Willy Wonka in small town Pomona

From Ninin Ga Shinobuden, v.3, p.100.

So Sunday afternoon I dropped on into the Fox Theater and watched Willy Wonka! Before the show started, the director of the film, Mel Stewart was there up on the stage and they interviewed hir. It was a pretty cool interview. A couple of the most interesting things said were from a question by a young person who asked about how they made the Ooopa Loompa’s hair. Supposedly it took quite some time to do their makeup every day. They were also difficult folks to find for the film from around the world, and due to this, the “little people” actors spoke a lot of different languages and thus a lot of them had to take stage direction using hand signals. And we learned that there’s a difference between dwarves and migets, both of whom appeared in the film as Oompa Loompas. Midgets have normal bodies that are just a much smaller scale than normal, dwarves have a normal sized head, but a smaller body than normal.

And then the movie started! It was actually my first time watching the film from start to finish. Before this, I’d only seen clips here and there in passing.

Social commentary in the film

The film was actually quite thought provoking in so far as the concept of the society of the spectacle, promoted by Guy Debord and the Situationists. The golden ticket was a profoundly huge capitalist spectacle, created by industrial society. Children and adults were transfixed by the enormous climb which it could give them in the social hierarchy which was promoted, as shown in the film, through capitalist media and advertising – skyrocketing it’s exclusivity, glamour, and created importance. And that spectacle was so powerful in the film that it even inspired the lame to walk! as in the example of Grandpa Joe. Watch out Jesus, here comes the capitalist spectacle! Anyway, it was a very interesting representation of this phenomenon of spectacle present then and today.

Another interesting phenomenon present was how capitalist society both creates the immorality of the exploitation of the land of the Oompa Loompas and then by the existence and exercise of its power, creates the morality of displacing the Oompa Loompas from their land granting them the “freedom” of the worker. As well, the poor economic conditions of Charlie and hir family, created by the ownership system, had their hope for redemption in the cure of the lottery of the spectacle.

The whole obsession with spectacle and power, even for the children, was wonderfully exhibited through the song lines in the golden egg room, “I want it all… I want the world!” lol!

Also, the concept of the innocence of children and their play being some pinnacle of morality driving Willy Wonka hirself, definitely put a happy face on situations which they would dare not, nor scarcely think of changing through some great social transformation. Essentially, the film has the potential to keep both children and adults brainwashed and caught up in both the spectacle and power within social hierarchies. Still, amid it all, the movie was great fun!

Fun stuff in the film

The scene where someone was talking to the sentient computer, a Siemens System 4004, and it refused to tell them when and where the ticket was because it couldn’t eat any of the lifetime supply of chocolate was great. There were also some great lines squeezed in here and there: I loved Wonka’s line, “Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker”!!!! And I loved the line, “It’s got more gas in it than a politician.” And speaking of gas, it was also amazingly funny in the film when Charlie and Grandpa Joe were burping and burping — everyone out in the theater, including myself, started to burping too! lololol!

Pomona – “a small town feel”

After the film, I ran into lots of people I know, but the one thing that struck me the most was something I overheard someone say, that while up in balcony they were so amazed that although so many people were strangers to them, everyone was so friendly and social with each other, that it had “a small town feel” that they had not experienced before in Pomona. Well, I am sure Pomona is in store for much more of that! :)

See ya ‘round Pomona yall!

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