TELL US: Does Charlie Brown's 'Great Pumpkin' Condone Bullying?

One parent is asking the holiday classic special to be removed from the airwaves because of a "bullying" theme. Do you agree?


Teasing or bullying?

One parent is speaking out online against the Halloween classic program, "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown," claiming the animated favorite actually condones bullying, according to a report on WCVB.com.

The TODAY Show's Moms Blog reported this week that in a recent blog post on Babble.com, blogger DadCamp wrote that the show sends the wrong message to children because of its "continuous teasing and bullying":

"The show is riddled with the kids calling each other stupid, dumb, and blockheads," DadCamp wrote. "Charlie Brown is supposed to be the hero. Instead, he is kicked and demeaned at every turn, even by the adults giving out candy."

Bishop goes on to argue the Charlie Brown specials have nothing of value to offer today’s children; the programs are just a nostalgia trip for parents.

But what do you think? Does "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" send the wrong message and condone bullying? Or is the claim taking extreme aim at a children's classic? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Deb October 27, 2012 at 11:56 AM
I always thought that it was exactly the other way around; that Schultz' work made us have sympathy for those bullied. After all, Charlie is the hero of the stories, not Lucy. For example, in the Christmas one, Charlie and Linus, the bullied, turn the tables on the others and make them see what the real spirit and meaning of Christmas is. They all pitch in to make the tree look good and they are all nice to Charlie, the one who had been bullied. Some people feel that the mere appearance of a bad thing in children's literature means that the author condones that bad thing. It does not. Accuracy is not advocacy. If one writes about a tragic historical event, that does not mean that one condones the tragedy, for example, writing about the various genocides that have occured in the 20th century does not mean that one condones genocide. Quite the reverse! Nor does the appearance of bullying in a book or movie mean that the author condones it. The whole point of Peanuts has always been to teach loving kindness - Schultz's work is infused with his Christian faith. In fact, a minister wrote a book to that effect in the 1960s. then travelled around the country doing "chalk talks" about the series. I remember seeing this talk and liking it although I did not have much time for organized religion then. Why is it that no one objects to the Hunger Games, which depicts the murder of children, but picks on The Great Pumpkin? I find that to be quite a conundrum.
roger weinreb October 27, 2012 at 11:59 AM
This sounds like the type of person who fears scoring in youth athletic events. Competition breeds success. Kids learn from failure. Parents need to allow kids to be kids. Parental bullying takes many forms. That is just one of them.
Burno October 27, 2012 at 12:13 PM
Enough already. Now they're coming after Charlie Brown. I bet the guy is a big Obama supporter.
Buzz Bishop October 27, 2012 at 12:15 PM
Hi gang, thanks for continuing the conversation. I'd encourage you to read the original work instead of an interpretation of it. I think you'll better see where I'm coming from: http://blogs.babble.com/kid-scoop/2012/10/20/its-time-to-retire-charlie-brown/ Remember, my kids are 5 and 2. The age where dumb, and stupid are as harsh as f-bombs. My take is the show does not have appropriate themes for them. I think a reboot of the franchise is in order. We used to think Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany's was appropriate. People used to think blackface was hilarious. Times change, and while this may be a 'classic' of Americana, try watching it with kindergarteners and see if you don't cringe a little. Remember, my parenting lens is watching this with YOUNG kids, and that's the perspective I offer. And lest you all think I'm a crazy helicopter dad, far from it. I am actually LOUDLY complaining at parents who are "wussifying" society by holding their kids back from things like Halloween. Check this post out: http://blogs.babble.com/kid-scoop/2012/10/24/please-dont-be-the-parent-that-kills-halloween-video/
Doug October 27, 2012 at 01:03 PM
Buzz, In a day and age where children are exposed to some horrific, inappropriate images via the mass media, your earnest efforts are misplaced and your analogies are tortured. Focus on efforts that probably won't result in 15 minutes of fame, but will have a longer lasting and more positive effect on society. What you're doing now is the "illusion of movement": It may seem like you're moving forward but it really accomplishes nothing.
Annemarie October 27, 2012 at 01:04 PM
Buzz, you don't like it, don't sit your kids in front of the tv to watch it. Simple as that.
Annemarie October 27, 2012 at 01:05 PM
Spot on, Deb! ITA
B Springer October 27, 2012 at 01:09 PM
I think Bishop makes some valid points (read the whole post). I remember dragging out The Brady Bunch and Gilligan's Island for my kids and was shocked at how chauvinistic both shows were. That doesn't mean we can't watch them but I make a point of discussing the issues with my children so they don't think those stereostypes are okay. Times do change and not all of the shows and even books that we read as kids translate to society today. It's fun for parents to take a trip down memory lane but we should remember who that trip is for and sometimes leave the kids out of it.
Paula Mackenzi October 27, 2012 at 01:14 PM
Buzz Bishop, while you're advocating for "re-booting" Charlie Brown, perhaps you will consider advocating for the re-booting of all the cartoons with which I grew up: Roadrunner (clearly, Roadrunner had murderous intents every show); Tom and Jerry (how many times did Tom get blown up?) and the Flintstones, the Jetsons. In each of those shows, you can find your definition of "bullying" or some theme of extreme violence, etc. And lest us not forget Lost In Space and the illustrious Dr. Smith who was ALWAYS bullying the poor robot ("you babbling blithering bubbleheaded booby, clanking clod, scrap metal insensitive idiot, dunderheaded doddering fool, etc. etc.) And how about poor Gilligan from Gilligan's Island? He was constantly being "bullied" by the crew for his fumbling bumbling efforts. The Three Stooges? oh of COURSE they promote intense and extreme violence with their constant physical attacks upon one another. Funny - my brother and I grew up watching them AND Charlie Brown and neither one of us grew up to be thugs or bullies. My son watches Charlie Brown every year but yet he makes straight As, is a loving, compassionate kid who reaches out to those who are shy, wants to adopt all the animals at our local animal shelter and gets MAD that Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson were discriminated against because of the color of their skin. Charlie Brown? Really? I suppose you want to fire Big Bird, too?
Christine Russell October 27, 2012 at 01:17 PM
Take it as an opportunity to explain to your kids how things were different when this show first aired, just as I've had to do with Bugs Bunny and Tom & Jerry. Highlight the differences between the way kids spoke to each other in the past and the fortunately polite way they are required to speak to each other especially in schools today. Be an involved parent and see this as a teaching opportunity, not a reason to legislate away television programming simply because you don't wish your child to get the wrong message. Oh, and for the record, I'm an Obama supporter.
Vineyard Worker October 27, 2012 at 01:33 PM
I think Peanuts is an accurate depiction of life from both a child's and adult's perspective. Peanuts teaches empathy, perseverance and righteousness all while tackling the issue of bullying. It is a great teaching tool.
Elizabeth Natenshon October 27, 2012 at 01:49 PM
With all the violence video games and movies this is not the threat. Everything cannot be banned! Parents need to do their part and dialogue with the kids afterwards or watch with them!
Annemarie October 27, 2012 at 02:15 PM
LOL!!!! Sonny, I hadn't realized it was the same blogger! I did see that, on some news show on tv. yes, he's gotten his 15 mins of fame.
Anna Laura Rosow October 27, 2012 at 03:06 PM
I think Buzz's children might be too young for the Great Pumpkin show and probably shouldn't watch it. I agree with Annemarie: You can always turn the show off. But I don't think I've ever met a 5-year old who hasn't at some point called someone a "stupid head." The Great Pumpkin could be a great teaching point, showing how Charlie Brown is hurt by unkind comments.
N C Morris-Dhaliwal October 27, 2012 at 03:17 PM
Oh where to begin...Watching the Great Pumpkin will make you as much of a bully as watching Spiderman will make you a SuperHero! Jeez Louise! This type of insanity is exactly what is wrong with kids and society these days...no everyone will not always like you and everyone doesn't get a prize! In winning and losing there are lessons to be learned. I was raised watching this and still cheer for Linus! Gotta admire that amount of conviction! Besides..."I got a rock!" is a classic statement. And for the love of all that is holy...bullying and teasing are two TOTALLY different things!!
Tiki October 27, 2012 at 04:14 PM
I am speechless, and that is pretty rare for me. This person needs some therapy. Don't you dare touch my Charlie Brown!
Erin Webb October 27, 2012 at 04:52 PM
I'm a little shocked by all the ad hominem attacks on Buzz Bishop (eg, Sonny Beachers, wtf). It's not ridiculous to question whether a piece of Americana is, in fact, perpetuating negative trends in American society. As members of a community, we have a responsibility to turn a critical, reflective eye to everything that flows through our culture... even TV you really, really loved when you were little. Just as the Great Pumpkin is an opportunity for kids and parents to discuss name-calling, Buzz Bishop's blog post is an opportunity for us to discuss the merits and drawbacks of censorship. So relax. That said, I completely agree with those commentors who suggest that the Great Pumpkin is a healthy opportunity for parents to engage their kids in a conversation about name-calling, bullying, etc. You can't create an environment where bad things don't happen-- and if you try to, you lose out on the chance to GUIDE your kids through those bad things. You can't litigate away all harm, and you can't pull it all off of TV. Even if you could, Charlie Brown would not be the place I'd start. Also, re: N C Morris-Dhaliwal's claim that teasing and bullying are "two TOTALLY different things"-- I think this is the misconception that underlies the enduring bullying pandemic. Teasing becomes bullying when the victim feels hated or coerced, and adults (teachers etc.) aren't generally able to monitor those feelings-- but teasing gets by because it's seen as harmless and natural.
Walt Cassell October 27, 2012 at 04:55 PM
You can always change the channel before the show comes on. Its not like they are being forced to watch it at school or daycare. I thought at tis age parents monitored what children watch. This is ramapnt everywhere across the country now. No one can lose at soccer, no one can lose at baseball. Everyone is a winner, Wait until life smacks these kids in the face.
Wendy Schapiro October 27, 2012 at 04:58 PM
Beautifully put, Erin. As a teacher and a parent, thank you :)
Deb October 28, 2012 at 04:46 PM
Your comment is totally irrelevant - I posted above defending Charlie but I also support Obama. The two are not mutually exclusive.
Christian November 01, 2012 at 03:23 AM
This is unbelievable!!! We're seriously just raising a nation of kids who are made to believe that life is just one big soft fluffy ball of political correctness. It's not! You'll get knocked down sometimes...sometimes a lot...Charlie brown and the peanuts gang is genius in that charlie brown always gets bullied yet still has an ability to bring everyone together and make everyone stop and think about what a great time life really is... Once again, to say this is a program unfit for kids is crazy...my response is you sir are unfit to parent...
Jenn November 01, 2012 at 04:49 PM
Sorry I know I am supposed to say they are being overly this and hyper that but it's true. I grew up loving so much about the Great Pumpkin, but to be honest, I was always uncomfortable with the adults giving Charlie only rocks, especially as a kid. The fact is, all you need to do is watch it with young children (which I have with my two girls) and you know the answer is yes, it's cringe worthy. In households of young children, where stupid is almost a four letter word... they turn and look at you like- is that supposed to be funny? I can watch it with them now, but when they were 5 and 8 it was uncomfortable.
K November 01, 2012 at 05:01 PM
Charlie Brown is great for kids! Not showing any form of bullying in any media will not magically make it cease to exist, in fact, it will probably make bullied kids feel more alienated from their peers. Conversations about what happened when instances of sexism, bullying, violence, etc should happen! You can't just let the television parent your children for you! On a separate rant, I'm sorry but, "the fortunately polite way they are required to speak to each other especially in schools today"? If anything, children are MORE rude to one another AND to teachers and staff - behind backs, to faces, and especially via social media. When school authorities try to maintain order and discipline when students are witnessed doing such acts, parents will jump in their "victimized" child's defense instead of trying to wrap their minds around the fact that their child is not a polite angel sent to grace the school with his/her presence. Yes, the rules in schools on name-calling, bullying, etc are stricter - but the parents feel their child is exempt from the disciplinary actions that result from it. Schools will acquiesce to prevent legal action. Schools have become service institutions where the parents expect to be waited on hand and foot by the teachers and administration. It's ridiculous.


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