Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Wicked Awesome

Over spring break I didn't have a lot of time to watch t.v. and movies, but I did get the opportunity to see three awesome musicals in New York City: Wicked, Guys and Dolls, and Avenue Q. I've read the novel that the musical was based on, but this past week was my first chance to see Wicked in musical form. It was pretty different from the book, but the main character Elphaba (also known as the Wicked Witch of the West) was much the same in both mediums and was, as always, very cool. Elphaba is kind of an outcast her entire life, not only because she is different on the outside but because she has a not so conventional personality as well. She accompanies her favored younger sister to University, where she finds her calling in life and learns that what makes her different also defines her purpose.

In a strange way, Elphaba's type of cool sort of reminded me of Shaft. Both characters have a take-no-crap kind of attitude and both couldn't care less what other people think of what they do. Shaft and Elphaba also both have a gentler side, though, and have certain groups that they feel a need and duty to protect. Elphaba can be snarky and prickly and a bit unpleasant, but she is also fiercely loyal to her friends and causes she wishes to uphold. Later in the show, she is also publicly demonized as being "wicked" because she chooses to go against the grain, but she still has an in with the wizard who rules Oz and her friend Glinda, the powerful and popular Good Witch of the North. Shaft is the same in that he too has a duality of his nature: he works with the law establishment to fight crime, but at the same time he teams up with street gangs and other criminals to get his job done. Like Shaft, Elphaba will also do whatever it takes to get her job done.

Shaft can also be compared to another character who is snarky and prickly and a bit unpleasant, and maybe even a little bit wicked. Yes, Dr. Gregory House is all of those things, but if I had a practically undiagnosable ailment with horrible symptoms, he is certainly the doctor I would want on call. House takes Shaft's confidence and pay-the-world-no-mind attitude through the roof and although it drives everyone around him crazy, it gets the job done. Like Shaft, House fosters few personal relationships and seems to live almost solely for his work. The interesting thing about House, though, is that although his character is cool on t.v., he is probably not someone you would want to interact with on a day-to-day basis. I often wonder if House would be cool in real life, especially if he were someone I had to see every day, and I think that Shaft would fit under the same category. These types of characters just go to show that you can be kind of a jerk as long as you make up for it by being completely awesome.


  1. I saw Wicked in St. Louis (*virtual high-five*), and I agree with your statement about the character of Elphaba in comparison to Shaft. And the ever-present House has found another way to enter our discourse! It's pretty hilarious to think of him in comparison to Shaft.

    Good entry!

  2. I think your comparison to House is great! I agree, I wouldn't want to interact with any of them in real life. Is there someone you can think of in real life who might be the epitome of house and shaft? Someone who really could be a jerk, but seems to be fighting for the right cause, even if selfishly?