Let’s face it: “A Charlie Brown Christmas” (which reaches the half-century mark on December 9) was spawned in a whole different world.
Can you imagine what the holiday classic would be like it if were being produced in the cultural and political environment that is 2015?
For one thing, the network would be terribly tempted to rename the whole thing “A Charlotte Brown Christmas.” Our lovable loser would mainly have lost some of his Original Equipment, would bemoan the commercialization of hormone therapy and would struggle to find the true meaning of XY chromosomes.
That opening scene of the “Peanuts” children ice skating and singing “Christmas Time Is Here”? They would be super-hoarse, since they would have been singing since shortly after Independence Day.
Sally’s dictation of her letter to Santa would still be there, but in politically correct form. (“Please note the size and color of each item, and send as many as possible. If it seems too complicated...well, boo-hoo, you privileged white cracker!”)
Obviously, the part of Snoopy would be played by Grumpy Cat. (“Ever since I was a kitten, I’ve IDENTIFIED as an anthropomorphic Christmas-lights-stringing beagle.”)
The phenomenon of “helicopter parenting” would affect the script. When Linus declares, “Of all the Charlie Browns in the world, you’re the Charlie Browniest,” he would add, “but I have a participation ribbon for all the other Charlie Browns so they don’t feel left out.”
Charlie Brown’s visit to Lucy’s psychiatric booth? It would be gone, because financial guru Dave Ramsey conditioned Charlie Brown to save a six-month emergency fund before spending the nickel.
Remember Frieda’s line “Do innkeepers’ wives have naturally curly hair?” Today she’d be busted for PROFILING.
Certainly Charlie Brown would declare “Pig Pen, you’re the only person I know who can LITERALLY leave a CARBON FOOTPRINT in a snowstorm.”
When Charlie Brown wails, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?”, Linus would retort, “That’s a got’cha question. I refuse to dignify it.”
But then Linus would reluctantly quote scripture. My wife assumes that the secular-minded producers wouldn’t dare to use the birth narrative from the Gospel According To Luke at all, but I think they would hold their noses and mention the Almighty if the Almighty Dollar could be made. We’d just be subjected to scrolling ads such as “BOGO sale on swaddling clothes”, “No room at the inn? There’s an app for that!” and “Think of Jesus as just a good teacher? Remember the good teachers in your life with these fleece-lined...”
Remember the kids waving their arms around and magically transforming Charlie Brown’s puny sapling into a full-fledged Christmas tree? If the show were being produced today, they would wave their arms around and magically make a $15-an-hour minimum wage not drive a mom-and-pop operation out of business.
The carol “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” would not exactly send the shepherds rushing to Bethlehem in today’s environment. (“Maybe I’ll hark when I get back from vacation. I’m more into binge-harking nowadays. I’ve got six months’ worth of ‘woes’ and a whole season of ‘repents’ to catch up on.”)
That climactic shout of “Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown”? That would be replaced with “Have an ambiguously festive cup from Starbucks, Charlie Brown!”
But what do I know? I never got my picture on a bubblegum card, did I? *Sigh* Merry Christmas, Beethoven.
Danny welcomes email responses at email@example.com and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades”