Sunday, November 7, 2010

Book Twelve - Charlie And The Chocolate Factory - Part Two

This is a delightful book. The story is equal parts sweetness and vengeance which I suppose is what children like. I don’t remember being all that into revenge when I was a child, but I may have been. I definitely remember hearing that you reap what you sow and there is lots of that in this book.

Near the end of the book, Willie Wonka rants that television is ruining the lives of children. He proposes that parents not allow a television in the home and recommends filling the empty spot in the living room with overflowing bookshelves. He asserts that if there were no television, children would read more. I disagree with his basic premise.

First, should we really trust the welfare of children to a man who makes candy for a living? Putting that aside, this is a theoretical argument which involves, in my opinion, faulty logic. Some people do not enjoy reading just as some people do not enjoy football, some dancing, and some dislike red meat. It follows that without television, some children would read more but others would not; the children who don’t like to read would find other ways to occupy their time. This is not a new phenomenon. There were people who didn’t enjoy reading before television or computer games or the internet or even radio. In fact, we have literary confirmation of this. There is no evidence that Mrs. Bennet from Pride and Prejudice ever picked up a book. She spends her time on “visiting and news.” Emma Woodhouse is always meaning to read more, but it remains an intention. In Bleak House, Esther doesn’t read. Granted, she describes herself as not very bright, but rather than try to improve her dim little mind by reading she spends her time jangling keys, seeing to others, and embroidering endless ornaments for the home. For that matter, Ada in Bleak House doesn’t read, nor does Richard. Of course, Richard is an irresponsible dunderhead, but these are examples which spring to mind immediately. Actually, I don’t recall Charlie, the hero of Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, picking up a book.

I realize this notion of mine would open a can of worms in some quarters (or as Chandler Bing would say, “Can open – worms everywhere”) but that’s my opinion. Yes, some television is crap. Some books are crap, too. My policy with pretty much everything is to avoid the crap. (I wish I could come up with a pithier way of saying that, but there you are.)

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