Tuesday, December 23, 2003

A Charlie Brown Christmas...

"Isn't there anyone, who knows what Christmas is all about?!" shouted Charlie Brown in the 1965 television classic. How interesting... all this time I thought he was just a cartoon character and he turns out to be a prophet. What is also interesting is how the special came to be. In How A Charlie Brown Christmas Came to Pass: The unlikely beginnings of a holiday classic, Holly Hartman details how Charles Schulz and Lee Mendelson met together and developed the storyline for the eventual classic. Though technically flawed, I still consider this to be the best of all the Charlie Brown / Peanuts specials. Hartman writes: The basics of the cartoon were laid out within a few hours. It would include ice-skating; a pageant (Mendelson and Schulz had both flubbed parts in school shows); a mix of Christmas carols and Guaraldi's contemporary jazz; and the message that Christmas is really about the joyful miracle of Jesus's birth. Schulz wanted A Charlie Brown Christmas to have the religious meaning that was central to his own experience of Christmas. And though the special was made in California, Schulz wanted it to include snowy scenes that recalled his native Midwest. Even Schulz admitted that he was probably the only person who could have gotten A Charlie Brown Christmas made. Television executives hated it from the start. It was criticized as being too religious—Linus quotes straight from the King James Bible (Luke 2:8-14). It was criticized for featuring contemporary jazz, an offbeat choice for a cartoon. It was criticized for not having a laugh track. It was criticized for using the voices of real children (except for Snoopy, who was voiced by animator Melendez). (emphasis added) I'm still amazed that, in this day of inclusivism, A Charlie Brown Christmas is still run on Network TV. At the very least I would expect the PC police to censor Linus' speech... at most I would expect them to forbid airing the special at all. Yes, Charlie Brown. There are people, besides Linus, who know what Christmas is all about. God willing, they will continue to let the world know. Add A Charlie Brown Christmas to your video library... right there next to It's a Wonderful Life.

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