Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Watching the Disney Channel

You wouldn't guess how I spent the last two hours: watching the Disney Channel, which was broadcasting their 2005 Johnny Depp version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. A long time ago I read a short story in the Atlantic Monthly, I think, about a woman who had come to hate her husband and murdered him with a frozen leg of lamb when he came home, then offered the local police supper when they came to investigate... When I was teaching at St. Hilda's my Grade 8 (age ± 13) students introduced me to Dahl again, and the story had to do with pygmies (we had been reading The Forest People), or what I took for pygmies. Considering what liberties Tim Burton and Disney studios mighe take, it may have been the original Willy Wonka. I don't mind Dahl's apparent point of view, a price to be paid for his imagination. Even the Johnny Depp Willy Wonka was good (I had never seen a Johnny Depp movie before). Grade 8 in 1970 adored Dahl. Since then even Maurice Sendak has been put on the Index of Forbidden Children's Books. But my Grade 8 was as varied as the United Nations, and none of them made the elementary literary error of confusing a cautionary tale with a documentary!