chapter  16
12 Pages

Post-Fordist Nation: The Economics of Childhood and the New Global Citizenship


In Tim Burton’s 2005 fi lm adaptation of Roald Dahl’s 1964 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Johnny Depp’s Willy Wonka says to Charlie, “And you. Well, you’re just lucky to be here, aren’t you?” portraying a more caustic Wonka than Dahl’s original 1964 literary version or Gene Wilder’s 1971 fi lm portrayal. (In the 1964 novel, Wonka simply greets Charlie and acknowledges that he found the ticket “Just in time” (60), while in Mel Stuart’s 1971 fi lm version Wonka states, “I’m so happy for you [Charlie]” upon fi rst meeting Charlie.) This seemingly cold statement, however, highlights Charlie’s poverty and the idea that Charlie is different from the other child winners on the level of class, privilege, and consumption practices. Burton’s version adapts the story as much as it analyzes representations of systems of capital in Dahl’s classic children’s text: in this particular moment, Charlie’s rags-to-riches story is not a fairy-tale transformation based on good behavior but a story about the child of capitalism. From 1964 to 2005, Dahl’s text and its two fi lm adaptations trace the development of post-Fordist economic practices on the level of both consumption and production, and the role of the child subject as a global citizen under late capitalism. While the text is British in its publication, Dahl represents more the importance of the child’s participation in a global system and is less concerned with particular national identities.