It is time for more Socio-Political discourse with Good’ Ol’ Charlie Brown and the rest of the gang from Peanuts as we discuss A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. This is more an ode to Colonialsim and Foreign Policy than It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, which we all know now, was an allegory about the evils of Communism. Don’t worry though, Young Mr. Van Pelt still gets to spout his Marxist bullshit in this little tale as well. All these years we thought Charles Schultz was apolitical. We just never peeled away the layers to reveal his TRUE commentary on World Politics.
This humdinger of a special opens with Schultz classic “Football Sketch”. Lucy, once again representing the United States, lures Charlie Brown to try and kick a football. Charlie Brown will take on many hats in this little ‘”Special”, in this case he takes on the guise of wanting to be American. Lucy’s American Empire aligned brain convinces our man Charles that kicking the football is a Thanksgiving tradition. Since Thanksgiving and Football are both utterly American traditions, she is implying that if Charlie Brown doesn’t kick the football that he is un-American. Charlie Brown, not wanting be branded un-American, agrees lest he be blacklisted by Lucy. If Lucy Van Pelt isn’t the Joe McCarthy of Peanuts then I don’t know who is, because this ploy of hers works. Charlie Brown tries to kick the football and once again Lucy yanks the ball away and Charlie Brown lands flat on his back, just like a Hollywood writer going before HUAC!
Having been humiliated by Lucy once more, we then skip to Charlie Brown and his sister Sally getting ready to go visit their Grandmother for Thanksgiving. It is during these preparations that Peppermint Patty calls and “invites” herself over Thanksgiving Dinner at the Brown residence. She also invites Marcie and Franklin over. Here is where our little lesson in Foreign Policy comes in. The first thing one must realize about these situations is that Charlie Brown is NEVER going to be the one representing the United States. He is the little guy getting picked on. He is a third world country that is being plundered for resources (i.e. his Thanksgiving Dinner and time spent with his family). The trifecta of Peppermint Patty, Marcie and Franklin represent Old World Imperialism. They invite themselves in, invade, plunder the resources and never really leave. I’ll leave it to you to figure out which 2 of the three represents England and France. I’ve got Marcie for being England just because she is polite for the record. Franklin is obviously representing the United States here at the turn of the 19th Century i.e. due to his obscurity in the realm of Peanuts characters he isn’t front and center. If somehow he could only kick the shit out of Shermy then we would have our own little version of The Spanish-American War. Then people would pay attention to Franklin.
Charlie Brown, being the downtrodden representative of the Third World does the worst thing he can do in a situation like this. He turns to his little Marxist buddy Linus. Linus, no doubt still smarting over the failure of the Proletariat to rise up on Halloween, advises Charlie Brown to prepare a mock Thanksgiving meal. Left with no recourse Charlie Brown agrees. There is a subtext to Linus’s plan. If Charlie Brown can provide a a meal demonstrating what he, as the Third World, actually has to offer then maybe France, England and The United States will be reluctant to intrude on him again. Thus, with this plan in motion they devise a beggar’s banquet of a meal which they get the insane dog Snoopy to cook.
I am not even going to get into the whole wrongness of having a dog prepare your dinner. Fuck, we never see Snoopy doing dog things that much. I’m guessing when the camera is off he is just as busy licking himself as the next dog. I mean if he is anything like the dogs I’ve known in my life, he probably still puts his nose in stuff he shouldn’t and would probably eat his own vomit if left to his own devices. We must not romanticize Snoopy by making him more human. He is a dog and if people treated him as such more often then perhaps they would do the right thing and put him down. He obviously is insane which can only mean one thing… RABIES! I ask you: Where is Atticus Finch with a shotgun when you need him?
Ok! back to our story… The meal of the Third World is prepared and represented as the following:
1. 2 Slices of Toast, Buttered
(Implying The Third World Can’t Feed Itself)
2. A Handful of Pretzel Sticks
(Implying Their Houses Are Made Of Sticks)
3. A Handful Of Popcorn
(Eat All You Want, You”ll Still Be Hungry)
4. A Smattering Of Jellybeans
(Implying That Ronald Reagan Is Mocking Them)
With Peppermint Patty being France in this scenario, she is outraged that such a poor cuisine is put before her and demands to know just the hell is going on. Charlie Brown is humiliated and leaves the table having failed to impress his oppressors. Marcie, being utterly proper and what not, reminds Peppermint Patty that the Third World did not invite her to come over, she invaded the Third World. Franklin remains silent on the matter as he just waiting for Shermy (Spain) to step out of line. Realizing that she has exploited her friend, Peppermint Patty asks Marcie to apologize for her. This completely representative of how the World Stage of Politics work. Nine times out of ten, when a peace deal needs to be brokered or one country needs to apologize to another they use the British as their go between. Marcie goes to Charlie Brown and begins to apologize. Peppermint Patty then does something very out of character for France, she apologizes. Could I have mis-cast Peppermint Patty? Is she a humbled Germany after World War I? Japan after Commodore Perry brought his Black Ships into Japan? I mean the French never apologize for shit. They could nuke Guam tomorrow and claim that Guam was provoking them. They then would drink jugs of wine and suck on a few garlic cloves… or so I would imagine since this is what I’ve always imagined the French doing. Oh that and getting conquered by the Germans. We can’t forget that. If you need to invade France then, by all means, get the Germans to do it; it is like their National past-time.
Finally, with this mess resolved, it is 4 O’clock. Charlie Brown and Sally are supposed to be at their Grandmother house for Thanksgiving Dinner already. Charlie Brown calls his Grandmother to explain that he will be late because he has company over. I imagine Charlie Brown’s Grandmother to be some kind old woman because she just up and invites everyone over for Thanksgiving dinner. Huh? First of all, don’t these other kids have families? I know the Little Communist does. Its not like the Peanuts characters are all orphans. we know Charlie Brown and the Van Pelt kids have parents. At various times throughout the comic strips other characters always make reference to their parents. What parent doesn’t FRAK OUT on their kids when the kid tells them they aren’t spending Thanksgiving with the family?
Ironically Peppermint Patty, Marcie and Franklin all get their Imperialist meal because not only did they invade Charlie Brown’s home uninvited, they get to STAY for Thanksgiving Dinner at his Grandmother’s house. This just might be the most educational of all the Peanuts specials since it is teaching you about Old World Imperialism/Colonialism. Back in the late 19th century and early 20th century it was about taking over underdeveloped nations to acquire their resources. We didn’t do it under false pretenses like looking for Weapons of Mass Destruction. It was a simple case of “You have it, we don’t and we are bigger than you”. That pretty much is the lesson of this “Thanksgiving Special”. Charlie Brown, as the Third World, cannot hope to win against the bullies of the Old World and burgeoning Superpower. Fuck you have 2 characters that represent the US in this story (Lucy in the opening and Franklin later on). He is Charlie Brown and he just can’t win. I mean the kid’s best friend is fucking Communist for chrissake, how is he supposed to get ahead?
So this wraps my analysis of A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. If you thought this was insane just wait until It’s Arbor Day Charlie Brown or the Linus-centric It’s May Day Charlie Brown. OK, I admit I made that last one up… or did I?