Media Monday: The Genius of Roald Dahl

While channel surfing last week with the grand-daughters, we caught the beginning of the 1971 movie Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory which was based on Dahl’s book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

I don’t know why the producers felt the name change was necessary.

wwcfCharlie is clearly the protagonist. He’s the character with the most to lose, he’s the one who changes throughout the story. charlie

But I digress.

The movie holds up well, even after forty years.

I was impressed with how presciently Dahl created the other Golden Ticket winners.

There’s a couch potato who watches hours of television every day. mike





augustusThere’s an overeater, an obese child on his way to an unhealthy life as a adult.



There’s a selfish and spoiled brat whose parents indulged her every whim.

violet                                             veruca_salt

Actually, there’s two of those, both girls.

The movie was released in 1971 but the book it’s based on was published in 1964. That’s fifty years ago. Five. Oh. 50.


Fast forward to today.

                                                What are the concerns about kids in 2014?

  • Childhood obesity.
  • Too much time playing/watching electronics, and not enough playing.
  • Child-centric parenting that produces perpetual children instead of self-reliant adults.

I stand by my original premise: Roald Dahl was a genius.

Actually though, a deeper analysis reveals a bigger truth:

The cultural and societal mores Dahl observed in the early 1960s would logically lead to children just like Violet, Mike, Augustus, and Veruca.

We’re reaping the practices we began to sow in the middle of the last century.

The way back is still possible.

  • Raise children to recognize personal responsibility.
  • Read to them.
  • Encourage imaginative play.

Especially introduce them to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.