As Halloween nears, many families will gather around the old television set for the annual viewing of “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.” But, one dad says it’s time to retire the classic cartoon because of its taunting messages and unkind words.
“The show is riddled with the kids calling each other stupid, dumb, and blockheads. There is continous teasing and bullying. Charlie Brown is supposed to be the hero, instead he is kicked and demeaned at every turn, even by the adults giving out candy,” Buzz Bishop, otherwise known as DadCamp, wrote at Babble.com recently.
Bishop argues that apart from a sense of nostalgia for parents, the Charlie Brown specials have nothing of value to offer today’s kids. He finds the shows’ acceptance of schoolyard teasing to be antiquated. And, as the father of young kids, he finds the constant use of words like “stupid” “dumb” and “blockhead” to be a bad message for those little ears. “Charlie Brown is always an outsider, the cool kids continue to play tricks, and nobody is ever held to account. In an era of hashtags like #RIPAmandaTodd, these types of attitudes are no longer appropriate,” Bishop wrote.
As the gang goes trick-or-treating, Charlie Brown is repeatedly given a rock while the other children are given treats. Bishop points to this as evidence that even the adults are in on the bullying. Of course, since Charlie Brown is wearing a costume, it could be argued that the adults aren’t intentionally singling the poor kid out.
Throughout life, most of us have times when we feel like everyone else is getting treats (or bags full of candy, if you will), while we get nothing but a sack of rocks. Maybe it’s helpful and reassuring for kids to know that everyone else has those “sucks to be me” moments once in a while. Admittedly, old Charlie Brown seems to have more than his fair share.
Although Bishop believes it’s time for a new era in children’s programming, not everyone is on board.
“Next, where is the line drawn at sheltering children? The moment those children go to school, or are out of your control they are going to deal with issues like bullying. What’s a better way to first encounter it, Charlie Brown or alone in the playground? Bullying exists and comparing calling a kid a 'blockhead' like in Charlie Brown to the abuse that Amanda Todd had to put up with is like comparing a fender-bender with vehicular manslaughter. The scope is nowhere near the same. Bullying is a serious problem when it reaches serious levels such as with Amanda Todd, but at lesser levels it is an unfortunate fact of life, one which I can’t imagine will ever disappear. Avoidance of a problem will only hurt you when the problem must be confronted,” a commenter by the name of Allan stated on Babble.
Of course, Charlie Brown isn’t the only children’s show to use questionable words or themes, as SusanP, another commenter, mentioned. “Interesting perspective — what about the Christmas Story? Home Alone? It’s amazing to watch these old favorites with parent eyes in these modern day times,” she posted.
Do you think Charlie Brown and other classic shows are worth showing to kids, even if their messages don’t always work in today’s society, or do you think it’s time to retire them?
Dana Macario is a Seattle-area mom who, like DadCamp, has been surprised to find words like “stupid,” “dumb,” and “cannibal” in children’s movies – thanks a lot, "Toy Story," that last one was something I wasn’t quite ready to explain to preschoolers.