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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Fraught with Racism and offensive content)

I just watched Charlie and the Chocolate factory and I noticed some things that I certainly don't remember from the 1970s version. I have never read the book so I don't how much of this stuff is actually in it. I should add that this write up is filled with spoilers.

Lets start with a few little things.

Early on in the film a story is told about how Willy Wonka goes to India to build a palace made completely out of Chocolate for an Indian Prince. Well it gets really hot and the palace starts to melt and the first drop of melted chocolate lands directly on the Indians forehead. I think the stereotype implications are clear.


After the golden ticket contest is announced. We are shown frenzied scenes from all over the globe. The most poignant is a market in Marrakesh Morocco where people are exchanging live animals for chocolate bars. They do use money in Morocco.


This one isn't race related but in my opinion walking a controversial line. The fourth winner of a golden ticket is Mike Teavee. Now look at this kid he is angry, playing violent video games, yelling at the TV ,wearing camo pants and a shirt with a skull and a bloody bullet hole on it. Out of all the places in the world the chose Denver Colorado to be this kids home. Denver is right next to Columbine where of course the infamous school shootings took place.


Now we get to the big issues of the whole movie. The Chocolate Factory.
Charlies Grandfather used to work at the chocolate factory before Wonka "closed" it. Did he get a pension? No he sleeps in a bed with 3 other people and lives in a house that has 7 people in it that is dilapidated beyond all belief.

But Wonka didn't really close the factory he just needed to find cheaper labor.
When the "Oompa Loompas" are first spotted in the factory. Wonka says that they are from Oompa land. Mike's Father says "there's no such place I'm a geography teacher". Wonka quickly snaps "then you'll know all about it and what a horrible place it is". Wonka tries to gloss over the fact that he invented the whole "Oompa Loompa" story and has uprooted these people from their homeland (claiming it was for their own good isn't that a common trait of slave drivers.)

Wonka claims that the "Oompas" will do anything for Cocoa beans (its all they want). So he gets them to live in his factory and pays them in cocoa beans. It is mentioned early on by Charlie's grandmother that no one is ever seen leaving the factory which by the way is surrounded by enormous iron gates.

By all indications the so called "Oompa Loompa's" are in fact African Pygmies. The term pygmy (from Greek pygmaios, "fist sized", a kind of dwarf in Greek mythology) can refer to any human or animal of unusually small size. This is evident by their small size and the fact that Wonka says he found them in the thick Jungle.

Additionally it is clear that Wonka doesn't even regard them as real people. After he is done explaining that the "Oompa Loompas" do all the work in the factory he catches the fat kid eating out of the river of chocolate and says "Hey little boy my chocolate must be untouched by human hands". Well we know that the factory workers must handle the chocolate. He's basically saying they aren't human. Also from the film making stand point making all of the "Oompa Loompa's" look exactly the same is in effect an attempt to dehumanize them by basically saying that they don't have individual identities and are nothing more than animals.

This shot of the slave ship is also very telling. It makes me wonder if the term "chocolate factory" refers to what the factory produces or the colour of the workers skin.

One last thing to add. They say that the golden tickets are hidden in countries all over the world yet the five winning kids all happen to be white.

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8:02 AM posted by Blogger HypnoGoddess

If you view the 70's movie, you will see that Gene Wilder makes the same comment about his chocolate having to be "untouched by human hands".

Also in the original you have the same comment about Oompa Land, the same uniformity of the Ooompa-Loompas and the same boat scene; this leads blog reader to believe the book author Roald Dahl to be the true racist, NOT the movie producers.

Mike Teevee in the original, is into cowboy and indian shoot-em-ups, and tends to greet people by kicking them;
another reference paralell; you should check the book for his living location as well.

Let's therefore be real; and if placing blame, put it where it belongs without misguidance. Author, not Hollywood.    



12:34 PM posted by Anonymous jamal

Quite true. and the blame does lie with hollywood.    



3:07 PM posted by Anonymous corpseblood the dragonboffer

i disagree, the author may have been racist, but that was 35 years ago where it was in abundance.
you'd think by now, hollywood would be able to recognise the racism and not re-release it with even more implications    



4:38 PM posted by Blogger barrett 'n megan

I think part of the point of this version of the film was to show just how screwed up Willy Wonka was as a person. It's about the problems that can develop if a person doesn't have a good connection with parents, that's why they keep linking back to his dad. And that's why he's creepy and made me think of Michael Jackson. He doesn't have a good sense of reality or right vs. wrong. So yeah, he does crazy things with the Oompa Loompas. But I don't think the movie was being racist, it was trying to show how irrational Wonka was.

But I agree about the melting chocolate palace, I thought the same thing - inappropriate.    



12:35 PM posted by Anonymous mai

if you are looking for racism in the media, or in the midst of the Hollywood machine, you should look elsewhere. Roald Dahl expressed his distaste for children staring all day at television, thus Mike TeeVee's character flaws; and considering how long ago it was written, that Columbine reference was a seriously misguided effort to read something into this that wasn't there. the Oompa Loompas weren't meant to portray any real people. this is a children's book, meant to entertain children, not to educate them on the different peoples and races in the world. to look at it any other way is to (obviously) find flaw in the writing as it pertains to real life because it isn't real life.

get over it. your argument has been given over and over again since before the movie was released, and it still has no merit.

(yes, i am an 'ethnic' person; Black, if you must label me)    



12:49 PM posted by Blogger Christopher Trottier

You could be offended if you really want to be offended. Or you could enjoy the movie. People who spend all day looking for things to be offended about really don't seem to enjoy life. But sometimes you just got to pick your battles (and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is not one of them).    



2:07 PM posted by Blogger Victrola

I agree with Christopher, these things although they maybe true; don't stand out unless you are over sensitive. Even if they did what harm are they causing? You can't just label something as a problem unless it has some consequence. This movie isn't some anti-semite propoganda flick. It's just a fairy tale.    



2:10 PM posted by Blogger Alex

You have to realize the difference between movie scenes that aren't overly culturally sensitive and racism. Nobody is going to suffer because a film made light-hearted fun of their culture. People will suffer from racism (which is not present in the film discussed).

Did you see white America up in arms over movies like "How High" or "Soul Plane?" Nope. It's just a little use of humorous stereotype. People need to quit the whining.    



10:08 PM posted by Anonymous Johnny Jones

You guys are fucked!!! Obviously he isnt talking about the book but the movie. He says so in the first line of the post.

Christopher said You could be offended or enjoy the movie... Well the movie sucked and theres nothing wrong with enjoying something and looking for what else lies beneath the surface.

I dont think you guys really get the tone of this guys site. If you have read more posts. They arent dead serious but more a social commentary.    



1:34 AM posted by Blogger Technicolour Nightmare

I agree with this to some extent- I just didn't think the movie was really all that great for kids. Then again Willy Wonka was horribly rude in the original. I'm going to have to read a book before I see which takes it more into its own hands.    



1:53 AM posted by Blogger Riss

Never saw the movie so I can't comment on it. But here are a few answers from the book:

1. The Indian Prince in the book gets melted in the palace. It doesn't discuss where the first drop hits.

2. There are no scenes in the book of Morocco.

3. I forget where Mike Teavee is from in the book, not certain they ever mention it.

4. It's an old book. Were pensions even considered for factory workers back then?

5. He didn't need CHEAPER labor he needed trustworthy labor. His human competitors were sending human spies into his factory and they were stealing his recipes.

6. In the book the Oompa Loompas are miserable in their homeland because they are preyed upon by vicious animals and can't protect themselves. They ask for cacao beans as payment for working since those beans are their greatest joy. They weren't portrayed as human in the book, more like mythical creatures. I don't think Dahl meant to be "racist" -- we weren't as politically correct then.    



8:15 AM posted by Blogger weenie

The film is supposed to be very close to Dahl's book, which was written in the early 60's when political correctness didn't exist.

Nearly all films made in Hollywood these days can be dissected in this way for a minority of people to get offended over.

Me, I'm ethnic too like Mai but common sense wins every time for me over misguided political correctness.    



1:57 PM posted by Blogger aMyth!

i dont think the makers of the movie or the author of the book were racists. it was just the characteristics of Willy Wonka. Am an Indian, and yes, i did think the Indian prince scene was rather dumb. but then, someone who actually builds a palace out of chocolate to live in, has to be dumb, right? ;)

anyways, i really don't get into these racist issues. it's bad, sure. but for me, "Charle and the Chocolate Factory" was a movie with Johny Depp giving a marvelous performance. Enjoy it :)    



6:45 PM posted by Blogger D-Max

Anyone who takes this movie seriously is way too uptight. You sound like the Religious Right and Harry Potter.    



1:39 AM posted by Blogger Mary

Ok. Movies are not real life, they are make beleave and are intended to be enjoyed that way. I watched it with my kids as I did the same as a kid and enjoyed it. People that have imaginations are wonderful. You know the old saying all work and no play makes for a dull person. Well no imagination or make beleave makes for a stagnet world. Without it we would still be in the dark ages. When racist, politics, etc...are put into it, then we just throw ourselves back a few centuries.    



2:49 PM posted by Anonymous Anonymous

fuck political corectness its the cancer of mankind.    



11:54 AM posted by Blogger Uncle Pavian

You find what you look for, I guess.

Maybe next time you could send the eight bucks to Greenpeace or somebody instead of spending it at the multiplex down at the mall.    



10:02 PM posted by Anonymous kayla

i have to say that you all missed the point completely. he's just analysing the movie a little deeper than face value which is necessary when comiing up with any interesting or creative ideas in life. i'm shocked that no one else gets this or the overall context of his blog. he's just looking at life and making observations that no one else bothers to make but are clearly there.    



9:16 AM posted by Blogger Webmiztris

i think you might be reading a teensy bit too much into all of that stuff.    



1:47 PM posted by Anonymous Anonymous

OMG DUDE GOT CHOCOLATE DROPPED ON HIS FOREHEAD OH NOES! RACISM! RACISM!

Grow up people.    



7:41 PM posted by Anonymous Amanda

It's just a movie, people. If you can get offended by a movie like Charlie and the chocolate factory then maybe you shouldn't be allowed out in society. We take ourselves way to seriously. And political correctness will be the death of us all.    



11:21 AM posted by Blogger Uncle Pavian

Maybe so. But eight bucks is eight bucks.    



10:07 AM posted by Blogger Alex Newman

The book is racist! Roald Dahl was an anti semite (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roald_Dahl#Anti-Semitism) and if you have watched the 1970s film, you will notice that the gates to the chocolate factory are the same as the gates to the death camp Auschwitz. Please draw your own inferences as to whom the oompa loompas resemble.    



6:01 AM posted by Anonymous Anonymous

Political correctness taken to new heights.
God bless America. Yes indeedy.    



6:07 AM posted by Anonymous Anonymous

Isn't it far more racist to consider the fact that he got chocolate dropped on his head to be anything more than a silly story inside a fantasy story of far away worlds?

Would it help any if it was white chocolate?
How about if they hadn't employed an asian man for the role at all, fearing the implications and just stayed with all white people just to avoid you utterly insane fools?

Is it any wonder that entertainments grows more and more bland every second with these people allowed to voice their dementia while those around can do nothing but listen quietly or be deemed a racist themselves.

You people have far too much time on your hands.

Christ, it's painful.    



4:55 AM posted by Anonymous Anonymous

If something like Family Guy or Futurama pulled these kinds of politically incorrect numbers, it'd be fine because they don't pretend to be teaching morals and actually have enough entertainment value to justify themselves. A movie like this deserves to get picked apart for being nothing but a low brow, CGI-coated turd aimed at kids.

Being politically incorrect only gets good results when there's enough wit or creativity to do something with it; the Chocolate Factory's got nothing, so of course it's going to get shafted. Like with most bad movies, the flaws are all that are memorable.    



5:03 AM posted by Anonymous Anonymous

Stumbled upon this and why I am commenting I'll never know. Chalk it up to an annoyance with the misinformed and having a particularly bad day. I agree with a comment made earlier, you can be offened by anything if you want to be. It was meant for childrens entertainment when it was written (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is as close to the book as you can get while Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory strays very very far from it for those who weren't aware).
Political correctness runs to rampant these days and, in my mind, is just as bad as racism. We're going out of our way to define people just as much as we were then, sure 'African-American' isn't as harsh as previous terms were but it's still defining someone based on skin color if you ask me.
Getting off track... This story was never meant to be racist, it's "Pure imagination."
Doesn't anyone understand the point of this story? Genuinly good natured children who respect their parents and elders are rewarded while children that are disobediant and disrespectful miss out. Hmmm what a novel concept for a CHILDRENS book!    



1:54 AM posted by Anonymous Anonymous

I watched the movie last night and had to turn it off. I guess that is ones right living in a democracy. Also ones rights include speaking out when something is "fishy". This movies racial overtones were so obvious that one has to be blind or stupid to miss it. To say that this is just a movie, enjoy it, just a childrens story, blah, blah, blah.... misses the entire point. It is a vehicle to teach kids how the world really is. Fairytales teach kids morals. Yes it teaches kids the importance of respect, family values, honesty and the pitfalls of greed, misbehaviour, overindulgence, self obsession, pride and being bratty. But, it also teaches kids that "black" people are; stupid, cheap labor, simple, not really human, primitive and less than "white" people. It also supports and justifies European colonial history and teaches kids that it was okay. Come on people, these beliefs and stereotypes are not a thing of the past and STILL DO EXIST. Anyone who denies this surely hasn't felt the affects of racism. But just because you may not have experienced some of the stereotypes contained within this movie doesn't mean others haven't.

It seems that most people expressing positions that deny this have a grief with "political correctness". But gone are the days when people who are affected by these stereotypes will sit back and keep their mouths shut. I'm no talking "kill Whitey", I'm just saying that when something smells "fishy" some people are going to ask what stinks. And if that confronts some peoples view of "how the world is" then perhaps they should look are what literature, films etc... helped form their world view as children themselves. Just because it doesn't affect you doesn't mean it doesn't affect someone else. And for those posters who come from a non European background and haven't been affected by racial stereotypes, then all I can say is that you are very lucky indeed. But perhaps you should ask yourself if you would be so fortunate if not for those who paid the price in the past for speaking out when something wasn't right. At least we live in a time when you won't be beat up, lynched, raped or shot for expressing ones point of view on these matters. But to deny that racism still exists, please, give me a break.    



3:24 PM posted by Blogger Rebecca

seriously? this is the most ridiculous shit i have ever read. the people complaining need to consider that, like it has been mentioned numerous times above, this is a fantasy children's story meant to tell a story about how remaining respectful (even to those who do not always deserve it), trustworthy and kind will pay off for you. the children who are nasty and disrespectful (the white kids someone pointed out earlier) are there to teach you personality flaws. it's a movie (and not a very good one at that). you have to be able to appreciate it for what it is: tim burton's adaptation of a classic story and film. he is a strange man, and had a difficult task of making this film his own. racist, he is not. jesus people. quit your bitching and go outside and play. the world is a much better place then it was when this book was written. so smile and appreciate how much better it will be for our children than it was for our grandparents.    



3:54 PM posted by Anonymous Anonymous

Seriously, grow up. We should call you racist for looking that hard for examples anyway.    



11:06 PM posted by Anonymous Anonymous

You all amuse me. First I want to say that I am not white. I also want to say that I have been treated like crap from racist white people.

However, I thought BOTH movies were great. My brother has read the books AND seen both movies. While they all have their similarities and differences they are still fiction.

Regardless of what race they may resemble, they are fictional character. That's all. Who cares about the moral OR the political correctness. It's made to entertain. So be entertained or turn off your TV or whatever you're watching these on and put them out of your mind.

Thinking about it and getting heated or nothing will get you nothing but probably even more heated.

I also want to point out that white people aren't the only race that can be racist.

When "ethnic" comedies make fun of white people, NO ONE complains about it or calls it a racist movie.

Get over yourselves!

Or not.

Either way you amuse the hell out of me. ^__^

S A Johnson    



11:10 PM posted by Anonymous Anonymous

I just wanted to add that "innocent" or "ignorant" (as in the DICTIONARY definition of the word) aren't going to know or see it anyway.

You know like if a movie has some chick eating a hot dog and your kid sees it...They will see someone eating a freaking hot dog

You're the perv who thought of something perverted and got all upset about it being shown.

Because most likely you're that type of person if your freaking about the imagination of a movie/book.


(So yeah...Have fun getting all worked up about the next pointless debate.)    



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6:49 PM posted by Anonymous Invisible_Jester

Seriously?

The Oompas, granted, were and are controversial, but most everything in this film was meant to be TIMELESS. Hence the 'inappropriate' connotations of the Moroccans and the Indian guy. Also, as for the dot, only Hindi women who are widowed wear it; I highly doubt that's what it was meant to represent. How do you know that wasn't just the best take Burton got with that scene and the chocolate just so happened to land in the middle of his forehead? Oh no, a coincidence! How racist!

As for Mike Teavee? His t-shirt's representative of his obsession with violent games and shows. It has nothing to do with columbine and I'm sure Burton didn't intend it that way, seeing as the film is supposed to be set in a TIMELESS atmosphere. And all the kids being white? They were white in the 70's film, too. Is that film racist as well?

Get off your high-ass horse and admit that even directors make poor decisions. Not everything in this world is 'racist'; you, sir/madam should be ashamed of yourself for finding stupid reasons to hate a film you don't like. If you dislike the film, give a credible reason to it; don't just say "Oh it's so racist!" and leave it at that. Grow a brain, plz.    



8:00 PM posted by Anonymous Anonymous

This is the stupidest thing I have ever read.    



3:02 AM posted by Anonymous Anonymous

IF YOU IDIOTS DON'T REALIZE HE IS JOKING THEN GET OFF THIS SITE.    



3:03 AM posted by Anonymous Anonymous

Wow! I didn't want to bother with the movie in the first place, and after reading these comments, now I think I never will. Does this movie have any redeeming qualities or is it all about perceived racism? And yes, I didn't have to watch it to conclude that the chocolate drop on Indian prince's forehead indeed is stupid.    



9:32 AM posted by Anonymous Anonymous

Your 'in depth' review of the apparent racism is the stupidest thing I've ever heard. It's a movie, get over it, you idiot.    



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