Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Thursday, March 08, 2007

WWWWD? (What Would Willy Wonka Do?)

By Julie Coulter Bellon

My youngest child has discovered Gene Wilder’s version of "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" movie—and now he’s obsessed with it. I have watched this movie every day for the last two weeks. I find myself singing the Oompa Loompa song under my breath in the grocery store until I realize what I’m doing and stop because people are staring at me. When my oldest son came home with a grumpy look on his face I sang, "Cheer Up Charlie" to him until he rolled his eyes and begged me to stop. I think I’ve memorized most of the dialogue now. Truthfully, it’s playing right now while I’m writing this and I can quote it! The interesting thing is, the more I watch this, the more I see parallels to gospel principles. (I’ll wait a minute while you pick yourself up off the floor. Stop laughing. I mean it! This show is an ALLEGORY!)

Let me explain.

If you don’t know, this is the story of Charlie Bucket, a sweet innocent boy from humble circumstances. He works hard and helps others, including his family. Both sets of grandparents are bedridden (oddly, they are at opposite ends in the same bed. That could be an allegory to explore all in itself) and his family unit is poor but loving.

Charlie is told that the nearby Wonka candy factory was shut down because of spies dressing up as workers and trying to corrupt and steal the Wonka secrets. The gates were closed completely, until suddenly, after three years, the factory started up again and the most delicious candy started to be produced.

The world is then told that all are invited to try to find a Golden Ticket to be given the opportunity to be go inside the gates of the Wonka factory. Mr. Slugworth immediately begins to tempt all those who find golden tickets and he's quite adept at whispering in everyone's ear. The great search for Golden tickets goes on around the globe and people use every means to find a ticket, including technology and computers. People are focused on it and feel like their lives will change if only they could find the Golden Ticket. The movie even shows poor Mr. Hofsteder who is lying on a couch talking about his dreams that an archangel appeared to him and told him where to find the golden ticket.

Children all over the world suddenly begin finding the tickets. Augustus is the first one to find a ticket, yet is almost too busy to be interviewed because of his over-eating and gluttonous ways. The second ticket is found because a girl named Veruca has a father who uses all his means and money to find that golden ticket for her. He even bribes his workers to find the ticket. Veruca’s shrill signature whine of "DADDY! I want a . . ." grates on my ears, and showcases her avarice and greed when nothing her parents do are ever good enough. Then we meet Violet and her father, both very prideful people. Her father is a prominent politician and citizen, and doesn’t hesitate to let people know it, just like his daughter brags at her gum-chewing prowess. The fourth ticket goes to Mike who only thinks about TV and violence, obviously a slothful and lazy child obsessed with the television screen. The race for the last ticket is on.

Charlie’s family sacrifices to give him a gift of two Wonka bars, but none hold the golden ticket. Then Charlie miraculously finds enough money to buy another Wonka bar that holds the golden ticket. This leads to the miracle of Charlie’s grandfather being able to get out of bed. He now has the opportunity to go through those gates. The day finally arrives and people have come from all over the world to view "paradise" in the form of the factory as the five children and their family members are led inside.

Once inside, they are in awe of the beauty and wonder all around them as Willy shows them his kingdom. Unfortunately, four of the children are unable to overcome their sins and their actions lead them away from paradise. Interestingly enough, we also meet the Oompa Loompas, a race of people who were saved by Willy Wonka from certain death by wangdoodles and snozwangers in Loompaland. No one has ever heard of this race of people, but Willy Wonka knew all about them and offered them peace and safety if the Oompa Loompas would come and live with him. These little people have uncanny abilities to see the situation for what it is and what should be done about it and they are very loyal to Willy Wonka and do exactly what he asks them to do.

Charlie is tested during this time to see if he will hold true to the promises he has made, and when he passes the test, he is told that he will inherit everything that Willy Wonka has, and not only that, but he will get to bring his whole family to "paradise" and "live happily ever after."

There are so many comparisons I could make, but I believe you could look at this as an allegory of our attempts to find our "golden ticket" and find our way back to our Heavenly Father. We are tempted daily to see if we will remain true to what we know is right, to that inner compass that will guide us. The heavens are not closed to us and we are invited to come to our Heavenly Father at any time. We all have our Slugworth’s to tempt us, but we also have miracles and blessings all around us as well.

If we will live the commandments, we receive that "golden ticket" to admit us into the gates, but we are ultimately responsible to overcome our faults to be able to live in paradise. As the movie illustrates, if you give in to your gluttony and fall in the river of chocolate, well, you’re up the creek. If you’re a bad egg, like Veruca, shrilly demanding that you get what’s coming to you, you probably will get what’s coming to you and head down to "the furnace room." Then there’s Violet who was warned over and over not to go into untested paths, but she continued and of course it "blew" up in her face. Poor Mike’s life became what his heart had sought after and he was reduced to nothing more than becoming what he’d spent his whole life doing—being caught up in television and made a "star."

Our sins don’t have to become part of us. By following those who will not lead us astray, asking for help when we need it, and making right choices, we can overcome anything. Just like Charlie, we can rise to the top (maybe not in a glass elevator) and the world will fall away and we will be able to see a new perspective and gain the blessings we were always meant to have.

So when you are tempted, think of the Oompa Loompa song. They were very wise if you listen closely. Here’s the lyrics in case you don’t know them. I know they’re stuck in MY head.

Oompa, Loompa, doom-pa-dee-do I have a perfect puzzle for you Oompa, Loompa, doom-pa-dee-dee If you are wise, you'll listen to me

What do you get when you guzzle down sweets? Eating as much as an elephant eats What are you at getting terribly fat? What do you think will come of that? I don't like the look of it

Oompa, Loompa, doom-pa-dee-da If you're not greedy, you will go far You will live in happiness too Like the Oompa Loompa doom-pa-dee-do

Oompa, Loompa, doom-pa-dee-do I have another puzzle for you Oompa, Loompa, doom-pa-da-dee If you are wise, you'll listen to me

Gum chewing's fine when it's once in a while It stops you from smoking and brightens your smile But it's repulsive, revolting, and wrong Chewing and chewing all day long The way that a cow does

Oompa, Loompa, doom-pa-dee-da Given good manners, you will go far You will live in happiness too Like the Oompa Loompa doom-pa-dee-do

Oompa, Loompa, doom-pa-dee-do I have another puzzle for you Oompa, Loompa, doom-pa-da-dee If you are wise, you'll listen to me Who do you blame when your kid is a brat? Pampered and spoiled like a Siamese cat Blaming the kids is a lie and a shame You know exactly who's to blame The mother and the father

Oompa, Loompa, doom-pa-dee-da If you're not spoiled, then you will go far You will live in happiness too Like the Oompa Loompa doom-pa-dee-do

Oompa, Loompa, doom-pa-dee-do I have another puzzle for you Oompa, Loompa, doom-pa-da-dee If you are wise, you'll listen to me What do you get from a glut of TV? A pain in the neck and an IQ of three Why don't you try simply reading a book? Or can you just not bear to look? You'll get'll get'll get no commercials

Oompa, Loompa, doom-pa-dee-da If you're not greedy, you will go far You will live in happiness too Like the Oompa Loompa doom-pa-dee-do


At 3/08/2007 1:50 PM, Anonymous Meredith said...

I'm glad that you blogged about this! You seemed skeptical when I first introduced the idea, but it really does leap out at you when you watch the film from that perspective.

Great blog!

At 3/08/2007 1:55 PM, Blogger Julie Coulter Bellon said...

Meredith, you are the master of allegory. I seriously could have done a thesis paper on this with all the comparisons we made. Although I forgot to add how the lickable wallpaper could be compared to manna. :)

Also, WWWWD was totally Meredith's idea, but it was so cute I couldn't resist. Isn't it great to have creative friends!

At 3/08/2007 2:01 PM, Blogger Jeff Savage said...

And don't get me started on the whole Edward Scissor-hands thing. Oh no wait, wrong Willy.

At 3/08/2007 7:09 PM, Blogger Jon said...

When I read the blog title, I had What Would Brian Boytano Do? going through my head. Your version is probably better, though. =)

At 3/12/2007 11:48 AM, Blogger G. Parker said...

What a hoot. Of course, you know Ronald Dahl had lots of allegories in his books, but I like your version better. I do have to tease though, Veronica's father is a car salesman...not a politician, although, aren't both the same? LOL
Good blog!

At 3/12/2007 11:57 AM, Blogger Julie Coulter Bellon said...

Well, after seeing this movie eighty times now, I can assure you that Violet's father is introduced as a prominent local politician, civic leader, and does indeed sell cars as well. :)

Glad you liked the blog!

At 3/21/2007 1:38 PM, Blogger Whitney said...

Hey, I’m Whitney from Cone Inc.; we represent WONKA® candies and want to let you know that Willy Wonka is preparing for his wackiest, wildest, craziest idea yet.

The Oompa Loompas, who are always looking for an opportunity to add to the fun, have produced a video that we want you to be among the first to see. The video will help Willy announce his wacky idea and show how you can help.

This is just a heads up. The video will be up on on April 1st but we will share it with you next week.



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