[A] thing that’s really unique about The Wizard of Oz to me is that all of the most heroic and wise and even villainous characters are female.

Now I started to notice this when I actually showed Star Wars to my daughter … At that point I also had a son. He was only three at the time. He was not invited to the screening. He was too young for that. But he was the second child, and the level of supervision had plummeted. So he wandered in, and it imprinted on him like a mommy duck does to its duckling, and I don’t think he understands what’s going on, but he is sure soaking in it.

And I wonder what he’s soaking in. Is he picking up on the themes of courage and perseverance and loyalty? Is he picking up on the fact that Luke joins an army to overthrow the government? Is he picking up on the fact that there are only boys in the universe except for Aunt Beru, and of course this princess, who’s really cool, but who kind of waits around through most of the movie so that she can award the hero with a medal and a wink to thank him for saving the universe, which he does by the magic that he was born with?

Compare this to 1939 with The Wizard of Oz. How does Dorothy win her movie? By making friends with everybody and being a leader. That’s kind of the world I’d rather raise my kids in — Oz, right? — and not the world of dudes fighting, which is where we kind of have to be. Why is there so much Force — capital F, Force — in the movies we have for our kids, and so little yellow brick road?

From Colin Stokes’s TEDxBeaconStreet talk, “How movies teach manhood.” Watch his entire talk here.

TEDx goes to the movies: 5 TEDx Talks on film in honor of the Academy Awards

imageWhile the film world gears up for the Oscars this Sunday, we’re pulling back the curtains on all the glitz and glamor to see what really goes into making all the films we want to see (and honor).

From actors and directors to photographers and animators, a whole host of experts have graced the TEDx stage to illuminate the art of making a film worth spreading.

So without further ado, 5 TEDx Talks to prepare you for the Oscars:

Bringing Wallace and Gromit to Life: Merlin Crossingham at TEDxGranta

How is it that simple lumps of animated clay can elicit such strong emotions? In this talk at TEDxGranta, Merlin Crossingham, creative director of the popular series Wallace and Gromit, explains that humans are hardwired to project our human emotions and experience onto things that look familiar — even a dog-shaped bit of plasticine.

Light and shadow: Eve Hazelton at TEDxEaling

One of the most evocative aspects of any film is found in the power of light and shadow. At TEDxEaling, Eve Hazelton, director of photography for Realm Pictures in the UK, explores the power of proper lighting to make a scene come alive.

The six degrees of Kevin Bacon: Kevin Bacon at TEDxMidwest

By now, almost everyone has heard of the “six degrees of Kevin Bacon” game (even Google has created an algorithm) — attempting to trace, via six degrees of separation or less, a connection from any person to the actor Kevin Bacon. In this witty and inspiring talk from TEDxMidwest, Bacon recounts his reaction to “six degrees” and the way he turned a ridiculous party game into an opportunity to do good.

What I did with my liberal arts degree: Brad Simpson at TEDxBrownUniversity

Producing movies isn’t just a career — it’s also a way of thinking, says filmmaker Brad Simpson. At TEDxBrownUniversity, he tells the story of pinning down this mindset, something he picked up in his days as a young liberal arts student.

The hidden meanings in kids’ movies: Colin Stokes at TEDxBeaconStreet

When Colin Stokes’ 3-year-old son caught a glimpse of Star Wars, he was instantly obsessed. But what messages did he absorb from the sci-fi classic? Stokes asks for more movies that send positive messages to boys: that cooperation is heroic, and respecting women is as manly as defeating the villain.

Photo from Flickr user kirvanvlandren