Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Oompa-Loompas Were Black?

Apparently the Oompa-Loompas in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory used to be black pygmies but got turned white in later editions. That is not actually the point of the article linked.

The point of the article is to ask whether censoring a children's book can remove its prejudices and if it's right to do so.

In the case of Willy Wonka's slavery being shifted, I'm going to say I'd side with the changed version. As I understood it when my sister read it to me many, many years ago, Oompa-Loompas liked living in the factory and came from Loompaland in big boxes with holes so they could breathe. And that was okay; that made sense to me as a kid and was still entertaining. I went through most of my life thinking Willy Wonka was, if somewhat callous, at least at the core a decent guy. (It probably helped that I never saw the film version with the psychedelic boat trip, which was downright scary and there was a dead guy, what the heck was with that trauma?) I had plenty of time to learn about racism and slavery when I'd aged up a little more.

See also bowdlerising, named for Thomas Bowdler, 'to expurgate (a written work) by removing or modifying passages considered vulgar or objectionable.'


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