Sent by Jonathan Stark on April 22nd, 2019
For some unknown reason, my five year old decided to turn our basement into a “movie theatre” this weekend. She taped an OPEN sign to the wall, made paper tickets, prepared snacks, dimmed the lights... the whole deal.
So... I spent a big portion of the last 24 hours in a darkened room eating pretzels and watching kids movies: Tangled (once), Zootopia (twice), and the original Willie Wonka from 1971 (also twice).
As you might suspect, it was my idea to watch Wonka. I loved it as a kid and thought it’d be kitchy but... TBH I didn’t really think it’d hold the kiddo’s attention after the more modern Disney flicks.
Oh how wrong I was. Not only did she hang on every word, she wanted to re-watch it immediately after it ended. It was bedtime so I said No but the next day she asked for it again so, okay... we watched it a second time.
Funny thing about that movie... My biggest memories of it were Wonka’s somersault entrance, Agustus getting stuck in the tube, Violet turning into a blueberry, that trippy boat ride, the oompa loompas, and the Wonkavator.
But none of that happens until the second half of the movie. Almost the entire first half of the movie is about the world being engulfed by the “Wonka mania” craze created by the search for the five golden tickets.
If you don’t know the story, here’s the tl;dr from Google:
A sweet boy from a poor family dreams of finding one of five golden tickets hidden inside chocolate bar wrappers which will admit him to the eccentric and reclusive Willy Wonka’s magical factory. One after another, tickets are discovered by ghastly children - but will the lad find the last remaining one and have all his dreams come true?
So yeah... almost the entire first half of this classic film is about a marketing stunt. But actually... “stunt” is an unfair characterization. “Stunt” makes it sounds like a bad thing - like a trick. Or smoke and mirrors.
Because without this “stunt”, the movie falls apart. The “stunt” is what creates the anticipation and excitement and dreams. Without the “stunt”, nobody would probably even notice (much less care) that some guy named Willie decided to give a factory tour.
Without the “stunt”, there is no emotion.
Here’s the thing...
It’s not a stunt.
It’s a story.
It’s something worth taking about. It’s something worth sharing. It’s something people will say “remember when...?” about twenty years after.
Sure, you could take a cynical view and say that it’s just something Wonka made up to sell candy. And certainly, there are endless examples of lazy marketers and shallow bands using hyperbole and sensationalism in support of a crass money grab.
But it doesn’t HAVE to be like that. Intentions make all the difference. If you bring generosity and empathy and authenticity to your story - if it’s real - magic can happen.
Kinda like a five year old turning the basement into a theater to lure Dad to the couch for a movie marathon. I doubt either of us will ever forget it.
I know I won’t.
“We are the music makers. We are the dreamers of dreams.”—Willie Wonka
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