SAMANTHA ECHO LIVE AT THE PARKSIDE LOUNGE 317 E HOUSTON STREET, DECEMBER 24TH, 8:15 PM
OZ IS A WOMAN’S WORLD: FRANKENSTEIN, THE WIZARD OF OZ, WEDNESDAY GUY, AND THE ANXIETY OF CREATION
I am so excited to be raising funds for my first MUSIC VIDEO in a VERY long time. I wanted to wait until I was inspired, so I got inspired and now I am all set with a carefully-crafted screenplay to go with my song “Wednesday Guy,” the single that I released a few months ago. “Wednesday Guy” is basically a song about an emotionally screwed-up nerdy guy/ hipster prince with daddy issues, and the way in which you feel sorry for because he’s so screwed-up but on the other hand, angry with him for the way he treats other people, and for the fact that you love him and cannot have him. The underlying message is that there’s something screwed up in you that caused you to be attracted to him in the first place.
My nosy friends and fans and associates would sometimes say “ooh, that’s about a specific person, isn’t it?” And I would answer–I answered honestly because I’m a lazy liar– “yes and no; it’s about four specific people all smushed into one, like in Frankenstein when you smush together different dead people’s body parts and make a monster.”
Then I got inspired. I decided on a concept for a video: a re-enactment of Mary Shelley’s famed Frankenstein story, with me as the misguided doctor who creates a monster and then abandons him and has to deal with the consequences. But in the video, I will specifically be seeking to create a boyfriend (a.k.a. sex robot) for myself–in this, I will be creepily both mother and girlfriend to my creation. The Oedipal implications are there, but I also see it as an exploration of power dynamics within relationships and the sense in which all relationships–up to and including sexual ones–are about power. (By pure coincidence (or is it?), we have now entered the age of the Sex Robot, according to the Media the be.
Spoiler alert: I have decided to incorporate another image of creation into the video: I’m going to also make a scarecrow and bring him to life as a second attempt to make my own boyfriend after my corpse-reanimation creation goes totally wrong. This is an homage to another work of old-timey literature (L. Frank Baum The Wizard of Oz was first published in 1900, Frankenstein in 1818), but it is also a very personal, primal reference to my first crush: L. Frank Baum was a genius for writing the book, but it was Ray Bolger’s portrayal of the Scarecrow in the 1939 film that made me swoon with a totality that my then four-year-old self could not comprehend. (Not that I was four years old in 1939; I wasn’t born yet!!!! I was four when I watched the movie for the first time). Honestly, I shouldn’t have been allowed to watch it.
This memory got me thinking about the Power Dynamics in the Wizard of Oz. My dad (Phillip Margulies) has a theory that the Wizard of Oz (although written by a man) takes place in a Matriarchal Universe . It is a place where females have all the power. The Wicked Witch comes and goes in a puff of smoke and terrorizes everyone; Glinda the good comes and goes when she pleases in a bubble and transports Dorothy across realms; Dorothy melts the Witch by pouring a bucket of water on her. By contrast, the only men we encounter are severely handicapped: the Scarecrow and the Tin Man are both completely immobilized until Dorothy frees them (and they allegedly lack a heart and a brain); the Lion is psychologically and socially hemmed in by his own cowardice (and thereby cannot conform to the gender or species norms of his community); the Wizard is revealed as a fraud and a con-man with no real power. Oz is a Woman’s World.
The Scarecrow’s story, as it applies to my video concept, takes on a bit of a new meaning for him. It occurred to me for the very first time this morning when I was procuring straw (of both the real and fake variety, city girl that I am) that when Dorothy takes the Scarecrow down from his post, it is the first time he has ever been able to move. In this sense, she is kind of like a Mother Figure to him , as she gives him the gift of mobility, which, of course, his insensitive creator–the unnamed farmer–never did. Then, of course, he stumbles around like a toddler for a while, learning to walk. Perhaps that’s why he appealed so much to me at the end of my toddler years. In the video I will play both farmer and Dorothy, as I create my second Artificial Boyfriend.
But anyway these comparisons–between mother and lover and creator, between straw man and toddler–also got me thinking in a meta sense about myself as a creator. I was inspired by a Nathaniel Hawthorne unit in my Literature Class at Hunter College to wonder if there is a kind of wannabe-Scientist subconscious urge present in the mind of a Writer who decides to write about a Scientist. Literary talents such as Shelley and Hawthorne, living after the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution, saw Science becoming more powerful: perhaps they felt inferior on some level, as mere writers, and they wrote aboutscience, because, well, those who can’t do science will write about science. Are artists aware of themselves as doing the inferior kind of creation? I’m probably projecting on to them because, for a very long time, I have struggled existentially with my role as a mere singer and a mere writer on a planet where some people can make iPhones and cure diseases.
Hopefully this insecurity and existential angst will inform the heartfelt-ness of my performance in the video.