In praise of Peanuts--culture cues and life lessons from Charlie Brown

The Peanuts Movie 65 years after Peanuts cartoons appeared, "The Peanuts Movie" came out. It opened November, 2015 and eight months later, its popularity continues to escalate. Multiple theater and Broadway versions of Peanuts-based stories have been done and reprised in the comic's long and illustrious career. One of the most famous is "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown." The off-Broadway production opened in 1967 and had many revivals. The most recent is the York Theatre Company 2016 revival, nearly 50 years later.
What is it that has drawn fans to the Peanuts gang for seven decades? Peanuts has a kryptonite appeal for adults and children alike. '60s and '70s kids were surely powerless over the addiction. They read Peanuts comics in the paper, bought paperbacks of Snoopy comics, rushed home to watch Charlie Brown specials on TV (back when they came on once a year and if you missed them, sucks to you.)
Back in the day, all kids knew of culture came from Charlie Brown and Looney Tunes. If it weren't for them, baby boomers would have been a bunch of ignorami. Who knew, for example, what "psychiatric help" was till Lucy VanPelt opened her booth and charged five cents for it? (Don't judge, a nickel was a lot of money back then!) Who'd ever heard of VanGogh till Snoopy decorated his doghouse in it? Snoopy also taught history-deprived kids about WWI flying aces, Sopwith Camels and the Red Baron.
Kids knew the name Pavlov thanks to dog-dish-wielding Snoopy, if they didn't get the reference. From Schroeder, kids got music appreciation of Beethoven and Rachmaninoff--though how he got "Prelude in C-sharp minor" out of that toy piano, no one ever figured out.  And blanket-toting Linus's philosophical lectures were head and shoulders above most adults let alone kids.
Kids learned life lessons from and with the Peanuts gang. Raise your hand if you yelled "no, Charlie Brown, don't do it!" when P.I.T.A Lucy tries to lure him into kicking that blasted football, again? A generation learned how to avoid kite-eating trees, thanks to Peanuts comics. And who didn't feel just a little bit better about limited athletic skills compared to Charlie Brown? Having said that, this author can't be the only one annoyed that pitcher Charlie Brown took all the flak when the whole team screwed up. Even Snoopy--his own pet--was a bit of a douche-dog to Charlie Brown. Snoopy definitely had better friends and a cooler social life.
But Charlie Brown took it with Zen. As Lucy so aptly put it, "of all the Charlie Browns, Charlie Brown, you're the Charlie Browniest." Why does Peanuts continue to resonate? Je ne sais quoi--but it probably has to do with that wonderful Tao plus chutzpah of Charlie Brown!  

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