Villain Spotlight: Willy Wonka Part 1
Hey there evil geeks, Lilith has hijacked the Villain Spotlight again this week, and guess what- this is only part one! I am sure all my lovely fans are wetting themselves with joy over this news. And this week I bring back a classic character from many of our childhoods. While your dentist might try to convince you that Wonka was an evil, malicious villain for giving everyone so many cavities, I would argue that he does indeed fall in to the category of villain only for many different reasons. And since there are a couple versions of Willy Wonka floating around out there, we are going to start with my personal favorite version: Gene Wilder’s 1971 character.
I think a lot of us might think back to our childhood and watching the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory with some nostalgia. To this day I am a little saddened when I see a WONKA bar and decide to not try my chance at a golden ticket because of my choice to be vegan. So how could poor Willy Wonka, the owner of the most infamous chocolate factory ever, the man trying to gift out a never before behind the scenes tour of his award-winning chocolate shop, be a villain?! Let’s see by reliving some of our most favorite scenes from this timeless masterpiece. SPOILER ALERT- if for some godforsaken reason you have not yet seen this movie, continue forward with caution if you don’t want any secrets revealed before you do watch it.
After we get through the introductions of the five prize-winners obtaining their golden tickets, we arrive at the chocolate factory with the 5 children and their guardians. Willy Wonka finally reveals himself and introduces himself to the group. And rather than use this as a proper PR moment since he’s been hidden from view for years, what does he do? Wonka asks all of the tour-goers to sign a release form and contract before entering the factory. I am sure we are all used to these forms, you know, “For some mysterious reason you have decided to use our adventure club to run your guided swim with Great White Sharks, and by signing this form you alleviate our responsibility for any harm that may come to you on said adventure” where you fill in the blank with any asinine thrill-seeking trip one might go on. So why is this fishy? This film takes place in 1971, and the story likely took place before that, before the sue-crazy world took hold. Wonka is well ahead of his time and knows how to avoid getting himself in to trouble when putting others in harm’s way!
Our next major villainous feat: the oompa-loompas! These green-haired, orange-skinned midgets are from West Africa. While Wonka might have told a charming story that he saved this tribe of Africans from persecution by warring tribes and allowing them to instead work in his factory, we all know what he really did. Wonka is a supporter of slavery! Again, this is at least 1971, and here this factory-owning asshole is acting like it’s 1700 and he owns a plantation farm. I would love to see how Quintin Terentino could work Willy Wonka in to a story with good old Django.
And as we progress further in to our tour we start to see that yes Wonka had good reason to make everyone sign that contract and release form- many of the rules he set are hard not to break, and our first child down is Augustus, a sad portly little boy obsessed with chocolate. He tried to drink from a chocolate river (against the rules, talk about setting someone up to fail) and falls in only to be sucked up in to a chocolate pipe system, likely to drown. What does Wonka do? He fucking shrugs! Sorry folks, break the rules, not my fault if you die drowning in chocolatey-goodness.
Next up on our treacherous feats: our psychedelic boat trip down the chocolate river. Now if you happened to watch this scene before the age of 12, you might have been scarred for life. This scene is freaking terrifying, definitely a bad trip. How does Wonka help the situation? Aside from the fact that he sets up al our survivors for this horrifying, hallucinogenic boat trip, he narrates the whole thing in the most creepy, bone-chilling way. At one point he starts screaming the song and I swear his facial expressions make him a match for the spawn of Satan. There is a reason Marilyn Manson decided to cover this song on one of his original albums. And like all dual-personality serial killers, Wonka suddenly snaps back to reality, the boat trip is over, and we are back on a cheery chocolate factory tour.
After Augustus’ demise, there are many more losses from our group of children to follow. We see Violet turned in to a giant blueberry about to rupture, Veruca thrown down a garbage-disposal unit after being rejected as a bad egg, and Mike get transformed in to an ant-sized human by jumping in to be on the spotlight with Wonka-television. Our beloved main character Charlie survives, but only barely as he and his grandpa are almost chopped in to tiny bits by a gigantic fan in the ceiling, which I am convinced was another trap of Wonka’s. I personally think he has more likeness to Sweeny Todd then a chocolate factory owner- he’s probably been storing child’s body parts as the secret ingredients to his nougat for ages now.
At the end of the movie, thanks to the makers of the 1971 version, Wonka is actually placed in a good light, just an old man trying to retire and searching to find a worthy heir to his candy palace. But I don’t buy it. Why all the hoop-la? In my mind, though I enjoy the movie, Wonka will always be a sick, sadistic child-torturer. Hence he has earned himself a spot amongst our rank of villain spotlights.
Stay tuned kids- more chocolatey goodness will follow when I spotlight our second portrayal of Willy Wonka, more recently by the infamous (and quirky) Johnny Depp.
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Posted on January 23, 2014, in Features, Geekology, Movies, Villain Spotlight and tagged candy, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, children, villain spotlight, Villains, Willy Wonka. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.