made an indelible point that sometimes the things you are seeking personally from outside forces can be found internally within oneself. Such as the case with the Scarecrow wanting a brain, the Tin Man wanting a heart, and the Cowardly Lion wanting courage. These were attributes the audience saw manifested in the main characters throughout the play. The play was about hope, love and believing in oneself.
Unfortunately there were those who tweeted that the play was racist because of its all Black cast. There were even some who felt an all-White version should be made. If you do your homework you will find that the original movie had an all-White cast and the overall premise of The Wiz was to show the creativity and uniqueness that could be brought to the messages and characters in the movie from an African American perspective.
I find it sad that there are those missing the whole concept of the play by entertaining racism. As African Americans, we are accustomed to seeing many movies and TV programs devoid of Blacks. In fact, if the truth be told, Blacks are sometimes added to a storyline in a movie or on some TV roles simply as a formality. It was not until Blacks started directing and producing their own movies and TV shows that Black actors were hired to realistically or creatively depict African Americans from their own perspective. We are not where we should be, but in a better position to show our creativity and ingenuity. Productions like The Wiz can be nothing but a plus for showcasing our brilliance and creativity to the world. Sometimes those born with built in privileges tend to be insensitive to those other than themselves. It can’t always be about you. African Americans have a long history of being ostracized or left out and yet they have persevered despite real overt racism.
Thanks to those involved in The Wiz Live! for allowing people (especially people of color) to dream, wish and hope. The play was a much needed shot in the arm for African Americans and a platform to showcase a talented people offering immeasurable delightful and animated entertainment to the world. Those not in the know should know Black people do rock. Sometimes a movie or play is to be enjoyed and not analyzed to be politically correct.