Friday, December 19, 2008
Have a Medicated Christmas, Charlie Brown!
Viri and I enjoyed watching Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown today. He was a little confused by it, and well he should be.
I'm not sure if Charles Schulz himself was insane, or merely chronicling the adventures of a group of insane children and a dog with human characteristics. But oh boy is the cartoon crazy. The basic story is familiar to everyone in my generation, I imagine: Charlie Brown is outcast and unloved, but after hearing the true meaning of Christmas from Linus, the children band together, shun him slightly less, and sing. The message is that even though Christmas has become commercial, it's still nice. Oddly, the only example of commercialism pointed out is the fact that Snoopy decorated his house. I don't think commercial means what you think it means, Chuck.
Linus has his problems too, of course. He carries a blankie everywhere, sucks his thumb, and is deathly afraid of Sally, all in spite of the fact that he appears to be ten years old. A ten year old with a blankie? That's pathological. He does do a good rendition of the nativity story. He's a savant of some kind.
Which leads me to wonder: Can Snoopy really ice skate and dance and decorate his house, or do the mad children of this town imagine it? It certainly appears possible.
Still, this is a really fun cartoon to watch. The quotes alone are worth the time.
"All I want is my fair share. All I want is what's coming to me."
"We all know Christmas is a big commercial racket. It's run by a big east coast syndicate, you know."
"I just don't feel what I'm supposed to feel."
"Boy are you stupid, Charlie Brown."
The insanity even extends to the end credits, where a dozen or so people are credited with "graphic blandishment." Excuse me? Did you just make up a credit?
One of the things I love about the holidays is this kind of cultural phenomenon. I genuinely enjoy it, and I think a lot of people my age do too. But there is no denying its bizarre, fragmented themes or existential meandering. I wonder what it is that got this kind of thing made in the mid-sixties? And why did we enjoy it?
For me and other people born after the sixties, maybe it's simply a nostalgic connection to the first half of the century. Or maybe the themes resonate somewhere in our own crazy minds that imagine dancing, decorating dogs who fetishize World War One.
I hope it's nostalgia.