Sunday, December 2, 2007

Why Is Charlie Brown So Depressed?

Watching "A Charlie Brown Christmas" in 2007 shows just how ahead-of-the-curve Charles Schulz was when he developed his depressive Charlie Brown character in the 1950s. With a growing number of us taking anti-depressants (and speaking openly about it), it seems we've finally caught up with ol' Chuck.

A sense of melancholy and sadness permeates this 40-plus year old Christmas animation, from Charlie Brown's frank admissions of depression, his visit to money-grubbing Lucy's psychiatrist's office, to Vince Guaraldi's almost crushingly wistful jazz score. CBS network executives were apprehensive about the script, but the debut episode proved a smashing success (50% of American homes tuned in for the premiere).

It asked Americans a fundamental step-back-and-think question: if we live in such a priveleged, wealthy nation, then why are so many of us depressed?

Perhaps "A Charlie Brown Christmas" answered it best. Though we claim to be a Christian nation, we're really not. We worship a different trinity: capitalism, consumerism and credit, and disguise it with the sanctimonious "outrage" at secularism displayed by Fox News personalities this time each year. Before Christmas was Christmas, it was a pagan winter holiday. And you know what? It still is.

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