Every so often there comes along something so extraordinary that hits me on such a personal level that I can’t stop obsessing over it. Currently that’s Todrick Hall’s musical Straight Outta Oz. First of all, I want to say I can’t connect to everything mentioned in the 57 minute musical film. I’m straight and I’m from Britain, but that’s what makes it so wonderful. Although I can connect on a level of being feminine and told to act more masculine as a child, and on occasion had struggles with my mixed race, I can’t connect on other levels. Yet it doesn’t matter. Straight Outta Oz has a quality to it that spills a personal story from Todrick, but that hits everyone equally as hard. The honesty and sincerity to this idea of equality, of love and above all else of being yourself is universal. So let me say a little more about my love for the film.
One thing that has bothered me in recent times is that peoples anger and passion for certain subjects hasn’t been shouted from the roof as much as it should be. If you have a voice, then use it. Todrick used his creativity, and talent to turn his emotions and life into … well into a piece of art. He made something that has pushed film, music and even the YouTube platform to such a higher standard, a standard it always deserved to be at.
Straight Outta Oz deals with subjects from childhood, and societal expectations that come from growing up, to freedom of sexuality/gender, to finance, family, race, violence etc. It seems almost impossible, and maybe ambitious to believe that someone can put all of that into one film and it works well. But it does. It works really well and it’s powerful. We’re taken on a musical journey, that gives us the time to briefly take it all in at each stage, but doesn’t allow us to fully understand it until the end of the film. At that point everything comes tumbling down on us, and we’re left with an incredible feeling, where we made to think seriously about the subject, whether we’re connected to them or not. Our emotion towards it become so much more real. Seeing as this is a film a little different from other reviews and it would be a VERY long post were I to say everything, I’d like to talk about my three favourite songs/scenes from it. Please be aware that these are the ones I love the most and that are personal to me, so please watch the whole thing to see the full extent. Each video on it’s own really doesn’t do justice to how it feels as a whole. For the same reason I’m not going to include the actual videos for each, I really want you to experience it as a whole.
- Water Guns ft Jordin Sparks.
If you’re a returning follower to this blog or to my channel, you’ll know that something in today’s society that has bothered me beyond comprehension is gun violence and the laws that come with it. Again I’m from a countryside town in Britain, gun violence is fortunately not a huge problem. Yet everything I’ve seen over in America, in other countries, even sometimes in other parts of Britain hurts me so much. Again as you’ll know from my blog post, and my spoken word poem, it took an even bigger turn when I woke to the news Christina Grimmie was shot. I never had the chance to meet her, but her music, her videos and her incredible love and protection toward her fans (frands) were huge to me and many of my friends growing up. Christina was a loving person and there would be no reason why someone should set out to kill her personally. Of course she isn’t the only victim, many others have lost their lives to this issue. Todrick sings with Jordin Sparks and a gospel-esque choir of various friends and others, about how it’s not kids running around with ‘water guns’ anymore. It’s not a game. It’s life, and it’s worrying. Everything about this song and video is fantastic. It’s empowering and inspires people to not be overcome with fear and to understand that we can’t let it continue (wherever we are). As one of the last songs, and as we build emotion it is harrowing to see at the end, tributes to just some of the dead including Christina. Harrowing but needed. It is a beautifully made, poetic and sensitive look into one of the words worst issues and I love it.
- Color ft Jay Armstrong Johnson
Like I said earlier, I’m straight. Feminine and metrosexual, but straight, so I can’t profess that I know the struggles of being gay, but that doesn’t matter. Color is easily one of my favourite songs/scenes from the film. It is unafraid and perfectly theatrical
in its nature. It talks of how life and love become so much clearer, and how the colour is seen once it is of the right type for you. It speaks of going against others judgement and of loving who you want to love. Also it sounds silly but there are a lot of videos/films that are pro-homosexuality, or that encourage loving who you want to love but that still avoid showing any of it. Color, like I said, is unafraid of that, it shows what it believes in and that is endearing.
- If I Had A Heart
One of the songs more explicitly close to the origins (The Wizard of Oz) If I Had A Heart is quite a simple but an undeniably creative spin on the original robot character. What I get from it is that it’s essentially talking about someone that has broken your heart to such an extent that it feels irreparable and unusable. It stays in it’s cage, too scared to entrust itself with anyone else and feeling as if it has no control even if it did want to. I think pretty much anyone can relate to this. The feeling of being empty inside, and feeling that your trust and your love has been hurt to such an extent that you can’t see it ever coming back. Like I said it’s interesting and it’s a much more creative and fun twist on the classic heartbreak song, or sad melody.
It’s at times like these that I wish I didn’t set myself a word count maximum of around 1,300 words, because I wish I could say so much more but I fear you’ll all start to tune out haha. So I’ll sum it up here. Todrick Hall has been one of those YouTubers/musicians I’ve been watching for many a year, and has continually surprised me. Straight Outta Oz is no exception, it is a brilliant, intelligent and important piece of art, that puts a modern twist on the journey of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. Probably my favourite part of this twist is just how the little sinister bits tie in and how the ‘yellow brick road’ ties in. Honestly, utterly fantastic. Todrick, if you see this, thank you for bringing this piece to our eyes and ears.