Just ahead of Sunday’s holiday, a brand-new Peanuts’ Mother’s Day special is scheduled to be released on Friday via Apple TV. It’s titled, “Snoopy Presents to Mom (and Dad), with Love” and it will feature all the beloved characters familiar to past generations: Charlie Brown and Snoopy, Linus, Lucy, Sally, Marcie and Peppermint Patty.
According to the trailer, the episode elicits all the familiar feel-good vibes of past shows, but with one major exception.
At some point in the program, Peppermint Patty shares the sad news that she’s never had a mother, but then asks her sidekick, Marcie, “There are all types of moms, right?” Her bespectacled friend replies, “Some kids have two moms.”
Sadly, many parents have grown accustomed to children’s shows introducing their kids to mature and complicated topics ranging from everything from human sexuality to race and environmental propaganda. It may go over the heads of younger viewers, but regular doses of anything begin to take their toll.
Peanuts creator Charles Schulz died in February of 2000, succumbing to cancer on the very day his last original comic strip ran in the newspaper. He had announced his retirement in the fall of 1999.
In the years since the famous cartoonist’s passing, the Peanuts brand has been managed in a partnership involving the Schulz family and the Iconix Brand Group, a New York-based company. According to media reports, the legendary brand generates billions of dollars in sales each year from movies, cable and television programs, retail merchandising and reruns of the founder’s iconic comic strip.
So, in some sense, it should come as little surprise that an ever-evolving brand would evolve to reflect the current standards and politics of corporate America. But the charm of Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang has been that they’ve been historically different, eschewing the politically correct formulas and propaganda present everywhere else.
For example, Charles Schulz insisted on the Christmas episode retaining its scriptural foundation and the program emphasizing the true meaning of the holiday. When the network threatened to pull the plug unless he agreed to tone its religiosity down, Schulz assured them he would walk away. Linus’ classic reading from the Gospel of Luke remained. It was an instant hit.
A convert to Christianity following his return from World War II, and a longtime Sunday school teacher, Schulz was sometimes subtle, but never shy about incorporating his faith into his comic strips.
“I preach in these cartoons, and I reserve the same rights to say what I want to say as the minister in the pulpit,” the cartoonist once said. Many of the themes throughout the brand’s run hinted at deeper matters of faith. Subjects like loneliness, insecurity, bullying and acceptance had scriptural foundations.
While it’s impossible to know for sure how Charles Schulz would have responded to calls to include references to mature issues such as homosexuality in his cartoon, his deep faith and track record throughout his five-decade career drawing Peanuts would suggest he wouldn’t have approved. “Let kids be kids” was a common mantra in his work. In fact, his strip and shows were so kid-centric that they never included adults.
Some will argue that Marcie’s observation is merely acknowledging a controversial reality. But why must Hollywood and its writers continue to destroy once cherished and family-friendly brands with their incessant politicization?
“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea,” said Jesus (Matthew 18:6).
In the end, those who control the beloved brand have missed the mark, leaving many parents to invoke the name of a 1990 Peanuts’ movie:
“Why, Charlie Brown, Why?”