My childhood is collapsing. First, they took away all the toys with lead-based paint on them – so long everything I played with as a small child. Then McDonald’s became the edible equivalent to heroin. Now Charlie Brown is a symbol of bullying.
What’s next? Calvin and Hobbes as an allegory for Al-Qaida?
I loved all the Charlie Brown movies as a kid – and as an adult: for Christmas two years ago, I may or may not have received a DVD of This is America, Charlie Brown which was a highlight of my youth and certainly that holiday. I make it a point to watch the Christmas and Thanksgiving specials every year; along with A Christmas Story, they are the only movies in my must-watch holiday rotation. Now they’re supposedly encouraging kids to bully?
The notion that ‘schoolyard bullying’ is antiquated leads me to believe the writers of these missives haven’t spent any time in a schoolyard for many years. If they had, they’d realize that the biggest bullies on the playground and the biggest threat to America’s children are America’s overbearing parents.
Kids get bullied; it’s not good, it’s not fun and it ruins the lives of many young people because they aren’t emotionally equipped to handle it. Arguing that is futile and stupid. Unfortunately, nobody seems to realize that education and explanation would be better methods of reaching and educating kids; it’s much easier to blame Charlie Brown.
Here’s what I will tell my kids (and have heard other people tell their own) about kids whose parents are like this: please don’t befriend them. Even if they raised a nice, polite kid that never said ‘shit’ and would never let live frogs loose in the teacher’s lounge, it wouldn’t be worth it. If you accidentally bump into their kid too hard, they’ll try to have you kicked out of school and committed to an institution and will definitely try to put me in jail for being an unfit parent. Let’s just not deal with this unless there’s no other choice.
According to the above article Charlie Brown, as the supposed hero of the Peanuts movies, is subjected to taunting, name-calling and demeaning put-downs from other children, which will teach kids that those things are okay.* This behavior, the logic goes, will make our little ones (THINK OF THE CHILDREN) see these actions not just as acceptable but funny and cool.
*-This perception is total crap, but I feel the need to add this – being called ‘blockhead’ and ‘stupid’ is tame where children are concerned. I could use five different swear words in a seven-word sentence by the time I was 12 years old, and I didn’t learn that from Linus, Lucy or the rest of the gang.
Setting aside the preposterous notion that children would be so stupid that they would learn their behavioral patterns from cartoons, as opposed to their parental ‘influences’, let’s examine Charlie Brown for a moment. He was the saddest of sacks, a kid that could be talked into doing stuff he’d rather not, by people he didn’t particularly like, for reasons that weren’t very clear. It’s depressing to imagine a middle-aged Charlie Brown. Would he find love? Could he raise children? What kind of employee would he be?
The answer is that he’s all of us. When we can’t get a date, or discipline a kid properly, or figure out the right way to ask the boss for a raise, we are Charlie Brown. Instead of worrying about what ‘bad influences’ we would learn from him, we should be thankful he was there, basically saying (now I’m paraphrasing), “Hey, people are going to try to shit on you for your entire life; don’t let them get you down. Just keep livin’, man.”
Newsflash: Charles Schultz’s lovable cartoons don’t cause kids to bully other kids. The (perceptibly) weak being preyed on by the (perceptibly) strong is ingrained in our DNA from the time of cavemen. Blaming Charlie Brown for that is akin to me blaming ESPN and the World Series of Poker for my brother’s God-awful gambling addiction.
The fact is, most of us are Charlie Brown: flawed, not always sure of the right move, bumbling through life the best way we know how. People that think Charlie Brown is the problem are the Lucy’s of the world: arrogant, always right, and constantly telling you how much better they could run your life for you. Bottom line: Lucy was a bitch. Long live Charlie Brown.