My Deep Dark Secret: I HATE Willy Wonka!

When I was a little girl, we had to watch the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory movie in school.  While most of my classmates sat on the library floor pin straight and smiling, rapt with attention, mouths watering from all that candy on the screen; I was hunched over in a ball, eyes intently studying my fingers, tears on my cheeks, praying for the bell to ring. 

The truth of the matter was, everything about this movie frightened me.  To me, the Oompa Loompas looked like demonic oranges thirsting for blood . . .

. . . or, perhaps, the cast of MTV’s Jersey Shore, whichever you prefer. 

(“Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid.”)

And Gene Wilder had the same wild and crazy eyes Jack Nicholson had in The Shining, not exactly the ideal babysitter, if you know what I mean.  Not to mention what the “kindly” Willy Wonka did to the kids.  I mean, I get that this movie was based on a  Roald Dahl novel that was supposed to be a cautionary tale against childhood misbehavior.  But, seriously, did the harsh punishments really fit the crimes here? 

At the end of the original film, Wonka assures Charlie that all of the other kids will be returned to their normal selves.  And yet, after each child met his or her respective fate, we never saw any of them again.  As a child, I truly believed that Willy Wonka killed them all.  After all, isn’t that exactly what adults told kids when someone or something died – that they just “went away?” 

Sound crazy to you?  Look at the evidence.  Violet Beauregard eats a piece of gum that she isn’t supposed to eat, and, as a result becomes instantly and morbidly obese.  What kind of message is that for young girls?  Not only does she become obese, her skin becomes blue, as in, suffocation blue.  That girl was a coronary waiting to happen, if you ask me.

Augustus Gloop served as another threat against the dangers of overeating.  (You might as well call this movie Jenny Craig for Kids.) 

(“Come on, boys and girls . . . They have Chicken Fettucini . .  FETTUCINI!!!!!”)

Augustus gets sucked into a chocolate fudge pipe and dumped into a chocolate fudge river.  Now, I’m no science buff, so I’m not quite an expert on the buoyancy properties of fudge.  However, I know it’s not meant for swimming.  And to me, it kind of looked like the poor kid drowned . . .

The spoiled Veruca Salt gets attacked by rabid squirrels (Note: I’m from New Jersey, so all squirrels are rabid, as far as I’m concerned.)  She then gets dropped down a high shoot, with nothing to pad her fall.  Couch potato Mike Teevee is shrunk to teeny weeny size, and, the way I saw it, probably ended up stepped on and squashed like a bug.

In 2005, Tim Burton remade the film in such a way that you actually saw the “bad kids” exiting the factory at the end of the movie, alive and well.  And yet, while not quite as traumatic (I was also a bit older by this point), this version still creeped me out.  That inexplicable back story Tim Burton added made Johnny Depp’s Willy Wonka look like a pedophile who was definitively abused and possibly molested as a child.  And that dentist chair scene?  I get chills just thinking about it . . .

(“I’ve been waiting for you . . . little Clarice.”)

So, as you can see, when it comes to Willy Wonka, I’m simply not a fan.  Please don’t hate me!

15 Comments

Filed under Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

15 responses to “My Deep Dark Secret: I HATE Willy Wonka!

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  3. how did i miss this!?!?! i HATE this damn movie with a passion that BURNS! who thought this would be a good idea for a kid’s story? someone who hated kids?
    man, i almost cried when they brought it up on LOST this week!

    • My sentiments exactly, Lola! If Roald Dahl (may he RIP) didn’t write the awesome children’s tale, Matilda, I would TOTALLY think he despised kids! If a child is acting like a brat, you give him or her a time out, or ground the child. You don’t turn the child into a morbidly obese blueberry, or drown it in fudge, or shrink it to ant-size so it gets squashed, or turn it into a nut! Plus, there was always something about Willy Wonka that struck me as vaguely pedophillic. You know? Have you ever heard Marilyn Manson’s version of the “tunnel speech” (the one in the Lost previews)? HORRIFYING! And yet, totally on point with the rest of this sadistic tale . . .

  4. last night was the first time i heard it, i remember right after the promo aired and everyone was just sitting around the tv looking dumbstruck. i asked, my voice trembling: “what was that quoting?” and i swear EVERYONE in the room said “f*ing charlie and the chocolate factory”

    why would LOST do that to us all?

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    • Thanks so much for the intel, and the article link, Kyle!

      It’s interesting that the original film, which came out in the early 70’s (quite a bit before my time, actually), has experienced such a resurgence in popularity, halfway across the world.

      Actually though, when you think about it, the film’s newfound popularity in Japan makes a lot of sense. The horror elements we see in the original Willy Wonka are actually remarkably similar (though admittedly toned down a bit) to the ones we see in popular “modern” Japanese thrillers, like the Ring and the Grudge.

      Thanks again for shedding new light on this (for me) VERY frightening topic! 🙂

  6. Oh my, the dark side of this movie! I don’t think I’ll ever be able to listen to the soundtrack the same way again…On further analysis, I can totally see why this movie is not nostalgic for you. Though every kid that met his/her doom was bratty, obnoxious, etc. but it still didn’t make it right! Does the Dahl book essentially “get rid” of Mike TV, Veruca Salt, etc. only to never hear back from them again?

    • I agree, Tanya. Gosh, if every kid who was ever bratty or obnoxious deserved to meet their doom like the kids in this film, our population would probably die out completely! 🙂 Interestingly enough, according to Wikipedia, in the book version of this story, at least, the “bad kids,” though each permanently disfigured, which is awful enough, survived the Factory. Here’s what Wiki had to say on the subject:

      “As they depart, they see the four bad children leave the factory with permanent reminders of their misbehavior as well as their lifetime supply of chocolate:

      Augustus is squeezed thin and covered in chocolate.
      Violet is blue all over her body.
      Veruca and her parents are covered in garbage.
      Mike is ten feet tall and very thin.”

      Interestingly enough, Wikipedia also mentions a “Lost Chapter” of the novel, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, where a kid DID die. That chapter was removed from the book, on account of, being too gruesome. Here’s the notation from Wiki on that Chapter:

      “In 2005, a short chapter, which had been removed during the editing of the book, as it seemed too gruesome for younger readers, entitled “Spotty Powder”, was published. The chapter featured the elimination of Miranda Piker, a “teacher’s pet” with a headmaster father, allegedly one of several other children who Dahl originally created for the book but had to cut out due to size constraints. Wonka introduces the group to a new sweet that will make children temporarily appear sick so they can miss school that day, which enrages Miranda and her father. They vow to stop the candy from being made, and storm into the secret room where it is made. Two screams are heard and Wonka agrees with the distraught Mrs. Piker that they were surely ground into Spotty Powder, and were indeed needed all along for the recipe, as they “got to use one or two schoolmasters occasionally or it wouldn’t work.” He then reassures Mrs. Piker that he was joking. Mrs. Piker is escorted to the boiler room by the Oompa-Loompas, who sing a short song about how delicious Miranda’s classmates will find her.”

      You can find the entire Wiki article on the novel here:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlie_and_the_chocolate_factory

      Thanks so much for stopping by, and for your insights! 🙂

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  8. I detested this movie and hated Willy Wonka the man. In rewatching it as an adult, the only moment that I liked Wonka was when he yelled at boy and his guardian at the end. For the first time, he showed real emotion and humanity. The rest of the time he was a calculating creep.

    • Hey Marijon! Excellent point. Willy Wonka genuinely did seem to lack any sort of human emotion, up until the end of the film. It was quite disturbing, actually. That’s one thing, I think the remake of the film got right, that it’s predecessor got wrong. In the original movie, you get the impression that the filmmaker wants you to LIKE Willy Wonka, because he’s “silly” and “gives kids candy,” despite his clearly sociopathic tendencies. At least, in the new version of the film, Johnny Depp portrays Willy Wonka as precisely what he is . . . a troubled psychotic, who suffered a horrible childhood, and, as a result, has become a legitimately frightening adult, who seems to hate just about everyone, except for his Oompa Loompas. 🙂

  9. I ABSOLUTLEY HATE WILLY WONKA! I’ve been in this musical before, and I was an oompa loompa. I hated it the whole time. I wanted to be Veruca Salt. So I just auditioned for the same play again, but at school. AND NOW I’M A CANDY MAN KID. REALLY? I even auditioned better than before! So, I hate this stupid stinkin show. The book, the musical, the movies. Everything. I even hate the Wonka Chocolate bars that all SOUND good, but TASTE awful.

  10. Random

    Oh you’re so funny and don’t worry, I don’t adore Willy Wonka like everybody else either (though for my own reasons.)
    The punishments were “harsh” because the kids actually represent the 7 deadly sins. Augustus Gloop is obviously gluttony, Veruca Salt is greed, Mike Teevee is sloth and wrath and Violet Beurogard (who I swear is just a representation of Roald Dahl’s personal pet peeve) is pride. I’m not a Christian or anything, but it does make more sense if you see it that way.

    I, myself, have a love hate relationship with the movie. I love it because it’s a childhood fave, I hate it because it talked down to me and sugarcoated things (ie Oompa Loompa nursery rhymes.) Two things Roald Dahl would never do. And as you said, it potentially lied to me. Like when Willy Wonka leaves the fate of the kids unknown, Roald Dahl would have straight up shown you their fates, even if they had died.
    Plus those aliens calling themselves Oompa Loompas are freaking creepy and don’t get me started on the predator running the candy store. Serious creep factor, there!

    Okay, so now I’m going into fangirl mode for a moment or two.
    *clears throat*
    Roald Dahl himself, was a very dark children’s author. He was very nonchalant about death, killing bad people at will in silly gruesome ways. Which made his books darkly hilarious. His word play was creative, engaging and fun. His books had very dark themes, people and circumstances, but they were often from a perspective of a child, which made you question whether or not if the things happening were really happening or just part of the character’s imagination. They were also countered by silly, whimsical and fantastical elements he loved to throw in.
    His appeal (at least for me) was that he actually took kids very seriously. Sometimes to the point where he would actually overestimate their ability to handle grotesque material. A good example would be his short and weird poem collection called “Repulsive Rhymes” which his parody version of children’s sanitized Fairy Tales.
    In this he questions our beloved Fairy Tale characters’ motivations and actions, getting kids to see them from another perspective. In addition the book has people getting their heads chopped off, two wolves getting killed and worn as coats, a pig being turned into a purse and Red Riding Hood who is a badass with a gun in her knickers.
    I remember loving this book as a child, because it was freaking hilarious. And it was the first time I saw an adult finally call out Goldilocks for breaking and entering. I mean, people protest an author who takes kids very seriously, but overlook a Fairy Tale in which the protagonist is a criminal? Geez, priorities people!

    My point is, despite the fact that Roald Dahl’s novels are very unsettling for adults and even for some of his target audience, we need authors like this. Authors who are not afraid to scare their audience, authors who take kids seriously enough not to patronize them, not to shy away from the cruel reality of the world, authors who will illicit their imagination and give them the violence that kids adore.

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