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|John Holmes Motherfucker - 2017-12-25 |
I think it must have been a lot longer since I've seen this than I'd thought. What struck me about this when I watched it last night, was, in large measure, the same thing that struck me the first time I saw it, when I was seven years old, and it was airing for the first time: children's voices! Fifty years ago, it was radical to have to have natural human voices in a cartoon, and it's still pretty unusual. Even with Snoopy dancing and laughing, miming other animals, and behaving more like Jerry Lewis than any actual dog, the natural voices of real children give a real human resonance to the story, especially the voices of children singing.
I know some of you probably don't like religion in your entertainment, but I've rarely seen religious content applied with more taste and finesse than Linus's monologue from Matthew. Simple, brief, modest, and compelling, it's the opposite of Cecil B Demille bullshit spectacle. It's a beautiful story, and I find it to be moving. So sue me.
Somewhere over the past 20 years, I'd forgotten how funny Snoopy is.
|BHWW - 2017-12-25 |
The story behind the special is somewhat amazing. CBS had ordered it in the hopes of getting a lighthearted, goofy cartoon starring the Peanuts gang and got Biblical quotations and potshots at holiday commericalism. They ended up objecting to about everything that made it classic, such as Linus quoting the KJV take on the birth of Christ, the voice acting by actual kids and Vince Guaraldi's jazz soundtrack. They wanted a laugh track, and a more traditional soundtrack and all of that. Schultz had to stand firm and lobby hard for all of that, at one point saying he'd rather have the special not aired at all if the execs were going to cut the moment where Linus quotes the Bible.
The production was a rush job on the sort of budget that made a "shoestring budget" look generous and it shows in the animation, the production team were given six months and the actual process of animation didn't start until three months in. They wrapped up production ten days before airing.
After completing the project, almost no one on the production team thought they had a winning cartoon on their hands. Producer Lee Mendelson thought it was a disaster and that they had "ruined Charlie Brown". Director Bill Melendez watched the completed animation in a theater with his people days before airing and turned to his crew, saying "My golly, we've killed it." Schultz had little faith that it would turn out well. The network was unenthusiasticly airing it out of contractual obligation at that point.
CBS initially refused to let any critics see the special beforehand, fearing that the avalanche of bad reviews they expected to receive would kill the careers of everybody involved. They relented because they realize that "not screening for critics" can backfire so they allowed one Time magazine writer to preview it. His review, which was published the day after the premiere, was very positive. As were all of the other reviews, the critics were unanimous in their praise and in 1966 it was awarded an Emmy for Outstanding Children's Program.
"Charlie Brown is not used to winning, so we thank you," Schulz said, accepting the award.
John Holmes Motherfucker
****** SIX stars for you, my friend!
Jesus! A fucking laughtrack! Still cringing at the thought!
When I was greedy seven year old, the themes of commercialism and holiday malaise were alien to me... but I knew who Charlie Brown was. He was me. I'm sure many others have felt the same.
If you're an adult, the themes are more real, and more relevant today than ever. "When did the economy get tied to Santa's ass?" asked Lewis Black once. It was a damn good question, and that was before Black Friday got moved to Thursday. I started to be ambivalent to Christmas in my twenties. As a person of low income, I dread the economic siren song of Christmas around the end of August.
Last year, for the first time, I ignored Christmas. I was depressed about the election, and my friend Cynthia had lost her driver's license after a policeman had found her asleep in a convenience store parking lot next to the pump, leaving me to push all groceries, laundry, plus the litter and catfood for fifteen cats, up the steep hill to her house. The day after it happened was the first real snowstorm. The world seemed chaotic and threatening. I just couldn't get it up for Christmas.
As some of you know, Cynthia died nine days before Thanksgiving, after a bad fall, and five days in a coma. It happened in an instant, and I've been dealing with some nasty-ass grief.
Cynthia, and her brother, who died in 2011 and was also a good friend, loved Christmas, and so I made a decision that Christmas would be about her memory, instead of about her loss. She always loved the Christmas lights, so I put up lights everywhere. I went to the annual family gathering, and opened up to everyone. One of the things they never mention about your parents getting divorced is sometimes they marry into great families. My stepmom's family is Polish-Catholic. They hug and kiss each other. it blew my mind the first time I saw it. This year, I took full advantage.
It was a great Christmas, maybe the best since i was a child. Certainly, it was the most therapeutic. With my family, I felt like I belonged somewhere, which is something that just a few days ago, I thought I might never feel again. I got a couple of great presents, including the phone Cynthia gave me as an early Christmas present about a week before her accident. It's the best phone I've ever had. It's got a nice processor, and it really holds a charge compared to the cheap ass phones I'm used to. It was a good thing to have with me through the chaos of the last month and a half.
I also got a Keurig K cup coffee brewer. My brother gave it to me. Cynthia and I had been talking a lot about getting one. He didn't know about that. It was an amazing surprise. Everybody was startled by my delighted scream of OH MY GOD when I opened the gift. I think it's quite possible the last time I reacted like that on opening a Christmas present, it was the Robot Commando, which I got in 1962.
So, am I claiming a Christmas miracle? My dead friend, now an angel, whispering in my brother's ear? It felt like it. I don't really believe in such things, but I liked the feeling.
I'll take it! Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!
|betamaxed - 2017-12-26 |
5 stars for the stories in the comments
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