Tonight I just finished reading Charlie and the Chocolate factory with my son. This is the first chapter book I've read all the way through with him. And it was a ton of fun. First off, I'll admit that I love the movie. I grew up with it. (I'm talking about the Gene Wilder version, of course.)I'll even admit to liking the movie better than the book. Which is something that doesn't happen very often with me. That said, the book is really, really good. It held my four-year old's attention. It's silly, and it's fun. And it's DARK. For those of you who haven't read the book, let me underline this fact for you. Dahl takes pains to really detail the fact that Charlie and his family aren't just hungry and poor. They're destitute. Charlie sleeps on a mattress on the floor. In the winter they are cold, and they're starving to death. And if you think I'm exaggerating on that last point, I'm not. One of the chapters is titled: The Family Begins to Starve. But you know what? I like this book better because of that. It's not sanitized pablum written by committee to be inoffensive. It's the story of a little boy who is in a fucking awful situation, but he is still good and kind and polite and then something really nice happens to him. That's a trope I can get behind. Its it a good book to read with your kids? Absolutely. That said, allow me to tangent off and share my thoughts as a total bastard:If Willie Wonka actually hired workers and paid them a living wage, maybe Charlie Bucket wouldn't be starving to death in the first place. Follow me here. Wonka is effectively running a company where everyone is paid in scrip. The Oompa Loompas are paid, quite literally, in beans. Beans that I'm guessing he has the Oompa Loompas themselves growing in some huge underground cavern. Let's not even get into the ethical tarpit of the fact that Wonka uproots an entire indigenous culture and enslaves them. Let's just look at this from a raw numbers point of view. Pure economics. The Oompa Loompas work in the factory. They are not paid. They never leave the factory. That means they don't pay rent. They don't buy groceries. They don't go to the movies, or take taxis ,or buy clothes. But *everyone* buys Wonka's chocolate. That means that money goes into the factory, but it doesn't come back out into the town. As a result, the local economy is crap. And it's because of this that Charlie's dad can't get a decent job. What's more, it's because of this that his dad *loses* his shitty job, and his family is starving to death. Willie Wonka isn't a childlike magic maker. He's a billionaire corporate fuckwit. He's the candy equivalent of Monsanto. There's no government oversight there. Osha would never have approved that bullshit boiled sweet boat and chocolate river. No. Dude is untouchable. And don't tell me he isn't. That shit that goes on with the other kids? Nobody even *thinks* of suing him. None of the parents even *hint* at it. He probably owns half the judges in the state, and a handful of senators, too. He's a fucking supervillian. And I would paid serious money to see a story where Batman kicks his ass. *End Rant* In closing, let me share something that Oot said while I was reading him this book: "Dad, Willie Wonka is just a regular human, but he *is* a little bit of a wizard like you."
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