Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Gender

Body Impolitic went to the movies. Specifically, we went to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory … and so should you.

We have a good deal to say about the movie (and not too much about the fat stereotypes, because we’d be preaching to the choir).

Our detailed comments will come.

Meanwhile, we were thinking about Willy Wonka and gender. You could call Johnny Depp’s Wonka “genderless,” but is that what’s really going on? Or is the character just not typically “masculine,” and do we read that as genderless–or feminine–because the character is known to be male? Or is he “childlike,” not yet set in gender, the same way that a three-year-old is? Or is the audience seeing body and gender stereotypes, instead of Depp’s complex signals? Or is Willy’s gender “chocolate”?

Have you seen it? What do you think?

6 thoughts on “Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Gender

  1. not really about gender, sorry,

    You can’t really do a faithful rendition of Dahl that’s Body Impolitic friendly, sadly (sadly because I love Dahl, and because this movie — which I saw last night, was wonderful). One of his trademarks is giving wicked people body shapes outside the norm. So in Fantastic Mr. Fox, you have three villains who are “one stout, one short, one lean”. The Twits are hairy and ugly. The Witches have hideously ugly faces, claws, and no toes. Matilda’s father has bad teeth; her mother has a bad dye job and “one of those unfortunate bulging figures where the flesh appears to be strapped in all around the body to prevent it from falling out”.

    That isn’t to say that all people who are particularly fat or thin or tall or short art evil. Some people can be causally plump or wispily slender. But Dahl uses grotesque or extreme descriptions of body types to represent wickedness, venality, villainy, and stupidity.

  2. Your comment got me and then Deb thinking about body image, stereotypes, archtypes fairy tales and childhood. We’ll be blogging about it later in the week.


  3. Hi Laurie and debbie,

    I’m not sure this blog conversation is still running, but could you please explain what you mean by his ‘gender is chocolate’?


  4. Natacha,

    Our longer review “Chocolate Gender and Sweet Families https://laurietobyedison.com/discuss/?p=29 talks about the gender aspects more fully.

    We said among other things “Chocolate” seems as good a name as any for this child-gender-in-adult pattern: no definitive gender choices in dress and appearance (make-up and jewelry balanced by presentation and stance); childlike interests and childlike values.”

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