Taika Waititi is one of the most creative, talented directors currently working in Hollywood, and Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is one of the most beloved children's books of all time.

So naturally, Taika Waititi helming two animated Charlie and the Chocolate Factory series for Netflix should be a match made in heaven, right? Well, maybe we should slow down a bit first.

Taika Waititi Premiere Of Disney's "The Lion King" - Arrivals Getty Images

On one hand, Taika Waititi has proven himself as a genuine auteur, capable of stamping his signature shade of irreverence on everything from original indie comedies like Hunt for the Wilderpeople to blockbuster Marvel films like Thor: Ragnorok to book adaptations like JoJo Rabbit. But here's the problem: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory already has a definitive adaptation––Tim Burton's 2005 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory starring Johnny Depp.

There's no doubt that whatever Waititi chooses to do with the franchise will be fun, imaginative, and patently him. The issue is that, no matter how good it is, it can never live up to the best possible version of the story, which features traditionally handsome actor Johnny Depp wearing very white makeup and pretending to be a germaphobe. Undoubtedly, no actor could possibly step into Willy Wonka's shoes with the same gravitas as Depp. (In fact, Hollywood rumor has it that some former actor who played Willy Wonka in an older adaptation quit the industry after seeing Depp's performance and realizing that his own paled in comparison).

Perhaps best known for turning Dahl's book into a fantastical musical, Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory features a slew of memorable songs that have stuck with viewers for an entire generation. As each of the rotten children fall victim to their own character flaws during the tour of Willy Wonka's chocolate factory, the Oompa-Loompa songs serve as eulogies, instilling viewers with morality lessons that they can carry with them through their life journey.

If you watched that video closely, you might notice one of the boldest directorial choices that Burton made for his film: All of the Oompa-Loompas are played by the same person! Through the use of flawless digital effects and split screen photography, Burton was able to capture actor Deep Roy performing the roles of dozens of little orange men. And while Roy may not have won the Oscar he deserved for such a diverse array of character work, at least he gets bragging rights for being in the greatest Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie ever made.

Unfortunately for Taika Waititi and Netflix, no amount of talent can surmount the sheer impossibility of conquering an everlasting classic. The truth that Hollywood still fails to realize is that sometimes there's an artwork so stupendous, so memorable, and so definitive that it really doesn't need to ever be rebooted. Even if Waititi creates an adaptation that feels surprising and original, people will still say, "Yeah, that's okay, but is it as good as the 2005 Tim Burton version?" Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory had it all––the songs, the sense of wonder, Johnny Deep feigning mental issues. Waititi is welcome to reach for the stars, but he might just miss and find himself falling into a chocolate river.


Nazi-Chic: The Aesthetics of Fascism

Let's take a look at Nazi-inspired fashion.

Villains always have the best outfits.

From Darth Vader's polished black space armor to The Joker's snazzy purple suit, bad guys always seem to show up their protagonists in the fashion department.

Way more handsome than Batman.

But could there possibly be a real world equivalent to the type of over-the-top villain fashion often found in fiction? It would have to be sleek and imposing, austere and dangerous. Probably black.

Maybe it's him. Maybe it's fascist ideology.

Oh, right.

Let's call a spade a spade. From an aesthetic standpoint, the Nazi SS outfit is very well-designed. The long coat tied around the waist with a buckle portrays a slim, sturdy visage. The leather boots and matching cap look harsh and powerful. The emblem placements on the lapel naturally suggest rank and authority. And the red armband lends a splash of color to what would otherwise be a dark monotone. If the Nazi uniform wasn't so closely tied with the atrocities they committed during WWII, it wouldn't seem out of place at Fashion Week. Perhaps not too surprising, considering many of the uniforms were made by Hugo Boss.

Pictured: A real thing Hugo Boss did.

Of course, today, Nazi uniform aesthetics are inseparable from the human suffering doled out by their wearers. In most circles of civilized society, that's more than enough reason to avoid the garb in any and all fashion choices. But for some, that taboo isn't a hindrance at all–if anything, it's an added benefit.

As a result, we have Nazi chic, a fashion trend centered around the SS uniform and related Nazi imagery.

History of Nazi Chic

For the most part, Nazi chic is not characterized by Nazi sympathy. Rather, Nazi chic tends to be associated with counterculture movements that view the use of its taboo imagery as a form of shock value, and ironically, anti-authoritarianism.

The movement came to prominence in the British punk scene during the mid-1970s, with bands like the Sex Pistols and Siouxsie and the Banshees displaying swastikas on their attire alongside other provocative imagery.

Very rotten, Johnny.

Around this time, a film genre known as Nazisploitation also came to prominence amongst underground movie buffs. A subgenre of exploitation and sexploitation films, Naziploitation movies skewed towards D-grade fare, characterized by graphic sex scenes, violence, and gore. Plots typically surrounded female prisoners in concentration camps, subject to the sexual whims of evil SS officers, who eventually escaped and got their revenge. However, the most famous Nazisploitation film, Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS, flipped the genders.

The dorm room poster that will ensure you never get laid.

Ilsa was a female SS officer and the victims were men. She spent much of the movie wearing her Nazi uniform in various states, sexually abusing men all the while. As such, Ilsa played into dominatrix fantasies. The movie was a hit on the grindhouse circuit, inspiring multiple sequels and knock-offs and solidifying Nazi aesthetics as a part of the BDSM scene.

Since then, Nazi chic fashion has been employed by various artists, from Madonna to Marilyn Manson to Lady Gaga, and has shown up in all sorts of places from leather clubs to character designs in video games and anime.

Lady Gaga looking SS-uper.

Nazi Chic in Asia

Nazi chic has taken on a life of its own in Asia. And unlike Western Nazi chic, which recognizes Nazism as taboo, Asian Nazi chic seems entirely detached from any underlying ideology.

A large part of this likely has to do with the way that Holocaust education differs across cultures. In the West, we learn about the Holocaust in the context of the Nazis committing horrific crimes against humanity that affected many of our own families. The Holocaust is presented as personal and closer to our current era than we might like to think. It is something we should "never forget." Whereas in Asia, where effects of the Holocaust weren't as prominent, it's simply another aspect of WWII which, in and of itself, was just another large war. In other words, Nazi regalia in Asia might be viewed as simply another historical military outfit, albeit a particularly stylish one.

In Japan, which was much more involved with WWII than any other Asian country, Nazi chic is usually (but not always) reserved for villainous representations.


That being said, J-Pop groups like Keyakizaka46 have publicly worn Nazi chic too, and the phenomena isn't limited to Japan.

In South Korea, Indonesia, and Thailand, Nazi imagery has shown up in various elements of youth culture, completely void of any moral context. For instance, in Indonesia, a Hitler-themed fried chicken restaurant opened in 2013. And in Korea, K-Pop groups like BTS and Pritz have been called out for propagating Nazi chic fashion. Usually such incidents are followed by public apologies, but the lack of historical understanding makes everything ring hollow.


So the question then: is Nazi chic a bad thing?

The answer is not so black and white.

On one hand, seeing Nazi chic on the fashion scene may dredge up painful memories for Holocaust survivors and those whose family histories were tainted. In this light, wearing Nazi-inspired garb, regardless of intent, seems disrespectful and antagonistic. Worse than that, it doesn't even seem like a slight against authority so much as a dig at actual victims of genocide.

But on the other hand, considering the fact that even the youngest people who were alive during WWII are edging 80, "forgetting the Holocaust" is a distinct possibility for younger generations. In that regard, perhaps anything that draws attention to what happened, even if it's simply through the lens of "this outfit should be seen as offensive," might not be entirely bad. This, compounded by the fact that Nazi chic is not commonly associated with actual Nazi or nationalistic sentiments, might be enough to sway some people–not necessarily to wear, like, or even appreciate its aesthetics, but rather to understand its place within counterculture.

Ultimately, one's views on Nazi chic likely come down to their own personal taste and sensibilities. For some, Nazi chic is just a style, an aesthetic preference for something that happens to be mired in historical horror. For others, the shadow of atrocity simply hangs too strong.


Enjoy Broadway's best magic tricks in 'Charlie & the Chocolate Factory'

REVIEW | The new musical uses illusions and special effects to recreate Wonka's factory onstage


The jokes and songs are for kids but Wonka's stage tricks will make anyone smile.

Broadway is now a contender for the sweetest place on Earth, thanks to a wondrous new musical adaptation of Roald Dahl's 1964 novel, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Starring a hilarious Christian Borle as Willy Wonka and with music by Marc Shaiman of Hairspray, the show brings the magic of Willy Wonka's factory to the live stage in clever and fun ways.

You probably know the Golden Ticket story from the Gene Wilder movie or the Johnny Depp remake, or maybe you've even read the novel. As is often the problem with remakes, the Charlie Bucket finds a Golden Ticket pre-story is considerably less fun the third time around. The show tries to make up for this with a ultra-goofy Grandpa Joe (John Rubinstein) and his three elderly backup jokesters, but it's still a bit boring waiting for Charlie and the others to at last reach the Wonka factory.

It takes all of Act One for that to happen but when Willy Wonka finally takes the stage, his wacky, hyper, exciting presence saves the show and, ultimately, makes sitting through the first half worth it.

Christian Borle's performance is inspired more by Robin Williams and Nathan Lane than Gene Wilder. He is far from Johnny Depp's low-key psychopathic Wonka and prefers over-the-top jokes and caricature impressions to subtle strangeness or quiet creeping. There is no glint of murderous intent in his eyes, or descent into hell; instead, Borle's performance is aimed directly at the kids in the audience. Slapstick, goofy and light, this Wonka's jokes come straight from a career character-actor, and a good one.

Borle's credits include the original Not Dead Fred/Herbert/French Guard in Spamalot, a Tony-winning William Shakespeare in Something Rotten and a Tony-winning Black Stache in Peter and the Starcatcher. In Charlie, he is the star and the engine of the fun.

The music is average—it'll please the kids in the audience but it's nothing new. However, Broadway's Wonka factory loses none of its magic to a lack of Hollywood CGI. The stage show is full of clever tricks and illusions to match its movie forebears, like when Bad Child #4, Mike Teavee (an obnoxious juvenile delinquent obsessed with teenage technology: smartphone, drones, etc. The American Gods Technical Boy, minus the vape), jumps into Wonka's machine and sends himself into the TV, miniaturized. After dancing from screen to screen during an Oompa-Loompa song like he's in a Blue Man Group show, Mike's mom pulls a squealing, squirming hand-held Mike out from behind the screen and carries him offstage to the hysterical laughter of all of the kids and many of the adults.

The Oompa-Loompa's are another hilarious illusion, similar to an act that appeared on America's Got Talent only a few weeks ago. Each bad child's demise happens with special effects and fun magic tricks that save the show from its slow first act. When the abridged ending comes and Charlie puts on his purple jacket, the feeling of wonder comes from the show's magic and the goofiness of its lead. You forgive the first act because of the second and wander out of the theatre like you're wandering out of a place of magic into the un-magical streets of Midtown.

See Charlie & the Chocolate Factory at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre.

Follow the show on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Watch a behind-the-scenes clip below:


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