We saw Wicked tonight night with two of my sisters, Jess and Anna. And LOVED it! I even had a few teary moments! Here are some very brief thoughts about one of the main themes: acceptance. *SPOILER ALERT*
There are a number of touching songs. One of them is Elphaba’s solo “I’m not that girl” in which she sings of how she’s not the kind of girl that boys, especially the male lead, Fiyero, fall in love with. She’s not winsome or gold of hair with gentle curl (like Glinda) and so she mustn’t allow herself to dream of him because she mustn’t lost sight of who she actually is. In the end, Elphaba is proved wrong because Fiyero chooses her over Glinda. It’s something of a vindication for accepting someone for who they are, not because they fit into a particular mold. However, I wasn’t convinced that Wicked actually achieved this. For two reasons, I think it didn’t get past a cliched presentation of acceptance.
Firstly, when Elphaba and Fiyero have their love scene, Elphaba wishes that she could be beautiful for Fiyero. However, when she tells him this, he responds that she doesn’t need to change because he sees her from a different perspective now. I wonder what’s going on here. Is he simply choosing to overlook the fact that she’s green and somewhat ungainly? Or is he looking at her and choosing to love her anyway?
Secondly, while ever Fiyero is a stud and Elphaba is green, it is difficult for them to be together. It’s only at the end, when Elphaba has turned Fiyero into the straw man, and he too is in some sense deformed, that they are able to be together. This is classic matching hypothesis. Of course you can’t have a sub-standard girl with a great guy. Either she has to become good enough for him (Grease is a good example of this) or he has to be brought down to her level.
The model that Jesus has shown us is that he loved us when we were unlovely. And not by overlooking our deformity but by dealing with it. Wicked is only a musical, and I loved every minute of it but it did remind me how much further our society has to go before we ‘get’ acceptance. And how extraordinarily counter-cultural the love of God is.
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.