Tuesday, December 30, 2008

J'Accuse!: Grandpa Joe

I noticed that we are in the waning final days of this month (and this year overall) and I am a bit off my usual self imposed ten post a month quota. Seeing that, like everybody else, I'm hustling to get all my shit packed and done by the end of the year. So, rejoice lucky blog readers, from here on out it's going to be some strenuous two-a-days (possibly three) to hopefully make up the deficits. I assure you all however, that my trademark commitment to quality and blogging excellence will still be maintained despite the rushed schedule. I actually did have a few ideas in the hopper that I was planning on getting to before all the testing and the failing and the crying sidetracked me for the better part of the month.

One such thing I was getting around to was starting up my series of personal "J'Accuse!"'s. For all of those people out there not familiar with Emile Zola and the whole "Dreyfus Affair", basically it's in reference to famous published open letter by Emile Zola in 1898 where he called out the French government over unfairly imprisoning a Jewish army officer for treason. As the wikipedia article says, the phrase "J'Accuse" (french for "I accuse") has become a common expression for essentially calling shenanigans on something. That's about all I know about the Dreyfus Affair (probably just enough to get a low value Jeopardy question right about it), if you really want to know more it can't hurt to put "The Life of Emile Zola" on your Netflix queue (best picture winner 1937!). So basically as Emile Zola called shenanigans on the anti-semetic French government, so will I call my own personal shenanigans on the random pop culture esoterica that bother me.

This leads me to the subject of Grandpa Joe (played by Jack Albertson) from the classic 1971 film, "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory".

Here's the situation. You've got kind-hearted Charlie Bucket, his toiling mother, and their four bedridden grandparents. They live in a home that appears to be just a slight step up from a makeshift fort of empty refrigerator boxes. The father is dead so the mother and Charlie slave everyday doing laundry and delivering papers, respectively, just to eek out mere subsistence. They are further trapped in their dire life of unofficial serfdom by the ludicrous burden of supporting the four worthless, bedridden, elderly, grandparents. Charlie is so poor, he has to scrimp and save for a year to support the simple "luxury" of buying a single chocolate bar.

My problem with Grandpa Joe begins when the deserving Charlie finds the fifth and final winning Golden Ticket to meet Willy Wonka at his factory and comes home with the news. After verifying the validity of the ticket, Charlie asks Grandpa Joe, who has been bedridden for 20 years, to be his guest to the factory. Motivated by the passion of the young Charlie, Grandpa Joe, after some initial struggling, manages to get up from his bed. He then somehow manages to shake off the muscular atrophy and bed sores of twenty years of immobility to get into a full song and dance routine!

If I were Charlie or even his mother, at the point after which Grandpa Joe completes his little "I've Got A Golden Ticket" number, I would cold cock him right in his smug old face. This fucking goldbricker, for twenty years has been holding out while his grandson and daughter worked themselves into exhaustion! How does he even sleep at night? You think he would have pulled off a similar miraculous recovery if Charlie came home with a copy of the local want ads with an opening for a job at Willy Wonka's factory? Would he have jitterbugged around the room singing "I've Got A Job Prospect"? Of course not! He would have sat on his lazy ass like he did for the past 20 years, feigning paralysis. If this is the case with Grandpa Joe, I suspect maybe the three other grandparents aren't really as enfeebled as they appear to be. But, atleast they never were proven in the movie to be total phonies.

In addition, if I was the mom I'd be wondering what exactly is Grandpa Joe bringing to the table that Charlie would pick him over her. It's obvious that Grandpa has some sort of undue influence on Charlie to have him initially select him over his poor mother. Who has almost single handedly supported this burdensome family for all these years? Who gave birth and raised him? Who previously devoted an entire musical number in the movie to him? Who has the confirmed ability to walk normally? Notice how Grandpa just swoops right in there and without even considering deferring to anyone else starts singing about "his golden ticket".

While I do love this movie and find that recent sham of a remake to somehow manage to be both creepy and uninteresting at the same time; I will always have a slight problem in the back of my mind every time Grandpa Joe miraculously gets up and does his crazy little number. Obviously there is a high degree of suspension of disbelief to be granted in a movie with Oompa Loompas, psychedelic boat rides, landscapes made of candy, blueberry children, and flying elevators; but I just can't give it up for Grandpa Joe that easily. How can I support this monster of a man who sat back and watched his loving family work themselves ragged while he had the ability to be of help the whole time? Grandpa Joe, I'll still enjoy your song (in fact it's probably my favorite song from the movie) and be glad that you and Charlie didn't get chopped to pieces in the fizzy lifting drinks room, but as for your goldbricking actions I simply have to say "J'Accuse!"


  1. http://www.saynotogrampajoe.com/ratbag/slacker.php

  2. Wow, how disturbingly thorough.

    That's what I love about the internet, no matter how marginal or esoteric your view is, you can always find someone else who shares it.