People watching A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving for the first time are accusing it of being racist

Greg Evans
Saturday 24 November 2018 16:45
Showbiz

Charlie Brown is a recognisable character from pop culture history, but it would appear that one episode of the famed animation could do with some historical reevaluation.

Every Thanksgiving in the United States, ABC broadcasts A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, which sees characters from the show enjoy a Thanksgiving meal at Charlie and Sally's house.

Yet the scene where the characters actually sit down to eat their meal has drawn criticism from younger viewers who were seeing the episode for the first time.

The scene sees seven characters sitting around a large table but, for some inexplicable reason, the show's only black character Franklin was sitting on his own and in a chair different to the others, which later broke.

This moment drew the ire of a lot of people online, who took to Twitter to highlight the discrimination that they felt the cartoon was blatantly showing.

Others weren't so sure about the accusations.

Charles M. Schulz, who created the Peanuts comic strip in 1950, introduced Franklin in 1968 amid the civil rights movement.

Schulz decided to add Franklin to the comic after engaging in a conversation with schoolteacher Harriet Glickman, who was concerned about race relations in the US at the time.

Initially, Schulz said that he was hesitant to introduce a black character as he didn't want it to feel patronising to readers, but after Glickman showed his letter to some of her African American friends he changed his mind.

A particular letter from Kenneth C. Kelly proved to be convincing. He is quoted by Snopes as saying:

We have a situation in America in which racial enmity is constantly portrayed.

The inclusion of a Negro supernumerary in some of the group scenes in Peanuts would do two important things.

Firstly, it would ease my problem of having my kids seeing themselves pictured in the overall American scene.

Secondly, it would suggest racial amity in a casual day-to-day sense.

Franklin was introduced two months after Schulz received that letter, but it wasn't all smooth sailing from there, as some strips were criticised for racism, while editors were constantly pressuring him to change certain stories featuring the character.

However, Schulz is unlikely to have had much involvement in the aforementioned Thanksgiving episode, which was first aired in 1973, as Peanuts expert Nat Gertler explained to Snopes.

While Schulz definitely kept a hand in the animated work, by 1973 when the Thanksgiving special aired, the Peanuts characters were starring in not only a steady stream of TV specials, but also a series of animated feature films.

Schulz certainly wasn’t laying out every shot himself — he had a day job to take care of, writing and drawing the most popular comic strip going, as well as creating original books, handling licensing materials, and so on. A talented team of animation folks were doing their job on this.

This doesn't entirely clear up that particular scene and the seating arrangement, so it would appear that whether you consider this to be racist or not is purely subjective.

HT Daily Mail

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