Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Wicked is Gay (and here's why)

Difficulty: 0

[crackling fire]

Elphie, get in this cab, dont be a fool, Glinda cried.

The driver was adjusting the reins and yelling at Elphaba to sod off.

Youll be all right, Elphaba said, now youre a seasoned traveler.

This is just the return leg of a voyage you already know.

She put her face against Glindas and kissed her.

Hold out, if you can, she murmured, and kissed her again.

Hold out, my sweet.

[deep inhale]

[high pitched screaming]

[upbeat intro music]

In October 2003, Wicked the musical officially opened in the Gershwin Theater on Broadway.

Since then it has become one of the most successful Broadway shows in history.

In July 2017 it became the second-highest grossing Broadway musical

only after The Lion King.

And on October 28, 2019, it surpassed Les Misrables,

becoming Broadways fifth-longest running show ever.

But if it has been so successful for over sixteen years,

how come Im just now making the case that Wicked has been gay all along?

Well, for starters the quote at the top of this video is a direct citation of the book Wicked is based on.

Wicked: The Life and Times of The Wicked Witch [of the West] was written by Gregory Maguire

and released in 1996.

It takes the popular childrens tale of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

and rewrites it into a gritty, morally grey and adult world.

And though it is sometimes hard to discern between the badly pacing and

postmodernist mumbo-jumbo but there is some serious queer text involved.

The musical tried to sidetrack this text, but simultaneously didnt seem able to get rid of it.

That is what this video is about.

Because even in its current state, I think Wicked the musical,

actually makes a lot more sense if the subtext the show is dancing around becomes text.

And I will try to convince you of that in this pretentiously long video.

But its not just about queering a text.

Ill be talking about intersectionality and stereotypes that transcend adaptations

and even discuss some problems with Broadway itself.

Perhaps it is high and mighty of me.

Like, the absolute arrogance you must have as an unpaid and unemployed 25-year-old

to think you can topple an incredibly successful Broadway show.

But as the musical Hamilton put it: I have something to prove,

and I have nothing to lose.

So settle in, ladies and gentle friends.

And let me tell you about a queer, queer story somewhere over the rainbow

If happy little blue birds fly, beyond the rainbow

Why, oh why, can't I?

For the people who only know of Wicked by name

let me quickly run you through some plot elements.

Elphaba is born green and [starts chuckling] they hold this green baby doll

like it's a high school production instead of a billion-dollar grossing Broadway show

but yeah, Elphaba is green and she is despised for that.

She also has tremendous magical powers that are linked to her emotions

and she has never been able to control.

Then at university she learns from her history professor Dr. Dillamond, that Animals

these humanoid animals you see throughout the show are being systematically oppressed.

While they used to be able to speak, a lot of Animals are now literally dehumanized and

slowly go back to their animal state.

[Dr. Dillamond blares]

Like that.

So Elphaba is like Whoa thats crazy!

Someone should tell the person in power, The Wizard, that this is happening!

After all, you should have trust in the system that created this oppression in the first place!"

And Dillamond goes: Yeah, lets not demand change, lets wait for it!

Couple scenes later, he gets fired because Animals are no longer permitted to teach

and still Elphaba hasnt put the pieces together that maybe this is a systemic problem

instead of a random one.

But she catches on once she gets an invitation from The Wizard to meet him.

But first The Wizard uses her magical powers

to painfully morph his monkey servants into having wings.

And thats when Elphabas like: You dont even have magical powers!

You are behind the system that enforced these bad rules and Im going to hold you accountable!

And the Wizard is like: Haha!

Not with the propaganda Im going to unleash on our society, you wont!

So Elphaba gets ostracized by all of Oz and then magics a broom and flies away.

[final note of Defying Gravity off-key]

The second act begins after some years presumably have gone by

and Elphaba is hated throughout Oz.

There is a moment where the Wizard tries to reconciliate with her and Elphaba goes:

"Well, holding the system accountable sure is tiring.

But it changed a little so I guess I can call it quits[gasps]


You captured my favorite teacher and he can no longer speak?

Well, now its personal again!

F*ck you Wizard! I'm leaving!"

But her escape doesnt go on for long, because she is getting increasingly cornered.

She is at Kiamo Ko when she gets murdered by a bucket of water!

Exceptplot twist, she didnt die at all and escapes Oz.

The End!

In broad strokes this is storyline A. For simplicitys sake I only focused on Elphaba,

because the moment you throw Glinda in the mix, the story becomes a lot more layered.

For one, Glinda is the narrator of the entire show.

Apart from the opening number and the final number, this show consists entirely out of flashbacks.

The show starts with the Ozians celebrating Elphabas death.

Meanwhile a great Glinda actress will show the hurt in her eyes between the fake smiles.

This is because we later learn, at the end of the show,

Elphaba requested of Glinda not to clear her name.

Knowing it would only turn the pitchforks against Glinda.

ELPHABA: Promise me you won't try to clear my name?

GLINDA: No, no!

ELPHABA: Promise!

As, what Glinda assumes, is Elphabas last wish before she died,

she grands her that wish in the opening scene.

However, there are still moments where she slips up.

For example, when she tries to nuance the question if people are born evil.

Which she counters with a different question: "Are people born Wicked or..."

GLINDA: "Do they have wickedness trust upon them?"

Similarly, when someone asks or more accurately accuses

Glinda of being friends with Elphaba.

Despite knowing the whole crowd will turn against her, it is too painful for Glinda to deny it.


Yes. [crowd gasps]

Well it depends on what you mean by friend."

To great shock and horror to everyone around her.

This is what triggers the flashback to the time they first met at Shiz University.

A transition in time happens and a hopeful Elphaba sprints out of the Time Dragon Clock.

Another painful detail in this moment is how Glinda reaches out to Elphaba

But physically can no longer reach her.

The tension between Elphaba and Glinda is set up right in the beginning

when they are forced to room together.

And in true early 2000s fashion this is because [annoying voice] Galinda is the popular girl

who likes make-up and being pretty. While Elphaba is the nerdy girl with glasses and likes books.

[normal voice] To be fair, if simplified that is their dynamic.

Especially in American productions they love to play up the dumb blonde trope.

While the original book goes out of its way to establish Galinda being the first girl of her entire region

to be intelligent enough to enter university.

But the musical? Has none of that.

GLINDA: I don't see why you cant just teach us history instead of always harping on the past.

[audience laughter]

There is an immediate repulsion but simultaneous attraction between Elphaba and Glinda.

This is a very common theater trope, but the difference is that for once the couple isnt heterosexual.

Their first duet 'What Is This Feeling?' is actually an affirmation of this common trope.

The girls narrate their feelings to one another, how their pulse rush and their face flush.

All leading up to the chorus of this song, revealing to us that the feeling they experience:

BOTH: Loathing! Unadulterated loathing!

But you and I dear viewer, we arent mere spectators

taking what is presented to us at face value.

We know how these stories go.

I loathe you!

[gasps] I loathe you!

I loathed you first!

The two protagonists may say they loathe each other in the beginning.

But then comes a moment of understanding and reconciliation,

which then leads to a healthier expression expression of their love for each other,

but not before they silently pine for the final half of the story.

Because plotline B is in the way,

and they think the other person doesnt return their romantic feelings.

Beat for beat, Glinda and Elphabas story follows one of a romantic story arc.

Songwriter Stephen Schwartz may have thought 'What Is This Feeling?' was a fun twist

to set a declaration of loathing to the backdrop of an upbeat pop song.

But all it did was highlight the unspoken tension between the two female protagonists.

This is even further emphasized by the many oppositions between Glinda and Elphaba.

Throughout the show they are polar opposites.

Notice how Glinda and Elphaba are both powerful witches,

but one is praised while the other is despised.

Notice how Elphaba is the protagonist for the audience

but Glinda is the protagonist for the Ozians on stage.

And what about the staging where Glinda has always a big crowd surrounding her,

while crowds disperse the moment Elphaba enters a scene.

Its all a very strong visual of their assumed differences.

Even a minor detail like their twist on the Shiz uniforms comes to mind.

The ensemble wears blue-and-white school uniforms, but Glinda is in all white

while Elphaba is entirely in blue.

But after their reconciliation song 'Popular' notice how Elphaba has a white blazer on

visually representing that Glinda and Elphaba are growing closer.

And for the skeptic in the audience that wants to point out that Glindas Shiz uniform stays white throughout.

Then I have to congratulate you on your ability of sight.

However! Arguably Glindas biggest character moment happens at the end of act one

during 'Defying Gravity'.

And what do we see in the second act?

All of Glindas costumes are either a shade of green or blue

visibly showing that she is on Elphabas side.

Another detail is one I have pointed out previously but is worth mentioning in this video as well.

To make it clear to the audience that Oz is a different place from our world,

there are multiple signifiers in place.

The humanoid animals are a signifier that can be traced all the way back

to the original 'The Wonderful Wizard of Oz' book by L. Frank Baum.

Another signifier is the extravagant clothing, particularly of the ensemble.

But the signifier I want to talk about is unique to the musical, as in,

they are the first adaptation of this story to incorporate it.

This is what I call the word blends.

Throughout the show youll hear words like:

[music swells]

A weird soup of two different words smashed together.

If you register who speaks them at which point in the musical, like I have,

there are some very interesting patterns to be found.

For instance, Elphaba never says these word blends.

This could have several reasons, the biggest I can come up with is because Elphaba needs

to be relatable to the audience and having her say these weird word blends

will set a barrier between us and her.

Like I mentioned, Elphaba isnt the protagonist within Oz.

But she is the protagonist for the audience.

Shes weird for not saying them in Oz, but she registers as normal to the audience.

The people who tend to say these word blends are the people that side with The Wizard.

Interestingly enough, The Wizard doesnt say the word blends either,

but thats because his image is bigger than what he actually is.

He is a fraud, and as people will know from The Wizard of Oz, he is from our world.

But the people that support himand therefore to a larger extend

dont care about the Animal cause use these words.

The biggest users in principal roles are Madame Morrible, Glinda, and surprisingly, Nessarose.

Madame Morrible is the most straightforward using the word blends from the first scene

all the way up to the moment Glinda sends her to prison.

MORRIBLE: Miniscule 'differentiations'.

Even after the Wizard is forced to leave via balloon, Morribles loyalty to the cause is unwavering.

Nessa also uses the word blends from start to finish, but for her it reflects less

her allegiance to the Wizard and more her tenuous relationship with her sister.

Their sibling relationship is complex, and there is an underlying sense that neither

Nessarose nor Elphaba ever feels good enough.

It brings kinship as well as rivalry.

NESSA: We deserve each other.

Glinda is the most interesting of the bunch, because she is the only one who switches sides.

She starts off spouting one ridiculous blend after the other,

which reflects her apathy towards the oppression the Animals face.

DR. DILLAMOND: GGGGlinda! GLINDA: I really dont see what the problem is.

Every other professor seems to be able to pronounce my name.

This all changes after Dr. Dillamond gets fired and she changes her name from Galinda

to Glinda in his honor.

This, of course, is played for laughs.

As are most of character growth moments for Glinda.

But when we look at the word blends, it does reflect that she has changed her perspective,

because she no longer uses them except for when she has to assimilate

like when she begs forgiveness to the Wizard in act two.

And when she informs the crowd of Elphabas demise.

But even with the latter there is the striking difference in tone between

'No One Mourns The Wicked', and the 'Finale'.

Thats because the opening number is through the eyes of the Ozians, who are glad Elphaba died

and believe Glinda is on their side, while the 'Finale' is through Glindas point of view.

Who does mourn Elphaba but has to do so in private.

Reflecting in the word blends it shows that her loyalty doesnt lie with The Wizard,

it has ever since this scene, been with Elphaba.

Then, if Glinda is already on Elphabas side at this point,

why doesnt she step on the broom with Elphaba?

Thats a question gelphie shippers love to ponder over.

Because the thing is, she seriously considers it.

Joins in on the dream of this revolution where they are a team, capable of anything.

But one of the biggest oppositions between Elphaba and Glinda is that Elphaba is able

to make spontaneous and rash decisions, while Glinda has to think every step of the way through.

And yes, this will be shameless Glinda-is-actually- the-smartest-person-in-the-story propaganda

stick with me, alright?

Glinda is a calculating girl, and shes already done the math before she finishes the song.

Going along with Elphaba is too unpredictable, and Glinda cant do unpredictable.

She needs to be able to see every step of the way through.

Its why she rams on about needing to be in sorcery class, or why she warns Elphaba

before the mob comes to get her, already having figured out how it would end

if she isn't there to warn her.

Shes also the one who puts the pieces together that Elphaba is The Wizards child.

The only time Glinda goes all in, risks everything without knowing how it ends,

is right here at this dance.

She rejects her boyfriend, her friends, her social circle,

and everything she had grown up believing she wanted in life.

This is Glindas 'Defying Gravity' moment; how small it may seem to you.

Glinda is ready to give up everything she holds dear for a person

she doesnt know will forgive her for the prank she pulled, and she does it anyway.

No matter the consequences.

Because its the right thing to do.

Even polar opposites are still both a polar.

That is to say, Elphaba and Glinda have much more in common than you might think on first viewing.

Even as I pointed out their differences, it was impossible not to mention how that gap

is being bridged time and time again.

Simply put, Elphaba and Glinda are opposites of the same coin.

This is no different when it comes to their character arcs.

Elphabas character arc is made very clear, pretty much the moment she is first mentioned.

Everyone is repulsed by her appearance.

The closest person to her at the beginning of the story is her sister Nessarose,

who lashes out when Elphaba tries to protect her and magic unintentionally burst out of her.

In the song The Wizard and Iwhich is Elphabas I Want songshe explicitly states

that she wants to receive love and acceptance.

ELPHABA: No father is not proud of you

No sister acts ashamed. And all of Oz has to love you!

When by the Wizard, you're acclaimed.

And she assumes she can only get this acceptance by conforming to the norm.

She wishes to meet the Wizard so he can degreenify her.

Straight up wants to have him erase a big part of her identity and conform her into something

that the people around her would find more palpable.

It is made no secret that Elphaba is incredibly lonely and just wants someone to accept her.

And shes willing to destroy parts of herself to receive that affection she craves.

The trick to understanding Wicked is that Glinda has the exact same desires as Elphaba.

Only their circumstances are opposite of each other.

Glinda gets a different twist on the I Want song.

She gets an I Have song.

I have everything that Im supposed to want, and yet and yet and yet.

Im missing something.

GLINDA: Because happy is what happens, when all your dreams come true.

GLINDA: Isn't it?

Its Elphaba shes missing.

Her equal. Her soulmate even.

Only does she not dare admit it to herself.

GLINDA: And if that joy that thrill.

Doesn't thrill, like you think it will... Still.

Glinda is just as lonely as Elphaba.

Which might seem odd, because she always has a crowd of admirers behind her.

But notice how shes never a part of that crowd.

People raise her on a pedestal, quite literally so in multiple scenes

When she rides in on the cart at Shiz, when she speaks to the Ozians,

when she descends from the bubble.

She is 'higher than'. People bow to her when she holds out a supportive hand.

There lies the problem, because as she is put on a pedestal, nobody can treat her as an equal.

Nobody except Elphaba.

This isnt even me reading into things, its literally stated within the musical:

ELPHABA: You're the only friend, I ever had. GLINDA: And I've had so many friends.

GLINDA: But only one that mattered.

Againall of Glindas genuine character growth moments are played for laughs.

But theres so much to dig through.

How lonely they both are but find solace in each others company.

How that is represented in their final duet 'For Good' when they sing their own verse,

but they switch in key. Elphaba taking the soprano while Glinda takes the alto.

They come from opposite ends of the spectrum but end up right in the middle

wrapped in each others arms. Safe and content.

Isnt it perfect how Wicked crafted a story of two seemingly different people

but they unknowingly ended up being matched at every level?

Its one of the most beautifully poetic romance stories created in modern history.

[car horn honks]

Ding dong, youre wrong!

Because for some godawful reason Elphaba doesnt end up with the other person whose arc

is about finding a form of acceptance and an equal love.

She gets with this dude, randomly shoved into the plot thirty minutes in.

Everything that is established between Fiyero and Elphaba is more pronounced

and earlier established between Glinda and Elphaba.

For instance, their immediate dislike for one another is clearer executed between

Elphaba and Glinda.

The reconciliation scene is a million times better too, because Glinda actually understands

how badly she has been treating Elphaba and seeks forgiveness

knowing full well Elphaba has every right not to grant her that.

Within this scene, out of the two potential love interests, its not Fiyero

but Glinda who sees Elphaba in that moment.

FIYERO: Ill say this much for her, she doesnt give a twig what anybody else thinks.

GLINDA: Of course she does, she just pretends not to.

Fiyero only seems impressed by the walls Elphaba has put up to withstand all the mocking

but Glinda sees beyond her walls.

She sees a girl who is vulnerable and scared and not unlike herself.

Someone who for once just doesnt want to stand on her own.

What makes this scene so raw is that Glinda tries to communicate to Elphaba that shes on her side.

She takes Elphabas movement and makes the dance more fluid.

She puts a piece of her own vulnerability in there, because she too,

is desperate for a genuine connection.

And Elphaba picks up on that and forgives her by hesitantly joining in.

Put this in contrast to Elphaba and Fiyeros reconciliation scene.

They shout at each other a bunch until Fiyero is so fed up hes ready to walk away.

And Elphaba grabs his hand and then

[romantic, soft music plays]

This lazy ass music cue tells us that this is significant somehow.

That suddenly they caught feelings for each other, with literally no build-up whatsoever before this point.

God, this moment really riles me up for multiple reasons.

One, because its lazy writing that the main romance in your show

is dependable on a f*cking music cue.

It shows its not built up properly, not foreshadowed well enough

and will give later on in your show little reward when they do get together.

Secondly, this is the melody that carries into the song 'Im Not That Girl'which

I have plenty of problems with too.

But before Elphaba starts singing, there is one more thing that I want to highlight.

This touch right here.

FIYERO: Well, I better get to safety. I mean the cub. Get the cub to safety.

Sounds familiar?

Well, not yet but Ill explain it to you now.

It is the exact same music that is played the previous scene

when Glinda tells Elphaba shes beautiful.

[romantic & soft music, but lighter]

GLINDA: Look at you.

GLINDA: You're beautiful.

Ill play it one more time without the dialogue.

[lighter soft music, reminiscent of Glinda's character]

[opening notes of 'I'm Not That Girl' AKA the exact same melody but more somber]

Its the exact same melody!

Glinda got to say it first!

Glinda and Elphaba got the romantic music before it shows that Fiyero and Elphaba are "in love".

And three seconds later, Elphaba is all like:

ELPHABA: Hands touch. Eyes meet.

Sudden silence, sudden heat.

Well, the audience already knows what that is, right?

It was established earlier.

BOTH: Loathing! Unadulterated loathing!

But of course not, because when the girls sing about pulse rushing, head reeling

and faces flushing, its loathing.

But when the girl sings about a guy how her heart leaps in a giddy whirl,

Suddenly, it's no longer loathing, its a crush.

Listen, Wicked.

You cant have it both ways.

You cant describe the same feeling and give it two opposite names.

Its either loathing or its loving.

You cant swap feelings when its no longer convenient for you.

Because once again: everything that is established between Fiyero and Elphaba

is done earlier and better between Glinda and Elphaba.

This includes the magical f*cking hand touches!

Their first meeting? Hand touch.

Glinda's apology? Touch.

Their reconciliation? Hand touch.

Hand touch. Hand touch. Hug.

Hand touch.

Cowering behind your girlfriend.

Hand touch. Hug!

Hand. Touch.

The notable absence of the hand touch. [intense music dwindles down]

Not only is Glinda and Elphabas relationship far better established

it's also that Fiyero's personal character arc does not get the resolution that it

shouldve gotten, by ending up with Elphaba.

In his solo 'Dancing Through Life' we learn a lot about Fiyeros personality.

He is pretty aloof and is perceived by the surrounding characters as popular and cool.

After all, he doesnt care what school has to teach!

Hes just going with the flow and does what he wants!

But on closer inspection of his lyrics, it is clear how unhappy Fiyero is.

And Im not stupid okay, I know part of this is to mirror how he ends up as the brainless Scarecrow.

Several jokes throughout the show are made about this.

Despite all that, I think its worth pointing out how he considers actively repressing

your thoughts and feelings is an appropriate reaction:

FIYERO: Nothing matters! But knowing nothing matters, it's just life.

Life is fraughtless. When your thoughtless.

Only because dust is what we come too!

This dude is having an existential crisis!

And nobody around him is picking up on that.

Personally, I think theres even a strong case to be made that Fiyero is showing signs of depression.

And by trying to escape the dark, empty void unfolding within himself

he goes into reckless behavior in hopes of feeling something again.

That certainly would explain why he gets kicked out of so many schools,

and why Galinda comments on his 'scandalious' reputation.

But heres the catch: an existential crisis differs from loneliness.

By its definition, an existential crisis cannot be found in another person.

Existentialism is an individual question that needs to be solved within the self.

But thats not what Fiyero gets.

The musicals solution to his personal quest is having him fall in love with the

[annoying voice] slightly less pretty girl.

[normal voice] A trope that was so overdone even in the early 2000s.

Having him love someone is ridiculous, because this is clearly no problem for Fiyero!

Im sure even throughout all his edgy nihilist thought spirals, he had plenty of lovers

to pick and choose from.

(Wouldnt even be surprised if he used them as a distraction).

Fiyeros arc is so unlike Glinda and Elphabas, because loneliness and existentialism

are pretty much at odds.

They make a very toxic pairing, thats for sure. But they aren't the same.

A satisfying conclusion to Fiyeros character arc would have him find meaning in life,

a purpose to live, regardless whether actions are fundamentally meaningless or not.

If you want to have the three main characters to all have equally satisfying endings

to their individual arcs, Fiyero and Glinda need to switch places in the finale.

Let Fiyero sink his teeth into a nation who needs rebuilding and connect with a community

who has been ostracized for years but fought for a place in the world regardless.

Let him learn from the Animals.

Let him be the leader Oz needs.

As was canon, by the way, in the original story by L. Frank Baum.

Im not kidding, after Dorothy leaves the Scarecrow gets to lead Oz, not Glinda.

Meanwhile, Glinda and Elphaba need each others love, acceptance and connection

to combat the loneliness they have felt for so long.

They need to heal together in that relationship so they can both come out stronger.

Thats the ending the narrative has been building up to.

Not convinced yet?

I can give you plenty of more examples.

Rapid-fire style. Let's start with Elphaba's leitmotif.

The first time its prominent is in 'The Wizard and I' when Elphaba sings how her future is unlimited.

[hopeful music plays]

ELPHABA: Unlimited! My future is unlimited!

This leitmotif returns during 'Defying Gravity', but note how it doesnt play in Elphabas solo

but when Elphaba asks Glinda to come with her.

ELPHABA: Unlimited. Together we're... Unlimited!

Together we'll be the greatest team there's ever been, Glinda.

ELPHABA: Dreams the way we plan them. GLINDA: If we work in tandem.

BOTH: There's no fight we cannot win!

What first was Elphabas personal motif has now turned into a duet.

Her personal motivation has intertwined with wanting to stand together with Glinda.

As discussed before, this doesnt happen since Glinda cant do impulsive.

Then when they reunite in 'For Good' after a long and messy road, that same leitmotif returns once more.

In this moment Elphaba gives up on her dream and hands it over to Glinda.

ELPHABA: I'm limited. Just look at me. I'm limited.

And look at you, you can do all I couldn't do, Glinda.

The most heartbreaking part?

After Elphaba hands over the Grimmerie, that leitmotif becomes Glindas.

Its barely noticeable because chronologically it happens even before 'The Wizard and I'.

It plays right after 'No One Mourns the Wicked', and just before an Ozian can ask

Glinda about her relationship to Elphaba.

GLINDA: As you can imagine I have much to attend to. What with the Wizard's unexpected departure.

And so if there are no further questions... OZIAN: Glinda!

Is it true you were her friend?

In the second act, everybody greets Elphaba with hostility.

Nessarose tells her to get lost and she cant help her, Boq pulls a freaking knife on her.

Then theres the Wizard who grabs her broom, literally disarming her.

And not much later Fiyero storms in and draws his weapon.

Look at these two people in love!

ELPHABA: Fiyero, thank Oz! FIYERO: Silence, witch!

Surely then, if everybody treats Elphaba with hostility, then Glinda too must

GLINDA: Elphie?! Oh, no. Never mind.

GLINDA: Thank Oz you're alive!!

Glinda is the only person who reacts to Elphaba with kindness.

In her mind, Elphaba couldnt possibly be a danger.

Elphie is Elphie, and she never lost fate in her.

She isnt even pretending to hate her in front of the Wizard, like Fiyero.

She simply doesnt care. Only does some damage control later on.

But first things first, Elphaba needs a hug.

The first time Elphaba comes on stage in the second act, she... literally comes out of a closet.

I cant even make this shit up if I wanted to.

If I had written this any editor would give me feedback thatthis? Is a little on the nose.

Okay, last one, but this is a big one.

At a point in the musical both Glinda and Fiyero comment on Elphabas beauty.

Keep in mind that the musical portrays Elphaba as repulsive and undesirable,

while being played by the most gorgeous women youve ever laid your eyes on.

But more than anything, Elphaba believes these things about herself, as described in 'Im Not That Girl'

where she dismisses the idea that she could ever be a desirable romantic interest.

And Im guessing this is what Fiyero is trying to communicate when Elphaba wishes

[annoying voice] she could be beautiful for him.

UGH! [grunts of frustration]

But all that Fiyero comes up with is this:

FIYERO: It's not lying! It's looking at things another way.

Fiyero! I'm trying to root for you!

But youre making it impossible when you say shit like that!

This is the best you can come up with after you fuck the girl you pined over for years

in the dirty ground of the woods? Come on, man!

I get what hes trying to convey, but it sounds awful!

Its like hes saying: Gosh Elphaba, you aint exactly my ideal of beauty,

but if I squeeze my left eye and look at you from an angle, its not so bad!

[grumbles] Christ.

I hate this stupid f*cking side plot, its so early 2000s mediocracy.


Now lets rewind all the way back to Popular and see the difference in Glindas approach.

Remember that all Glinda is familiar with are the formalities and superficiality of social connections.

Therefore, the only way she knows how to receive love from others is by adhering to social norms,

like with beauty conventions.

I believe this is the reason Glinda makes over Elphaba.

Because she wants Elphaba to receive that love from others.

Is it nave? Absolutely!

But its also genuine.

Whats so precious about this moment is that after the very minor transformation Elphaba goes through

Glinda has this moment where she stops.

Its here that she realizes that Elphaba is beautiful.

And it isnt because she put a flower in her hair or removed her glasses.

Whether Elphaba believes it or not, is not the point.

Glinda realizes that if Elphaba is beautiful now, it means she was beautiful all along.

Glinda actress Katie Rose Clarke confirmed as much when asked on the Fly Girl vlogs

what her favorite line was. And this is what she said:

KATIE: I think my favorite is any of moment in 'Popular' where I tell her she's beautiful for the first time.

KATIE: And I see it for the first time.

This is the major difference between Glinda and Fiyero.

Glinda gets to grow while Fiyero stays stagnant.

Glinda learns to see past the beauty conventions she grew up with and sees true beauty in Elphaba.

Fiyero? Has to look another way.

*This* is the main romance were supposed to be rooting for?!

For f*cks sake, Fiyero, your romantic partner is vulnerable. Show you appreciate her!

Rhapsodize about the uniqueness of her glowing emerald skin, how passionate her eyes gaze

upon the world. How her dedication and empathy shine through even after all the crap shes gone through.

And what could possibly be more beautiful than that?

[restrained] Something romantic youre supposed to be in love!

I tried to accept this romance, but I physically cant!

I-I cant do it!

Not when there is another protagonist whose cathartic closure of their character arc

fits seamlessly with the main protagonist.

Not when the story built up a different relationship between two women but quickly

shoe-horned in a man to try and diffuse the tension it had been building up so far.

Not when everything that was established between the hetero romance, was previously

and far better established by the gay romance.

Not when every single beat. Every line. Every little detail is meant to hint at a romance

between Glinda and Elphaba, and it is left in the f*cking dust.

Wicked is gay.

As much as it wants to deny it, the text itself doesnt lie.

I argued exactly why it should be Glinda and Elphaba who end up together,

but the musical refuses, like a child refusing to eat their vegetables.

And Im so sick and tired of having to defend this position over and over again, because

I know what Im seeing.

People love to point at subtext and call gay people delusional,

but I have poured over this musical for over four years now and I know every detail,

every heart beat, and there's no changing my mind.

Wicked is gay.

And its about damn time they owned up to that fact.

[piano music fades]

Lets take a step back from the musical and look at the broader context

in which Wicked is represented.

Because through the metaphorical adaption forest its hard to see the original roots,

which all started 120 years ago in 1900.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was a book written by L. Frank Baum and it is interesting to see

how over the years the source material got influenced by its adaptations.

Most notably, MGMs movie 'The Wizard of Oz' released in1939.

For instance, the movie spends the first 20 minutes of its runtime in Kansas.

Introducing all the characters that will reappear in Oz.

Meanwhile, the book takes about five pages before Dorothy is in Oz.

Only described aunt Em and uncle Henry and the farm and then the cyclone hits.

This is perhaps the biggest change from the book, because it completely reframes the story.

Suddenly, Dorothys trip to Oz is a lengthy dream sequence and not a magical adventure.

This was done on purpose by the writers, as at the time fantasy films hadnt done well.

Thus the magical elements of Oz got firmly placed in realism.

This means the Kansan counterparts are all deliberately paralleled with their Ozian parts.

The three farmhands are friendly and her allies as the Tinman, the Cowardly Lion and the Scarecrow.

While Miss Gulch transforms into the Wicked Witch of the West.

And Professor Marvel becomes The Wizard of Oz.

I want to highlight these two in particular and contextualize them,

because I cant help but cast a suspicious eye at how these two villains are portrayed.

Lets not forget it was 1939 and Nazi propaganda was in full swing and had been for nearly a decade.

The US might have been on another continent,

but with the increasing influx of requests for visas to the United Statesthe majority of which got waitlisted

there is no denying what is happening in Europe.

With that in mindlets start with the Wizard of Oz.

In the book, the Wizard is just a fraudulent man who tricked an entire society

into giving him reigning power.

But because of the movies framework, he is also Professor Marvel, a uhm...

God how to put thisa deceitful but ultimately harmless fortuneteller

whose cart is a vomit of Oriental objects.

And I do mean Oriental because none of these objects make any coherent sense in any one culture

but it does make sense in the Oriental framework, also known as the false perception

of what Western-Europeans caricatured Middle Eastern and Asian culture and people to be.

All of this is wrapped up in the travelling and lying fortuneteller

which is a centuries old depiction of Romani people.

So instead of a deceitful individual, like in the book, due to link between the Professor

and the Wizard, he is now coded as an entire ethnic group.

Which, let me remind you, is in a time period where the Nazis are about to start an ethnic genocide

that killed somewhere between 200.000 to 500.000 Roma and Sinti.

And if youre hoping that the Wicked Witch is somehow not coded as a group that was part of the Holocaust.

I am very sorry for what I have to tell you next.

The way the Wicked Witch of the West looks is absolutely iconic!

Remember her green skin?

Yeah, she isnt even green in the original book.

In the book she isnt really described as anything except old and wicked

and only having one eye.

Therefore, most of the features we associate with the Wicked Witch come from the movie.

The physical features of the Wicked Witch of the West

are a bit of a mesh of Jewish caricatures and witch imagery.

Theres obviously the broom and the pointy hat, which is pretty harmless.

The wraths on her face is a Jewish stereotype but is also pretty popular among witch imagery.

You got the frizzy black hair and exaggerated hooknose which is definitely a Jewish stereotype

and a perpetuate one at that.

In the back of my mind I also thought the green skin was somehow linked to Jewish caricatures,

presumably by a mistranslation of the olive skin,

but while doing research on this video I couldnt find any decisive sources on that.

I did find a poster of an extremely antisemitic 1940s Nazi propaganda film called Jud Sss

which I will spare you the plot of because holy mother of forks.

And the resemblance to the Wicked Witch of the West is pretty uncanny.

Anyway, because of a lack of sources the most I can say about the green skin

is that it is meant to be very alienating and distancing.

Theres a reason why popular images of aliens are green, because theyre alien.

And its exactly this separation of the Self and the Other that is happening with

the Wicked Witch too.

I bring this up because the way villains get portrayed in fictional media

is very often a mirror of our own society.

We vilify the ones society sees as a nuisance.

Most of the time its not even a conscience decision.

For example, how Disney has a bad habit of queercoding its villains.

RALPH: See you're a fan of pink...

KING CANDY [with lisp]: Salmon! Salmon. That's obviously salmon!

Therefore, I dont necessarily want to accuse the now completely deceased creative team

behind The Wizard of Oz of antisemitism and xenophobia.

Although if you want to put things in perspective look no further than the director Victor Fleming,

who also directed Gone With The Wind.

All is to say, it is important to stand still at the implications of these coded characters.

And its good to be aware of it too, because the lack of awareness by a film itself

tells a lot about a society and how little effort there is being made by the majority

to be inclusive of a minority.

On a scale from harmless to genocidal, coding your villains is obviously not the worst sentence.

But coding is usually a side effect of a large societal and cultural issue

and thats why its so important to be aware and skeptical of it when you encounter it.

Because lets be real, it is pretty tone-deaf to code your villains like that.

Its kind of like if a film got made in 2020 about a white cop who firmly believes

a black man needs to be put to justice and is lacking evidence

but in the end manages to put him in jail.

You should raise your eyebrows at that, because its incredibly tone-deaf to the situation at hand.

And if you think I exaggerate I want you to reflect on why you think pointing this out

feels like an exaggeration to you.

Although I do admit at one point I went a little crazy...

AUNT EM: How would it be if she'd keep him tied up. He's really gentle! With gentle people that is.

[mysterious music plays] [slow, mishearing]: with gentile people

[slower, mishearing]: gentile...

In contrast to The Wizard of Oz, the main appeal of Wicked is that it explores the villain

of an immensely popular story and tries to show how she became the villain in the first place.

But again, the difference between the book and its adaptation is poignant.

This time it has a little less to do with xenophobia and a lot more with ignoring its queer text.

In an article written by Gregory Maguire himself he said: I knew that I wanted to make

gay affection and even sex a legitimate, if minority, reality in Oz.

And since the majority of queerness in literature is spread around in miniscule breadcrumbs,

we queer folk have become particularly good at tracing down every little crumb

as if it were a whole goddamn buffet.

While the queerness in the book is not particularly upfront it isnt necessarily hiding either.

The book starts with a husband and a wife expecting a son,

which seems like the picturesque conservatist dream.

But that is quickly thrown out of the window.

While the musical portrays the affair Melena and the Wizard have as consensual,

the book actually has him roofie her with the magic green elixir and then raaa

Oh. I didn't mention that this book is f*cked up?

Well, I am so sorry but Im about to further scrub away your innocence, dear.

Melena is also wrong about the gender of her child, though after she gives birth

there's a disagreement between the midwives and they inspect whether Elphaba has a penis or not.

Then when Elphaba is a toddler this traveler comes along named Turtle Heart.

And Melena, who by the way is described as being very promiscuous, instantly has an affair with him.

Which her husband Frexspar doesnt even seem to mind because, being the cuck that he is,

is also completely enamored with Turtle Heart.

The three of them have this polyamorous relationship for a while and its basically the happiest

all of them are until Turtle Heart gets murdered.

Fun fact, the musical makes it seem like Nessarose isnt born out of wedlock

but in the book she actually has a skin color similar to Turtle Hearts, so she isnt even Frexs seed either.

Even more interesting is that after Turtle Heart's death, Frexspar and Melena have a third child.

The son Melena always wanted, who has no deformities like his sisters

and is named Shell, after Turtle Heart.

But Frex still prefers Nessarose, partly because she is the lovechild of him and his wife

and Turtle Heart.

Yeah, they ignored that in the musical...

Anyway, theres a time skip to when they go to university and there are two male side side character.

named Crope and Tibbett who are in a relationship.

One of them, Tibbett, actually contracts an unmentioned disease that is a not-so-subtle

reference to AIDS after they go the Philosophy Club and....

[overlapping haunted dialogue]

...and thats the end of the sentence!

Tibbett slowly dies and in his final year actually gets taken care of in the monastery by Elphaba.

Oh, yeah Elphaba is in a monastery for years after Fiyero gets murdered by the Gale Force.

She also gave birth to their son while in a coma.

Which I looked up and can happen, but this is not the first and most certainly not the last time

that Maguire has shown zero knowledge on how boobs and wombs work.

At least compared to all the other misogynistic writers

he has the halfway decent excuse of being a gay man.

But yeah, Fiyero and Elphaba do have a relationship together.

So its not as if the musical grabbed that out of thin air.

Of course, Fiyero is explicitly written as a man of color

and very much looked upon as an outsider because of his skin color.

Hes the only student from the Vinkus and he is married when he has an affair with Elphaba,

which is brief and very sexual, and nobody will be surprised to hear it wasnt my cup of tea.

One thing of note though is how Fiyero at one point notices a scar on Elphabas crotch

and how she never wanted to be touched below the waist by his hands,

which sounds to my non-binary ears as gender dysphoria.

Later on, there is another quote that definitely supports this reading

of Elphaba as non-binary and intersex.

It goes: She thought about hot anger and cold anger, and if it divided by the sexes,

and which she felt, if either, if ever.

She had always felt as capable of hot anger as any man.

But to be successful, one would need access to both sorts.

This is kind of how you have to pick up and piece together most of the story, honestly.

Theres a lot of time-jumps and Maguire just steamrolls through most of the plot.

The quote I read at the beginning of this video is one of several quotes gelphie shippers

like the bring up and cry about.

Another big one is how Glinda is in a loveless marriage solely for the title to preserve

some sort of relevancy in aristocratic society and mentions how she never took up dalliances.

But then a few sentences later she goes: For when she chose to remember her youth at all

she could scarcely dredge up an ounce of recollection about that daring meeting with the Wizard.

She could recall far more clearly how she and Elphie had shared a bed on the road to the Emerald City.

How brave that had made her feel, and how vulnerable too.

What kind of repressed gay pining did I just read?

There is no question in my mind that Glinda is in love with Elphaba.

Vice versa is a bit more difficult to proof as the book barely narrates Elphabas point of view.

But there are plenty of instances that could be interpreted as the feeling being mutual.

As for what Maguire has to say on the relationship between Glinda and Elphaba,

it seems to be a combination of: I follow the rules of the death of the author

therefore the text is up to the readers interpretation and I dont kiss and tell.

But he did admit of at the least the suggestion of a romance, he says:

The musical stepped even more steeply back from the hint of romantic attraction

between the leads. With the effect, some feel, of heightening the possibility of what remains unsaid.

And boy howdy, does the musical feel no shame to exploit the unspoken.

It all starts with the first ever poster made with Glinda whispering in Elphabas ear,

who showcases the most goddamn bisexual smirk Ive ever seen.

Then of course there need to be press shots of every cast change, which most likely has

them staring at each other intently, which one of my friends brilliantly described as:

the inherent homoeroticism of meeting your sworn rival in an isolated cornfield.

Or they are beyond rivalry and are just hugging each other.

And then theres this press shot that for some reason strongly reminds me of

an old photograph of my grandparents wedding.

But they really become unashamed on social media when it is pride month.

Every year they seem to be a bit more daring.

In 2016 it was this simple post.

In 2017 there is that homoerotic poster once again, this time with the pride flag as a backdrop.

Then in 2018 they really start to be more open about it and used photoshopped press shots

of then Broadway Elphaba and Glinda, Jackie Burns and Amanda Jane Cooper.

Some of these posters even made it on the streets of New York by the way.

And most blatant of all. In 2019 they sold Friend of Elphaba t-shirts during pride month.

A reference to the friend of Dorothy phrase which dates back to at least the Second World War

when gay men used it to identify themselves to each other.

Well, one things for sure, the PR people of Wicked sure know their gay audience.

Who knows what they wouldve done this year if the coronavirus hadnt struck.

Then again, they will never go as far as validating the gelphie shippers,

because that would mean reevaluating their own product.

After all, it is still a brand and brands are not your friends.

For example, theres this picture they posted for last years International Womens Day.

And they stupidly had them hold a white board. Which is just asking for memes!

Anyhow, I decided to combine this image with the Pride photo-op they did

but use the non-binary and trans flag.

And while I love the image I created; it upsets me to think how a sentence as basic as:

"Trans rights are humans rights will never be uttered by the official accounts.

Itll be something vague and non-threatening as when we defy hate we defy gravity.

Or at Wicked you can always be who you truly are. Without making an actual statement.

This is what happens when a musical about social justice is spoken solely in metaphors.

This has always rubbed me the wrong way because the musical goes out of its way to spread

a message that being different is admirable, even if the entirety of society is against you.

Something a lot of queer folk can relate too.

But subtext excluded it has zero LGBT+ characters.

Not to mention its treatment of their present minorities is absolutely wack.

For example, how Nessaroses defining trait is that shes in love with Boq.

But considers herself inferior simply because shes in a wheelchair.

NESSA: All of my life I've depended on you. And this hideous chair with wheels!

Because I'm in this chair. And you felt sorry for me.

NESSA: No! He's the one. It's me that's not right.

And not to say that the books portrayal isnt a hot pile of garbage

but at least Nessa has a lot more going for her.

She is deeply religious which is in polar opposition of her sister Elphaba.

And instead of having weak legs she actually is born without arms.

So, her disability doesnt have anything to do with the rest of her personality.

Of course, it is mentioned that she is always accompanied by Nanny who has to stabilize her.

Because according to Gregory Maguire, people without arms cant f*cking walk on their own.

How come that the role of Nessarose is so physically demanding

that someone in wheelchair could never portray the role?

Yes, I know wheelchair users can walk for small periods of time

but can they fall down and get up eight times a week, for a 10-month contract?

What about days their body just refuses?

How come this is the only principal role in a popular Broadway show that has a person

using a wheelchair, and it isnt even accessible to the people it is supposed to represent!

How come Fiyero, canonically a man of color, is portrayed by this sea of f*cking white boys?

How come that the most radical sentence on race in the entire musical is this pathetic joke:

DR. DILLAMOND: How our dear Oz is becoming less and less, well colorful.

Even within context this obviously is a reference to people of color

and the discrimination they face till this day.

But it is nauseating when these injustices are only spoken of in metaphors in relation

to a green girl and a humanoid goat.

Like, I always wondered how black people in the ensemble felt the moment Dr. Dillamond says:

DR DILLAMOND: The token Goat as it were.

Because uhhhmthere was definitely some tokenism in productions.

And before youre going to the comments down below and list off all Fiyeros of color

that can be counted on a single hand. Let me just help you out, alright?

As far as Im aware in nearly 17 years, there have only been three principal Fiyeros of color on Broadway.

The first one was Taye Diggs in 2003. A... bald man playing a college student.

Then there's is Derrick Williams, the only good Fiyero, who played the role for several years

largerly opposite of Wicked royalty: Megan Hilty and Eden Espinosa.

And then in 2014 theres Justin Guarini, who Ive literally never heard of

until I did research for this video. And havent even seen a single 'legboot' of floating around,

despite him being in the role for 10 months.

But you know, in 2014 the Ukrainians started a revolution. And the Black Lives Matter movement

fully gained its ground after the murder of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

And the rest of us Eurotrashincluding myself yelled gay rights

as drag queen Conchita Wurst won the Eurovision Songcontest that year.

So I guess we were all just too busy in 2014 to sit and record an overcrowded theater, werent we?

What is especially infuriating about this lack of change is that the medium of theater

is in a very special position that no other fictional medium has.

Which is the component of the live element.

By definition the medium is flexible.

A book or a movie or even a scripted television show is always produced in the past

and gets released in a single point of time.

But theater is different. As the same production gets performed for a different audience every single evening.

And while generally not much changes over time, this does not mean that the context

in which it is presented is unchanged.

Because when Wicked opened in 2003, the world looked a whole lot different from how it does in 2020.

Social movements like Black Lives Matter, the #MeToo movement, and yes, even big events

like the legislation of equal marriage in many countries since 2003, including the United States

will play a factor in the media we consume.

The discussion I want to present is within this context of social justice for minorities.

And make no mistake: Wicked is a musical about social justice.

With the push for inclusion and diversity in media, we start to see two growing trends within theater.

The first trend is to specifically highlight stories of or by people of color, whether historic or fictional.

The Color Purple and In the Heights are good musical examples of this.

The second trend is something we see much more of:

its a revision of predominately white stories but people of color get casted in those roles.

Recent examples are Hamilton and Six. Both of which are about white historic events

but have very contemporary soundtracks and raise a healthy middle finger to historical accuracy.

Were not going to wear wigs, because thats dumb! Says Lin-Manuel Miranda. And right he is.

Though to be fair, if theres one medium where you can get away with muddling accuracy, its theater.

The audience is already asked to imagine complete sceneries with sometimes as little as a prop.

Look, a table with shot glasses! This means were in a bar.

Are we staring off into the distance with a letter in our hands?

This must mean we are on different continents and writing each other while telling important

emotional and/or narrative plot points!

Thats why a black founding father is not weird in a theater, because the audience is

aware its not actual George Washington standing in front of them.

Its pretense. And the audience can accept the suspension of disbelief better on stage than on screen.

In the revisionist category we also see a lot of revivals getting updated to quote unquote modern standards.

Because having a completely white cast... Is a bit frowned upon.

It's... a bit tacky.

So, we get a revival of Carousel and Oklahoma! but this time not all actors are white.

And Ive not seen either of them, revived or not, so I cant say much more about it

then this is a thing thats happening.

To be clear, I dont want to pit these categories against each other and make an argument

that the one with the most cons is problematic and bad

and should never have existed in first place.

Framing things as problematic Ive found not to be very helpful or productive.

I believe both categories can have convincing arguments in either their strength or weakness.

Wicked as it is currently staged, falls somewhat in the revisionist category

mostly on par with the revivals section.

They have become a bit better with casting diverse voices in their principal roles over the years.

But the story itself has stayed the same, subtext included.

The first big name that falls under this diversity casting was in 2016

when it was that Sheryl Lee Ralph would be the first black woman portraying Madame Morrible!

on Broadway.

Because there was a black Madame Morrible before, Myra Lucretia Taylor from 2008 till 2009.

But you know, that was on tour. Its not as prestige as Broadway, not as revolutionary.

Playbill cant make headlines with a touring company. God forbid!

But what I personally find most interesting is that Sheryl Lee Ralph started the role on November 1, 2016.

Seven days before he-whomst-we-dont-name got elected president of the United States.

While the majority of her vlogs are the typical goofs and gags

you can expect from these actor vlogs, the little interviews she does with the cast

does reveal a desire for inclusivity and unity.

KARA: Especially with the recent events our story is so important right now.

JENNY: This is such a gorgeous story. And it needs to be toldstilltill today.

SHERYL: What do you think it is? JENNY: Acceptance and love.

KARA: It's so important to be telling this story about love right now.

MICHAEL: Got the 10 o'clock in the morning by the time I got in it was like 4:30 in the afternoon.

And when I got in 32 bars had dwindled down to only one of eight bars.

So I got in, Michael Peters didn't look up. He said: "Thank you."

And I said: "Uh. WHAT?"

And I walked over to their table and leaned over and said:

Now you understand, brother. Y'all just saw me two weeks ago out in LA.

Said you 'loooved' me, I don't hear nothing. I've spend 537 dollars of my own money.

"Thank you" ain't gonna make it.

Michael Peters says: Alright. Come back tomorrow and come see Michael Bennett.

At 10 o'clock in the morning. And from then I had like eight callbacks with Michael Bennett.

They held me off for six months. And they ended up giving it to David Alan Grier,

who already had been understudying. SHERYL: There you go.

MICHAEL: So by that time I was too broke to go back to LA.

[both laugh]

And I took a job at a hotel. The first black performer at this historically racist hotel in Ocean City Maryland.

I was the first black entertainer they ever hired.

SHERYL: Now, when we talk about diversity. You represent full diversity!

ZACHARY: I do! I do, my mom is Chinese. My dad is a white Jew from Indiana with Lithuanian roots.

So I'm a Jewish-Asian. I think the first Chinese Boq to play Boq fulltime on Broadway.

And yeah, it's definitely a diverse cast.

We were talking about this that I think this is the most colorful the principal cast has been on Broadway!

SAM: And guess what? Diversifying your cast helps!

The glamor and venom that Sheryl Lee Ralph brings to the role is incredible to watch

and it's probably my favorite Morrible performance out there.

Because Sheryl Lee shines such a different light on her simply because she is a black woman.

This is once again reiterated with currentuhm corona hiatus excludedMadame Morrible on Broadway

played by Alexandra Billings. A mixed race trans woman who openly talks about her HIV positive status

and the difficult life she had as a sex worker and a former drug addict.

ALEXANDRA: And we all kept saying, all of the trans people kept saying:

"We've been in the military, since there was the military!"

Just because we haven't been out, doesn't mean that we haven't existed.

We didn't pop up in the 70s! Being trans wasn't an idea somebody had because they did too much cocaine.

That's not what happened!

SAM: Seriously. She's a gem.

In an interview with Playbill she doesnt pull any punches either, saying:

I couldnt care less about their history.

Trans or not, if Im playing the role, its going to be trans, because Im trans.

Times change and humanity changes.

What weve learned is that art is the reflection of the human experience.

And by casting a trans woman as Madame Morrible instead of a cis person

the role inevitable gets a different interpretation, simple because a trans woman

will have different life experiences from a cis woman.

For instance, Alexandra makes a really interesting observation that even I

a non-binary trans person obsessed with Wicked never even thought of. She says:

A hero is never a pure hero unless there are villainous attributes.

We are born out of a chaotic universe, which is full of darkness and light.

Elphaba and Glinda are both of those things.

Madame Morrible is certainly both of those things.

My whole life has been about survival and trying to be seen in a world that does

not acknowledge my existence.

For me, thats true of Morrible.

She has risen in a way no other otherized human has, and she recognizes Elphaba

from the beginning: Theres something in this human I need to tap into so that we can survive.

And this is exactly the kind of fresh eyes a musical needs, especially after sixteen years.

If the role keeps being portrayed by the same type of person

the role will be interpreted the same way and become stale.

This is how you kill a production, or at least a character within a production.

[cheerful] Oh hi, boys.

If the script cant be flipped, at least toss it around every once in a while!

Characters that are portrayed for sixteen years day after day need to breathe.

This is the one advantage theatre has over all other scripted media.

It has the opportunity to reinvent itself, basically every night, if it wishes to do so.

I also cant finish this section without at least mentioning

current Broadway Glinda standby Brittney Johnson.

Who is the first black Glinda on Broadway and should by all means be the next in line for the Glinda principal.

Going from standby to principal is the most common trajectory for Glindas and Elphabas, by the way.

And while she didnt mention this in relation to Wicked, I do want to highlight what Brittney has said

just after the recent wave of protests after the murder of George Floyd.

On her Instagram she writes: Im tired of holding my tongue and filtering my blackness

to pacify white fragility on a daily basis.

Im tired of having to double think before I speak so that my passion is not mislabeled

as angry or threatening.

Im tired of having to be twice as good to work in jobs that I am overqualified for.

Im tired of laughing off racist comments you think are fine to say because

I know youre not a racist.

Im tired that I have been the representative for my entire race in classrooms, jobs,

and public spaces for my ENTIRE life because there was no one else who looked like me.

Definitely read the whole post. I left a link in the description.

This is sort of unrelated, but I do want you to know that she signed off this post as

'Brittney the Black'. Like an absolute queen.

She also made a specific post addressing the racism on Broadway she has experienced

and should be read in full. Link also in the description.

I do want to emphasize that Im not going to criticize actors of color

for being part of revivals who finally got the decency to not exclusively cast white actors.

I dont think theyre bootlickers or hypocrites for criticizing a system theyre inevitably a part of.

I dont think they should be grateful for the opportunity given to them because lord knows

they worked five times as hard to get where they are than any white person had to.

Who I am going to criticize are the creative teams, the Broadway industry and its funders.

Far too often creative teams are still predominately white, which leads to white stories in theaters.

And while I credited Wicked before that they have been more diverse in their casting

it does not go unnoticed that they are more than willing to flaunt their inclusivity

in front of our noses, without systemic change.

It feels kind of like a newer form of tokenismor 'showkenism' as Ive now decided to call it.

Which is a willingness to show off their minorities in principal roles as long as they can make

social media posts about how woke they are and have a ton of articles written

about how inclusive and diverse they are.

Just so they can keep their show relevant in the press and keep getting butts in the seats.

And againIm not going to condemn these actors for taking these roles.

Because these ceilings need to be broken and should have been broken a long time ago.

But I cant help but keep a skeptical eye on the Broadway companies and wonder:

As soon as these casting choices stop making headlines, will they stop casting minorities?

After all, there can only be one first black Madame Morrible on Broadway,

or one first trans Madame Morrible.

A second black or trans person in the same role is not going to make the same kind of headlines.

The ceiling is already broken, right?

That means its no longer trendy and newsworthy.

If its no longer a good economic investment to cast minorities

Will we be set to the sidelines once again?

Im afraid we will.

At least until there is systematic change in the theater industry.

And this topic honestly deserves a video on its own, but to illustrate what I mean

let's take a look at Hamilton. That was created by a guy of Puerto Rican descent,

has an majority principal cast of color

and is accessible to all people with a starting ticketing price 49...

[music stops]



Jesus f*cking Christ that is the cheapest seat!

The. Cheapest. Seat!

Let that sink in for a moment.

Thats equal to a months worth of groceries for me.

Broadway has the f*cking audacity to start its pricing for a single seat

that could properly feed a homeless person for a month.

At those prices it doesnt even matter that the principal cast is filled by people of color

or the kind of inclusive message Lin-Manuel Miranda tried to push with his musical.

Because Broadway created a show about historic white people, portrayed by people of color,

who now have to perform for mostly rich white audiences, simply based on the fact

that most working-class families cannot muster up the money to see a show that starts its pricing

at one hundred and forty-f*cking-nine dollars.

Broadway and the theater industry need to do better.

But Im just a single European yelling into a microphone to an audience of one.

Go support We See You White American Theatre, a statement signed by 300 BIPOC performers

and theatermakers.

Follow those creators and help them make a difference in their industry.

If the petition is still going on, I also recommend signing itlink down below.

Real change happens only when we hold the people above us accountable and demand

to have our voices not only be heard but installed in those positions of power.

And no, I will no longer accept any apologetic excuses that productions who are still running

simply cannot change, because what about the consistency?

What about the brand?

Well, f*ck your brand if it refuses to incorporate the message it spreads.

If they can cut this awful line:

FIYERO: Who in Oz is that?

GALINDA: My roommate!

GALINDA: Please, don't stare.

FIYERO: Well how can you help it?

Three years into the show.

If they can make script changes after a three-year run.

A time period most Broadway shows dont even have because they get closed before this point.

Then whats stopping them from polishing it some more?

Also, they still did this f*cking dance in 2006.


[distorted music] And you honestly haven't stared directly into the abyss

until youve seen thirty seconds of the Wizard and Elphaba dancing together, played dead-straight.

Yeah, thank god they changed that too.

Wait, where was I?

Oh right!

Theatrical Revolution!!

[revolutionary communist anthem]

I want to go back to what Kara Lindsay said:

KARA: It's so important for us to be telling this story about love right now.

Because while I dont disagree with her, by now I hope to have made my argument clear

that Wicked has far more potential to making a much deeper statement.

Im not interested in a story about metaphors about racism or homophobia.

I want Wicked to practice what it preaches.

And because its message is already so imbedded in the story, its surprisingly easy

to create a completely different story with very few changes.

I first discovered this in 2017when I created a series of gif sets on Tumblr called 'Wickedly Queer'.

That changed the dialogue of Wicked to make it explicitly queer.

I managed to make a completely different story in just 36 posts.

By not overthrowing the entire plot and try to adjust it

some unfortunate plot elements will stick.

For instance, I found it hard to adjust Nessaroses arc, but made sure to get rid of her dialogue

where she expresses her supposed inferiority because shes in a wheelchair.

This series proved to me is how easily the musical can be tweaked to make its message

intertwine with its actions.

Very immediate changes that have barely any influence on the narrative are:

Making Fiyero an exclusive role for men of color.

Im done with the sea of white boys.

Weve had more than enough of our fill.

Fiyero is canonically a man of color.

This needs to be honored.

Stop having Nessarose say she isnt right because she has a disability.

Its an awful line and we can do without it.

Furthermore, I dont want minorities to just portray the female villain of the show

or be a standby for a principal role.

You want a message about social justice?

Good. Practice what you preach.

More of that. Much, much more of that.

These are the minimum requirements I can think of that even the most conservative funder could agree on.

But even these tiny changes could make a huge difference for anyone in the audience.

And for those who are into a little more of a revolution but know Wicked is too deep

into big funders to ever do anything about it, do I get a nice surprise for you.

Because one thing haters love to throw at you is the argument to:

[annoying voice]: Leave it alone! Just make your own story if you want gay people in it!

Well, be careful what you wish for, haters. Because Im doing just that.

Last October, while I was working on the first draft of this script, I suddenly came up with

the idea of creating Wickedly Queer.

But this time it wouldnt be executed through gifs, but through animation.

Ive got a couple of people on board who voice the characters.

(By the way if you can sing and have a decent mic, I have ensemble songs Id like to include.

More information in the description).

I finished the script and done the sound design of the first act.

All I got to do now is finish the animation, which unfortunately takes a massive amount of time.

Im talking several hours for a ten second clip kind of time.

This is hundreds of hours of unpaid labor, which I obviously wouldnt be doing

if I wasnt absolutely in love with Wicked and this project.

Im making this version for me as well as anyone who feels Wicked should lift its subtext into text.

And if Wicked isnt going to give it to me, you bet your ass Im going to make it myself.

I hope to finish the first act of this project this year, but I obviously dont know what else will come on my path.

I do know that I will finish this project, no matter what it takes.

Because I want this story to exist.

I want a version of Wicked that is unashamedly queer.

I want it to be accessible and I want it to be for the community, by the community.

If big theater companies are too stubborn and refuse to flip the script, well do it for them.

So you better start listening and take notes, Broadway.

Because we are coming for you!

[inspirational music swells]

[bloopers] The way the Wicked Witch of the West bluublbl

This must mean we are on different conti [loud clattering]

I hate living next to a trash can.

I'm panic sweating. I can taste it in my mouth.

THEORETICAL REVO Theoretical...? [laughs]

Both of those things. Jesus Christ. Both of those ththththththth THUH!

Someone is putting something in the trash again [clattering]

The trash again. The trash again! [more clattering]

Somebody is putting in the trash again. Oh wait! It's me!

The Description of Wicked is Gay (and here's why)