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461683.  Sat Dec 20, 2008 3:38 pm Reply with quote

TBOGI explains that Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was changed to Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory for the film because 'Charlie' had become US street slang for an African American (page 228).
Can anyone provide a citation to confirm this? I thought 'Charlie' was slang for cocaine, and for the Viet Cong (or Vietcong). There are a number of even less salubrious meanings that I found, which I would rather not go into, but an African American was not one of them (not that an African American would be less salubrious than cocaine or the Viet Cong).

461699.  Sat Dec 20, 2008 3:56 pm Reply with quote

grabagrannie wrote:
the Viet Cong.

They were only called Viet Cong to demonise them, they were really called the Viet Minh.

Minor Googlage turns up Charlie used as a "nickname" for any Asian man, not African-American.

461703.  Sat Dec 20, 2008 4:15 pm Reply with quote

Yes, but they were called the Viet Cong, which the Americans abbreviated to 'VC', for which the NATO phonetic alphabet is 'Victor Charlie', which was, in turn, abbreviated to 'Charlie'.
According to Wikipedia, Việt cộng is short for cộng sản Việt Nam ("Vietnamese communist"). This (if it is correct) is hardly demonisation.
From the same source: The Việt Minh (abbreviated from Việt Nam –ộc Lập –ồng Minh Hội, English "League for the Independence of Vietnam") was a national liberation movement which dated its foundation to May 19 1941 in South China.
I don't think the klaxon is therefore deserved.

461742.  Sat Dec 20, 2008 5:25 pm Reply with quote

"Charlie" has had many meanings in slang, with cocaine and that Vietnamese group the best known.

In British slang ("a proper Charlie"), it's rhyming slang. Partridge reckons that it comes from "Charlie Ronce" = ponce, although who Charlie Ronce was I know not and neither does Partridge. He also mentions Charlie Smirke, who was a leading horse race jockey of the mid twentieth century; this would make it double rhyming slang. Brewer reckons it was the altogether less subtle Charlie Hunt.

To an Australian, apparently a Charlie is an attractive woman (Charlie Wheeler = Sheila), while I've certainly heard "Charlies" used for a feature of the female anatomy.

Then a Charlie has also been a male homosexual, a prostitute, a pimp, a chamber pot, and all sorts of other things - but not, so far as any of the books at my disposal are aware, a black person.

461756.  Sat Dec 20, 2008 6:29 pm Reply with quote


461998.  Sun Dec 21, 2008 8:25 am Reply with quote

Unfortunately I don't have a copy of the book with me here, so I'm not sure exactly what was written, but I wonder if this is a case of confusion.

In 1964 there was a play by James Baldwin called "Blues for Mister Charlie". A review from 24th April 1964 from the New York Times mentions "mister Charlie" as a slang used by black people at white people.

For those who don't have a copy of the article to hand, below is the article, with the relevant bit highlighted:

Theater: 'Blues for Mister Charlie'

James Baldwin has written a play with fires of fury in its belly, tears of anguish in its eyes and a roar of protest in its throat.

"Blues for Mister Charlie," which stormed into the ANTA Theater last night, is not a tidy play. Its structure is loose, and it makes valid points as if they were clich»s. But it throbs with fierce energy and passion. It is like a thunderous battle cry.

On a larger scale it resembles "Waiting for Lefty" of three decades ago, when Clifford Odets rallied labor to its rights. "Blues for Mister Charlie" is a summons to arms in this generation's burning cause--the establishment in this country of the Negro's full manhood, with all the perquisites of that simple and lofty station

You need only to open the program to discover what is on Mr. Baldwin's mind. For there he tells you that his play is "dedicated to the memory of Medgar Evers, and his widow and his children, and to the memory of the dead children of Birmingham."

The title also informs you of Mr. Baldwin's viewpoint. "Mister Charlie" is the phrase the Negro uses for the white man. His play sings the blues for the white man's moral crisis as much as for the Negro's frustration and agony.

There is a moment midway in the play when this point is made with cutting sharpness. The reserved, dignified Rev. Meridian Henry, pastor of the Negro church in a small Southern town, dares to ask the hard question of Parnell, the one decent white man: Have they been friends because Parnell thinks of Meridian as his favorite Uncle Tom? And then the minister warns that truth must be faced--for the white man's sake, not the Negro's.

Using a free form, which weaves in and out the present and the past, Mr. Baldwin is telling the story of Richard Henry, the pastor's son, and of his shooting by a poor, dull- witted redneck. Although Mr. Baldwin has a courtroom for much of his last act, he does not worry about the niceties of legal procedure. Similarly throughout the play he does not bother with routine devices of realism and suspense.

The fundamental forces that lead to such a crime are what concern him. Even more he seeks to express the outraged thoughts and emotions that blazed within seemingly placid Negroes for so many deceptive years. He reaches his most searing moment of preachment at the end of the second act when the Reverend Henry speaks a eulogy over his son's coffin.

Percy Rodriguez reads this speech with consuming intensity. For it is not a lamentation but the wrath of the prophet. "What shall we tell our children?," he cries in a voice of doom. "Learn to walk again like men," he shouts, like a trumpet call. "Like men! Amen!"

In a crucial scene between Richard and Lyle, the redneck, Mr. Baldwin remembers his duty as a dramatist not to take the easy course. Al Freeman Jr. is a Richard who has come back from a stay in the North seething with rebellion. He enters Lyle's store, and challenges Rip Torn's proud, stupid Lyle with an insolence that would infuriate a better white man or even a dark-skinned one. Both men play their roles admirably, and they charge this scene with electricity.

Mr. Baldwin knows how the Negroes think and feel, but his inflexible, Negro-hating Southerners are stereotypes. Southerners may talk and behave as he suggests, but in the theater they are caricatures.

On the other hand, Parnell, played with touching decency and humility by Pat Hingle, has a tender and harrowing recollection of his love for a Negro girl of 17 when he was 18 and of the terrible moment when her mother, a servant in his house, discovered them. This is Mr. Baldwin at the top of his form.

There are memorable dramatic fragments scattered through "Blues for Mister Charlie." Among the best are the vignettes in which key characters speak their thoughts aloud before they testify.

Diana Sands as the girl Richard loved has an impassioned incantation to the fulfillment he has brought her, and she reads it with shattering emotion. Ann Wedgeworth as Lyle's frightened wife, Rosetta Le Noire as Richard's wise, unforgetting grandmother and John McCurry as a Negro who runs a bar perform with touching credibility.

Burgess Meredith's staging of this novelistic script with its constantly shifting episodes and times has admirable fluidity. The changes have the smoothness of a dance. Moods are counterpoint impressively, the white folks meet in Lyle' parlor on a Sunday morning and spew out their sweet poison while in the rear the Negroes surround the coffin and chant somberly "God's walkin' on the water."

Feder's simple open stage is perfectly suited to this treatment, and his lighting is a powerful dramatic agent.

The Actors Studio Theater, which has been stumbling in darkness all season, finally has arrived at something worth doing. Although Mr. Baldwin has not yet mastered all the problems and challenges of the theater, "Blues for Mister Charlie" brings eloquence and conviction to one of the momentous themes of our era.

Ion Zone
462409.  Sun Dec 21, 2008 5:10 pm Reply with quote

The Goons were fond of the Charlies, there are some good quotes. :}

462527.  Sun Dec 21, 2008 7:33 pm Reply with quote

GG I quite agree with where the Americans got Charlie from ( phonetic alphabet, VC, all that).

It was a question in one of the shows about the people the Americans were fighting (not including the North Vietnamese Army) being called the Viet Minh. They were called the Viet Cong by the Americans to demonise them.

It seems probable that both groups existed but every non regular troop was called Viet Cong even though they were vastly outnumbered by the Viet Minh.

Transcript of the actual question :-

Now, what was the name of the organisation that the Americans fought in Vietnam?

The Vietcong, the Gooks.

[Forfeit: Klaxons sound. Viewscreens flash the word "VIETCONG".]

We want the proper name . . .

Alan, even I can work out that when you know the answer, never give it, 'cause it's always the one . . . it's the one they're hoping we'll say!

"Gooks" and "Charlie" and "Vietcong" are all alike, made up by Americans.


The "viet"-- . . . word "vietcong" doesn't exist; it was made up by the CIA.

People's Popular Army . . .

Vietnamese People's Liberation Front?

Yes, which was known as the--?

People's Popular Army?

PLO? PLF? Tooting Popular Front . . .

The Viet . . . It's the name of their great hero--

Ho Chi Minh.

Ho Chi Minh.Viet Minh.

[in high-pitched Vietnamese accent] "Viet Minh! Ah . . . !"

Yes . . . Where have you heard of this before? The Americans gave a huge amount of money to the Viet Minh, because at one point they were all on the same side.

You've never heard this happen; this is ridiculous!

I know! Having armed them to the teeth, the war then ends, and, er, again, a huge historical surprise here: the French surrender, erm, extraordinary, er . . . to Ho Chi Minh, and . . . in 1954, and that's the end of their rule in . . . in Indo-China, and suddenly the Americans are fighting them with the weapons they gave them just ten years earlier.

But what is this term "Viet Cong"? Is that supposed to be a term of abuse, like King Kong or--

It . . . Yes. The CIA believed it sounded more kind of menacing and ugly and also--


--associated with Communism. "Viet Cong", Commies.

Viet Minh doesn't sound very good either, does it?

Cheers Vanessa

Sadurian Mike
462553.  Sun Dec 21, 2008 7:57 pm Reply with quote

the war then ends, and, er, again, a huge historical surprise here: the French surrender

<naughty snigger>

462586.  Sun Dec 21, 2008 11:07 pm Reply with quote

Can we just deal with this thing about the French surrendering? If a big bloke comes at you in a menacing fashion you're advised to surrender. He may be a rapist - he may be the police. But either way you're advised to surrender. In the former case, the official advice is to not offer any resistance as this will lead to more serious injury. In the latter case there is no official advice but if you're a Brazilian electrician experience tells us that you should automatically assume the position even if you are not threatened.

So when a well trained army invaded France they acted in the only sensible way.

Sadurian Mike
462590.  Sun Dec 21, 2008 11:23 pm Reply with quote

France, in 1940, was supposedly the best-trained and equipped army in the world. It had better tanks and more personnel (6 million in the Battle of France alone, more than the entire German army of 5 and half million) than the Germans, had the opportiunity to strike while Germany was occupied elsewhere, and had the benefit of the Maginot line along a good deal of its frontier.

Really, it ought to have done better.

462591.  Sun Dec 21, 2008 11:27 pm Reply with quote

France, in 1940, was supposedly the best-trained and equipped army in the world.


It had better tanks
- says who?

I don't know what histories you've consulted Mike but I'd love to see them.

Sadurian Mike
462592.  Sun Dec 21, 2008 11:37 pm Reply with quote

Go read some military histories then, bob.

In particular:

Any decent book about Dunkirk but particularly;
Dunkirk: Fight to the last man. Hugh Sebag-Montefiore ISBN-10: 0141024372, ISBN-13: 978-0141024370
The Fall of France; The Nazi invasion of 1940. Julian Jackson ISBN-10: 0192805509, ISBN-13: 978-0192805508
To Lose a Battle: France 1940. Alistair Horne ISBN-10: 0141030658, ISBN-13: 978-0141030654
French Tanks of WW2. Militaria In Detail ISBN-10: 8372199043,
ISBN-13: 978-8372199041

462595.  Sun Dec 21, 2008 11:46 pm Reply with quote

Do tell Mike - which Military Histories would that be that said that France had the "best-trained and equipped army in the world"?

Or had "better tanks"?

462598.  Sun Dec 21, 2008 11:53 pm Reply with quote

I know the Montefiore - in which he concludes (correctly) that the French army was trained to fight on a defensive line based on the Maginot. No battle plan was advanced after the fall of that line.

Jackson is unfamiliar.

I know Horne too - which is much the same as Montefiore.

And I'm familiar with the Militaria in Detail. That's a detail of the armament and operational capabiliites. But it takes no account of disposition or use.


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