It’s not quite up there with some of the cosmic controversies of our time:
• Nature vs. nurture?
• Betty or Veronica?
• The Dear Abby/Ann Landers debate staple: Should the roll of toilet paper hang over or under?
• And the biggest of them all: Ginger or Mary Ann? (There’s even a blog that updates the usual debate and re-casts it in terms of writing for the Internet.)
While this isn’t quite up to those lofty standards, here’s an appropriate Halloween season debate, particularly with all the new attention to the 70th anniversary of the release of the classic film “The Wizard of Oz.” (There’s also talk of a movie remake, not to mention Rebecca Loncraine’s brand-new book, “The Real Wizard of Oz: The Life and Times of L. Frank Baum.”)
So, who’s your choice?
Glinda OR Elphaba
Good Witch of the North Wicked Witch of the West?
Here are some factors to consider before making your decision:
Screen actress: Billie Burke, who, incredibly, was 53 at the time of her film role, vs. Margaret Hamilton, who did double duty, also playing the nasty neighbor, Elmira Gulch.
Curtain call: Besides their movie appearance, the two witches star in the 2003 Broadway musical “Wicked,” a prequel back-story that’s based on Gregory Maguire’s novel “Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West.”
Broadway stars: In “Wicked,” Kristen Chenoweth (above), as Glinda, and Idina Menzel (below), as Elphaba, both got big musical numbers to strut their stuff. Glinda explains how to be “Popular,” while Elphaba touts the advantages of “Defying Gravity.”
Here are a few more factors to weigh before choosing:
Better laugh: Glinda’s annoying giggle vs. the Wicked Witch’s magnificent cackle.
Better mode of transportation: Glinda’s pink bubble vs. Elphaba’s old reliable broom. The bubble is no “Star Trek” transporter, but it’s hard to top Glinda’s entrance- and exit-making ability.
Better accessory: Glinda has the standard-issue fairy-princess wand, while the Wicked Witch has a relatively high-tech spy system with her oversized, all-seeing crystal ball.
Better headgear: Not surprisingly, Glinda gets to complement her flowing pink gown with a fancy crown. Elphaba, meanwhile, is stuck with a run-of-the-mill witch’s hat.
Better companions: A classic syrupy sweet vs. extremely sour matchup here: the Munchkins vs. the Flying Monkeys (is there anyone anywhere who, as a child, was not frightened by these guys?).
Better housing: The Wicked Witch, appropriately, lives in a dark, dank, spooky, old castle. It’s not clear, though, where Glinda hangs out when she’s not out doing good deeds.
Slot machine: And who’da thunk it, but both witches are now featured in what is arguably the most popular video slot machine in the nation. It’s titled, of course, The Wizard of Oz, and here’s a quick video tour of the high-tech game, a far cry from the traditional one-armed bandits. Earlier this year, they each got their own slot game, too: Glinda the Good Witch and Wicked Riches.
Don’t let me influence you, but my vote has to go to the underdog, the Wicked Witch of the West. In the words of “Music Man” Harold Hill (below), it’s “The Sadder But Wiser Girl” for me.
You can cast your vote and offer your rationale below in the Comment section.