Sunday Morning: Giving Willy Wonka a Backstory was a Mistake



Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to

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3 Responses

  1. Avatar Jaybird says:

    This scene has some *GREAT* stuff in it:

    It communicates that Willy Wonka doesn’t like Mike TeeVee very much.
    It gives the scene in the candy warzone where Mike asks why the somewhat overwrought candy creation processes that Willy Wonka’s factory engages in are “pointless” and Charlie points out that “candy doesn’t have to have a point” and Willy Wonka smiles and knows that Charlie gets it.

    And there’s even a brilliant “Candy is a waste of time” line from Mike and…


    Everything falls apart after that.

    Well, the “mumbler!” scene was really good.Report

  2. To be fair, it was a much smaller mistake than giving Hannibal Lecter a backstory.

    (What’s the most hackneyed way to make Hannibal Lecter relatable?

    The real bad guys were Nazis.

    Good call. )Report


    Giving a background story is part of the homogenization of western culture.

    Peter Parker wouldn’t be Spider-Man if he didn’t think “Not my problem” and let the thief escape.

    Now with the latest reboot of Spider-Man, Peter Parker is Spider-Man because he’s a Parker. His father died and was unable to take advantage of being bitten by a radioactive spider. Nobody else could become Spider-Man unless they were of the Parker bloodline. The lesson of “With great responsibility” is now wholly diluted, Peter Parker was destined to become Spider-Man much in the same way Oedipus was destined to kill his father and marry his mother.

    And the story isn’t any different nor does it play upon the concepts of fate and destiny. Still a shallow, comic book film.

    On the bright side, the new Spider-Man origin says something about Hollywood. There are creators who want to tell their stories!

    But boardrooms are telling them to use established properties rather than hassle them with new properties and their legal and marketing issues.

    With background stories being the same across the board, with minor differences, diminishes an audience’s participation. The audience is there to involve a little bit of themselves in the characters and the plot, making it relatable to them. Instead Hollywood’s demanding, “THIS IS THE STORY, THERE ARE NO OTHER STORIES.” Unless the new story doesn’t sell, necessitating yet another reboot.

    Hollywood doesn’t create anything new. Their marketers make potent arguments to shovel the same crap year-in and year-out, but their arguments are becoming thinner than the plots imagined by Disney’s wunderkinds who might’ve had the potential to be the next Scorsese, Spielberg, Lucas, or Coppola before being shackled to hoary old properties in hopes of ensuring the revenue of some conglomerate.

    P.S. Tim Burton is a hack, playing on visuals but going light on story. Edward Scissorhands was a fluke and everything else is merely Danny Elfman, pastel colors, sprinkled with a little dark humor but not enough to scare children like the original Willy Wonka or Planet of the Apes.Report