Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Lost Corners: Violet Beauregarde historical revisionism

An amusing but compellingly relevant piece written by a woman named Evayna is making its way around back corners of the Internet. It's titled "Violet Beauregarde should've won Wonka's chocolate factory" and it makes a damn fine case for Violet as the should-have-been hero of 1971's Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.

Evayna, who lives in Canada, describes herself as "a friendly pseudo-intellectual into nerd stuff and intersectional feminism." Her interests include Steven Universe, cute animals and veggie food.

She makes a tremendous case for gum-chomping and doomed-to-be-a-blueberry Violet Beauregarde. I am inclined to agree with her. Wonka eventually gave the factory to a rule-breaking white male, perpetuating societal gender norms. Violet was the best choice, and she was batted down and held back because of some perception that gum-chewing is a serious vice and, worse, because she was a woman who was willing to speak her mind. (Also, she didn't have the godawful song "Cheer Up, Charlie" associated with her.)

Here's Evayna's full argument, which I'm reposting here to help boost its chances of surviving the test of time.
Violet Beauregarde should've won
Wonka's chocolate factory

Have I watched the movie in the last decade or more? No.
Do I have iron clad evidence to support my argument? Yes.

1. She's the most knowledgeable about candy. She's committed to it, and knows her stuff. When Wonka holds up a little yellow piece across the room, she recognizes it immediately. She was able to switch to candy bars for the sake of the contest, so we know she has personal discipline and is goal oriented. Also, two major projects play directly into her strong suits: the 3-course-meal gum that Wonka failed to make safe (gum) and the neverending gobstopper (longevity).

2. She's the most fit to run a business. Violet is competitive, determined, hard working, and willing to take risks. Her father is a small town car salesman and politician, so she could easily pick up knowledge and support from him. (Veruca's dad is also a business man, and in a compatible market (nuts), but it's made very clear that Veruca has no respect or knowledge of business practices or hard work.)

3. She's the most sympathetic to the Oompa Loompas. She critiques Veruca when Veruca demands to buy one. More importantly, Wonka has been testing the 3-course-meal gum that 'always goes wrong' on Oompa Loompas while he presumably just watches. Violet is ready to put herself on the front line, instead of treating the Oompa Loompas as disposable, and would therefore be a better boss.

4. Her personality 'flaw' is the most fitting for the company. In the moralizing Oompa Loompa song, they just say 'gum is pretty cool, but it's not socially acceptable to chew it all day'. The thing is, we already know that she can stop if she wants, because she already did that to win the golden ticket. And yeah, she is defensive about the perceived impoliteness of her hobby (like when her mother tries to shame her about her habit during a televised interview) but the obsession with candy and neglect of social norms is EXACTLY what Wonka is all about. This is on brand.

5. Her misstep in the factory is reasonable. Wonka shows everyone a candy he’s very proud of. Violet is like “oh sick, that's gum, my special interest.” Wonka then pulls a “WRONG! It’s amazing gum!” In the very moments before she takes the gum Wonka has mislead her just to belittle her. So when he's like “I wouldn’t do that” why should she give a shit what he has to say? She's not like Charlie over here who's all “Sure Gramps, let's stay behind while the tour leaves and secretly drink this thing that has been explicitly stated to fill you with gas and is too powerful for safe consumption, oh and also I just saw what happened to Violet so I actually KNOW what this stuff can be capable of.” Also, Violet is not selfish about her experience, she tells everyone what she's tasting and feeling, and everyone is eager to hear it. Taking a personal risk to share knowledge with everyone. Violet is Prometheus: fact.

So Augustus contaminates the chocolate river. Charlie sneaks around and contaminates the vent walls. Veruca destroys and disrupts the workspace. Mike knows exactly what will happen to him and transports/shrinks himself deliberately. Violet had no idea what the gum could potentially do to her, and caused no harm to anyone or anything but herself.

Lastly: Can you imagine Charlie filling Wonka's shoes? That passive, naive boy? Violet is already basically Wonka. She's passionate, sarcastic, candy-obsessed, free thinking, and a total firecracker. She's even better than Wonka, because she doesn't endanger others.

Violet should've been picked to inherit the chocolate factory.

1 comment:

  1. Arthur Slugworth, as the only known human employee of the Wonka enterprise, and as the most trustworthy agent sent on the most secret mission without which the entire Golden Ticket tour would have been rendered nugatory, has arguments in his favor to succeed Wonka.

    Indeed, neither Charlie Bucket nor Violet Beauregarde was of legal age to contract for private ownership of a factory, and with consistent OSHA violations, to boot. What ever was Wonka thinking...?!?

    See: https://www.cinemablend.com/new/40-Years-Later-Charlie-Hiring-Still-Willy-Wonka-Greatest-Failure-25480.html