Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

posted 01 August 2005


I saw C&tCF on Sunday. It was an absolutely delightful movie. Tim Burton's visuals were predictably wonderful, beautiful and organic and thoroughly believable even when what they were trying to get you to believe in was a chocolate waterfall and edible grass.

Even the songs -- something I was, frankly, hoping they would leave out entirely -- managed to be almost totally un-cringeworthy. The oompa-loompas were brilliantly done, and solving the problem of creating a whole race of dwarfs by endlessly cloning the same one was a master stroke. Importantly, they were also not orange with green hair, an absolutely bizarre deviation from the book that really annoyed me in the original movie (amongst a large number of other things I hated about that movie, such as Gene Wilder, Gene Wilder's hair, Gene Wilder's voice, and did I mention Gene Wilder?).

The flashbacks to Wonka’s childhood, and the addition of an entire sub-plot about Wonka's father, were however unwelcome. The original book has a decidedly anti-parent theme: in the book, Willy Wonka almost entirely usurps the role of grandpa Joe, who in turn had mainly usurped the role of Charlie’s father. The story is all about how doing whatever seems like a good idea at the time, without consulting anybody, often works out for the best. It’s a great message of independence and self-reliance.

This movie, however, makes it all about how bloody important your family are to you and how you should love them and cuddle them and blah blah blah Disney blah. The reason Dahl’s books were so great is precisely because they were a little bit subversive; they had lessons in them that your parents would probably rather not teach you. That was why you read them endlessly; there was the delicious tang of forbidden fruit. I resent them taking that bit of magic away.

But Burton's undoubted genius is enough to compensate.

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The Big List Of Totally Inappropriate Occasions on which George W. Bush has used the phrase "hate freedom"

posted 01 August 2005

We all know George Bush talks about terrorism every chance he can get. It's his favourite thing to talk about; it's the only area of policy where he seems to even remotely know what he's doing (which, given the state of Iraq, is a pretty sad commentary on everything else that he's done). So, inspired by a Wonkette post today, I went browsing for all the times Dubya has used the phrase "hate freedom" in an official capacity. What rapidly emerged is that Dubya doesn't mention the threat of global terrorism merely often, he mentions it every freaking time he opens his mouth. To illustrate the point, disregarding the vast number of speeches he has made that are actually about terrorism, I have compiled a list of totally improbable occasions when G.W. has found a way to slip his favourite phrase in there somehow.

George W. Bush has mentioned the phrase "hate freedom" while discussing...

  • The Washington State economy (to be fair, a reporter asked him a question about Iraq)
  • Greek Independence (loosely tied to the idea that Greece invented democracy, and you know who hates democracy? Terrorists.)
  • Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (the twin towers were designed by an Asian. And you know who blew up the twin towers? Terrorists.)
  • Home ownership (direct quote, I'm not making this up: "you know what they hate? They hate the idea that somebody can go buy a home.")
  • North Carolina's economy (you lost your jobs because the economy tanked. You know why the economy tanked? Terrorists.)
  • Job training (you need job training because you lost your jobs. You know why you lost your jobs? See above.)
  • The War on Drugs (he doesn't even make the tenuous drugs-support-terrorism link. Instead he goes for the direct approach: the fight against drugs is a war. You know another war we're fighting now? The war on terrorism, that's what.)
  • Physical Fitness for Senior Citizens (he doesn't even try to make a link. He just launches into his terrorism paragraphs with only a cursory "I want to talk about...")
  • Hispanic education (education makes our nation more secure. You know what also makes our nation secure? The new department of homeland security. You know why we need a new department of homeland security? Terrorists.)
  • Yet more education and job training (education makes us stronger. You know why we need to be stronger? Because we were attacked. You know who attacked us? etc.)
  • Tax relief (I swear to god, his link is: tax relief is a priority in this country. You know what another priority in this country is? Terrorism.)
  • Housing and the economy (this one is really tortured, but it's: home ownership is complicated, so we're making it simpler, which is good for the economy, and you know what else is good for the economy? Security. And you know how we make America secure? By fighting terrorism.)
  • Russia and a free market economy (in response to a question about the image of Russia in America, and how this influences foreign policy, the answer is basically: we love Russia, because they help us fight terrorism.)
  • Labor day (this one's awesome: we have the day off today. You know who else has the day off today? Soldiers. You know what soldiers do when it isn't their day off? Fight terrorists.)
  • Women in business (women in business help the economy. And you know why the economy needs helping? Because we were attacked. And you know who attacked us?)
  • First responders (they're prepared for emergencies. Emergencies could happen at any moment. One of those emergencies could be caused by terrorists!)
  • Personal Reemployment Accounts (we want you to get a job, and that's a challenge. You know what's another challenge we face? Oh yeah, terrorism.)
  • And my personal favourite...
    The Cattle Industry (dear lord, I wish I was making these up by this point, but: "cattlemen and women represent American values. The terrorists thought American values were soft. They'd obviously never been to a National Cattlemen's Convention! (applause)" )

Frankly, it's amazing. No matter what the occasion, he manages to make some kind of tenuous link to the threat of global terrorism. And from that, he launches into a stock paragraph or two about terror, and then it's only a matter of time before freedom-hatin' gets mentioned. I should do another one of these for the phrase "cold-blooded killers", too.