So the actors who played the Munchkins in The Wizard of Oz finally got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame yesterday, giving news writers across the country a chance to dust off their witty story-opening skills. Oh, the puns they employed! Which means it’s high time for what I like to call an old-fashioned lede-off…
* Boring things first: The Associated Press kept a straight face, as is its wont: “Almost 70 years after ‘The Wizard of Oz’ premiered at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, a few of the film’s Munchkins made a grand entrance there Tuesday to receive a collective star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.” Indeed they did. Zzz.
* Others chose to flog a mega-obvious Oz joke, including Reuters (“The Yellow Brick Road finally ended on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Tuesday…”) and this local NBC affiliate (“A Hollywood star for the ‘Wizard of Oz’ Munchkins? Even for Scarecrow it was a no-brainer!”). That sound you hear is me not laughing.
* A local ABC broadcaster, meanwhile, made an ill-advised dash toward the think-piece route: “We all remember the twister, the flying monkeys and the Wicked Witch of the West. But what would the ‘Wizard of Oz’ be without the Munchkins?” Unfortunately for them, an unrelated blog post over at hecklerspray.com pretty much killed that line of inquiry: “Without the Munchkins, The Wizard of Oz would have been totally different — a story about a young girl in a strange magical land instead of a story about a young girl in a strange magical land where a bunch of midgets do a dance at the end.” Harsh!
Still, the award for most uncomfortable lede definitely has to go to the Los Angeles Times, which appears to have outsourced this assignment to Michael Scott from The Office: “They’re little more than waist high to some people. But on Tuesday no one was standing taller in Hollywood than the Munchkins.” Uff.
Okay, look, I get that there’s virtually no fresh way to write about something like this. But were these really the best opening sentences these writers could come up with? I’m in more of a mock-the-hard-work-of-others than a contribute-something-constructive-myself mood at the moment, so I’ll leave the suggestions up to you. In the meantime, a few other points to ponder: Does anyone else think it’s kinda weird and patronizing to give all 124 “Munchkins” a single collective star? Did the surviving Munchkins all have to fit their hand- and footprints on that one square of concrete? And is it even possible for you to read the word “Munchkin” that many times in a row and not think of Dunkin Donuts?