I Don't Understand, Charlie Brown
I realize what I’m about to say is un-American. Or worse, un-Minnesotan, since Charles Schultz hails from this state. (All of a sudden, all those Zamboni jokes make sense, don't they?)
But I don't get the enduring reverence for Charlie Brown.
A few weeks ago, our family watched the annual airing of the Peanuts special “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.” My kids have seen it a few times, mostly when they’ve decided to check the DVD out of the library - in June, naturally. But it’s been a few years, so watching it this fall was like watching it for the first time.
Before I continue, I feel compelled by my distaste for all things controversial to say: I don’t hate Charlie Brown. When I was a kid, I used to check out the Complete Collection of Peanuts from the library at least once a year. I had a small thing for Snoopy. And my kids are so used to me listening to the music from Charlie Brown Christmas each winter that they’ve started saying “This sounds like Charlie Brown” whenever they hear jazz.
So I'm not a jerk, OK?
But I can't say the same about most of the Peanuts gang. They aren't just jerks; they are bullies, especially to Charlie Brown. The Halloween special revolved around them calling each other blockhead and idiot (two words that would get kids in major trouble in our house, if they dared fling them like the Peanuts gang) and mocking Linus’ childlike faith in the Great Pumpkin. Charlie Brown got no candy in his trick-or-treat bag – only bricks. Lucy pulled the football away from him – again - even after promising not to. The few times the kids were kind to each other – like when Lucy goes to get her sleeping little brother out of the pumpkin patch, where he’s shivering with cold – the compassion was colored with huffs and eye rolls.
The humor is grown-up and very 1960s. Jokes about women’s lib abound, and when Linus and Charlie Brown debate the existence of the Great Pumpkin versus Santa Clause, Charlie brown quips, “We’re obviously separated by denominational differences.” Corey and I snickered. But the kids didn’t even flinch.
Frankly, the only somewhat entertaining part of the special was Snoopy’s foray into the world of the Red Baron. And even then, our kids didn’t really understand it. “What is he shooting? Why are there bullet holes in his dog house? If he crashes, will he die? Why is he crawling around on the ground now?” It made no sense to them. But they liked that he made silly noises and shook his fist at invisible enemies.
I know the Christmas special has more redeeming qualities. And I'll admit that my kids watched The Great Pumpkin more than once, even though they didn't get most of the jokes and they were saddened and a little angered by the constant meanness. But to my eyes, it appears the culture lore of Charlie Brown is one of those traditions that is cherished more for its nostalgia than its intrinsic value.
Am I wrong? Tell me I am. Explain.
Posted by Kelly @ Love Well on Tuesday, November 27, 2012