Did you ever notice something very strange about Disney’s (OK, so maybe it’s not Disney’s, but it’s the classic one starring Gene Wilder as Wonka) version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? You know, of course, that the whole idea for getting kids to watch the movie is so that they think “I should be more like Charlie Bucket, huh…” and the world somehow becomes a better place (with equal rights for little people, too). However, it seems like most of the kids my daughter’s age (15) picked Veruca Salt as their role model rather than Charlie Bucket. Granted, it could be worse … I don’t think I could afford to feed Augustus Gloop, all of Violet’s gum-chewing would drive me crazy, and the cable bill for Mike Teevee … astronomical. But I was thinking … why Veruca? Why all of the I WANT IT NOW, and I’m so deprived and I deserve everything and you’re no good if you don’t get it for me and I shall whine and whinge and cry and cajole and beg and in general make your life a living hell if I don’t get my way?
Walt Disney has done this to us, folks. Veruca is the only child in the ENTIRE movie that gets a song-and-dance number to herself. She’s the only one who’s physically fit, not covered with dirt, and dressed to reflect any kind of fashion trend. Charlie has to sing covered with dirt, with either his mother or his grandfather. Both Violet and Augustus would have to sing with their mouths full. And Mike? He’s too wrapped up in a world that no longer exists (who plays cowboys and colored people nowadays). So Veruca it is.
Disney has made all of us parents think we should be Willie Wonka, and has given us a grain of Salt to take with that dream-tonic.