Today’s number one box-office hit Oz the Great and Powerful is a “prequel” to the classic The Wizard of Oz. It’s about how the Wizard actually gets to Oz in the first place.
In clinical social worker Eleanor Payson‘s book The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists: Coping with the One-Way Relationship in Work, Love, and Family (2002), she “illustrates how Dorothy’s journey captures all the seductive illusions and challenges that occur when we encounter the narcissist.”
The following excerpt from the first chapter of Payson’s book describes some of the signs of NPD, or narcissistic personality disorder:
Unhealthy narcissism is occurring when an individual excessively pursues admiration, attention, status, understanding, support, money, power, control, or perfection in some form. It also means that the NPD person is not able to recognize, other than superficially, the feelings and needs of others. The rules of reciprocity are not operating in the relationship. This is not to say that NPD individuals don’t often shower others with attention, gifts, or favors. Indeed, they often do. But the ultimate goal is always for some kind of return. The giving may be to foster a certain image or an overall feeling of indebtedness in you, such as an IOU note to be called in at some other time. You, of course, would rather believe you received the gift because you are cared for and valued.
A passage from Payson’s book that further describes how the narcissist uses manipulation to get his or her needs met:
The narcissist has learned that other people do not always do his bidding or meet his demands in the way he expects. He has, therefore, developed manipulation skills, sometimes deceitful, to achieve his goals. Sometimes these skills are a highly developed ability to charm and bring others under his spell or influence.
Other times, he may be exceptionally good at using intimidation, power plays, or intellectual prowess. Yet another style is the martyr manipulation of using helplessness, obligation, or guilt. In many ways, the narcissist has assessed, with considerable skill, the vulnerabilities of another person. He then effectively manipulates this person until he achieves his desired outcome.
The Wizard in Oz the Great and Powerful
As played by James Franco, Wizard-to-be Oscar Diggs is a magician from Kansas who wants to be not a “good man” but “a great man.” Unfortunately, Franco’s performance and/or suitability for the role has been widely criticized.
Yes, Some Viewers Do Indeed Find the Narcissism
IGN: “Diggs is a dangerously irresponsible narcissist at the start of the film and his journey is to become a leader that the people of Oz can believe in. It is less about him being powerful, or great as he imagined greatness to be (full of pomp and fame), and more about him being man enough to give the citizens of Oz the confidence to fight for themselves.”
1amgeek: “Oz the magician is a con-man who has tangoed with one too many women in his time, which has put him on the run, landing him smack dab in the middle of Oz, a land which just so conveniently is named after him. Oz The Great and Powerful follows this man’s journey from narcissistic ninny to the good man he never thought he was.”
It’s been suggested by some that Diggs’s less appealing traits are more tolerable by the end because of his eventual growth into a somewhat better human being.