Sunday, June 19, 2022

It's a Mean World Charlie Brown but You Don't Let That Get You Down

When I was in high school back in the mid-60s my Drama class put on a play featuring characters from the popular Sunday newspaper cartoon strip Peanuts

I remember thinking how dumb it was and not wanting a part in the play. My buddies would have had a field day if I played Charlie Brown or Snoopy. I was sure I'd be hazed about it for life.

A funny thing happened years later. I grew a new appreciation for Charles Schultz's (right) characters. 

I began taking inspiration from Charlie Brown's naive attempts to find something positive in a negative world. This video from A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (2010) is a good example.

The simple genius of Peanuts lies in Schulz’s ability to get to the heart of large matters (unrequited love, loneliness) and critical life questions (is there a Great Pumpkin?) through the lens of emotionally precocious children.

My three boys loved watching Peanuts specials on TV. My wife and I enjoyed watching them with the kids. Two generations appreciating cartoon characters originally created in 1950 (the year I was born).

I particularly like the way Charlie Brown keeps coming back after each failure.

He's a poor man's philosopher. No matter how mean people are to him, Charlie rises above their pettiness and keeps looking for rainbows with his loyal dog Snoopy.

According to Schultz's biographer the events and relationships in Peanuts are for the most part events and relationships distilled from his life. I find that fascinating. Converting one's life into a cartoon strip and becoming rich and famous along the way is quite an achievement.

I can't help wondering if I hadn't been too cool to get involved in the play how I would have portrayed Charlie Brown?

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