You are viewing muskrat_john

Dork Tidings

Muskrat Ramblings for Now People


December 8th, 2009

My friend Leon's Open letter to ABC. Please share. @ 10:35 pm

Current Location: Muskrat Den
Current Music: Vince Gueraldi

TO: ABC
FROM: Leon Lynn
RE: Desecration of "A Charlie Brown Christmas"
12/8/09

Dear ABC,

How could you?

For years and years I have awaited the network broadcast of "A Charlie Brown Christmas" as the true herald of the holiday season. I brought my kids up with the same tradition -- one which has been made no less special for us by the fact that they happen to be Jewish.

Tonight we sat in horror and watched what you have done to the single greatest cartoon ever made.

How many minutes did you cut out of "A Charlie Brown Christmas" so you could run more commercials?

Gone was Sally's materialistic letter to Santa, which finally sends Charlie screaming from the room when she says she will settle for 10s and 20s.

Gone was Schroeder's miraculous multiple renditions of "Jingle Bells" from a toy piano, including the one that sounds distinctly like a church organ.

Gone was Linus using his blanket as an improvised slingshot to knock a can off the fence no one else can hit, complete with ricochet sound effect.

Gone were the kids catching snowflakes on their tongues and commenting on their flavor.

Gone even was poor Shermy's only line. He thought he had it bad because he was always tasked to play a shepherd. He had no idea.

And why were all these classic scenes cut? To plug more ads into the show, of course. To sell burgers and greeting cards -- and to relentlessly plug the insipid-looking new Disney "soon to be a classic" show immediately following. (I didn't watch the new show, by the way. I was laid far too low by what had just happened.)

Cramming all of these ads into the 30-minute broadcast of "A Charlie Brown Christmas" required major edits to a cartoon that has spent 44 years now trying to remind us that Christmas is supposed to transcend crass commercialism.

Do you have no sense of irony?

A couple of weeks ago I noted that you can now buy a plastic replica of the pathetic little real-wood Christmas tree Charlie Brown brings home from the tree lot otherwise monopolized by shiny fake trees. I thought we had sunk as low as we could.

Obviously I was wrong.

Oh, and by the way: The sound was half a second behind the picture: They were not synched properly. I thought this was pretty sloppy for a major TV network, but I was willing to look past it.

What I cannot look past is the chopping to bits of a genuine classic, not just to pump more ads at us, but in direct conflict with the message that has made it a classic.

When I was a kid, the annual broadcast of "A Charlie Brown Christmas" was a holiday unto itself. It was the only time we ever saw ads for Dolly Madison snack cakes, for one thing. But more importantly, it actually framed the coming holiday for me in a meaningful way.

The shepherds in their fields had no corporate sponsors. Nobody had bought the naming rights for the manger. The infant Jesus did not have an endorsement deal lined up with a particular line of swaddling clothes.

Instead he came, the story goes, to preach universal love, and the abandonment of false ideals like the acquisition of gross material wealth in favor of something far more valuable.

You have not just lost sight of this, or turned your backs on it. You have stomped it into the mud.

You should be ashamed of yourselves.

But I bet you aren't. I bet you're way past that.

Count my family out for next year.


Sincerely,

Leon Lynn
 
Share  |  |

Comments

Page 1 of 2 - [1] [2]
[User Picture Icon]
From:kuroshii
Date:December 9th, 2009 04:43 am (UTC)
(Link)
eegads.
[User Picture Icon]
From:atari_eric
Date:December 10th, 2009 07:41 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I think you mean, "Good Grief".
[User Picture Icon]
From:brotherflounder
Date:December 9th, 2009 04:51 am (UTC)
(Link)
Yikes. I remember the days when ABC was hailed as awesome because, unlike CBS, they didn't cut half of the special out to fit it into a 30-minute timeslot. *sigh*
[User Picture Icon]
From:kiwiblogdotcom
Date:December 9th, 2009 05:08 am (UTC)
(Link)
I'm going to be honest - I have never seen 'A Charlie Brown Christmas'. I have read the history behind the special and have always wanted to perform Linus's monologue at a church service, but it has never aired here on New Zealand television.

I do, however, have a copy of it. I did obtain it via 'questionable' methods and perhaps I'll put it on a flashdrive and watch it with family. If I ever get the opportunity to purchase it, I will - it's an important turning point on how the world viewed Christmas.

It saddens me how something as special and important to American culture has ended up being cut for adverts. I do accept subsequent screenings were trimmed every so slighty to remove the Coca-Cola sponsorship back in the day, but this is an abomination.

I do hope ABC offer the public and the Schulz estate an apology for their treatment.

I will be linking to this letter in my twitter profile.
[User Picture Icon]
From:brotherflounder
Date:December 9th, 2009 05:13 am (UTC)
(Link)
The only edits due to removing the Coca-Cola sponsorship are hardly noticeable to current audiences. One is removing Linus flying into a Coca-Cola billboard (after a tussle with Snoopy for his blanket), and the other is the very end of the credits, showing Coke's sponsorship again. They were only shown on the very first two airings and so most people who either didn't see that or haven't listened to the soundtrack simply don't know there's a bit more.

But the cuts ABC is making are ridiculous. This went far beyond what CBS ever did to the special. If they're going to cut all the good character moments out, they may as well just show Linus's monologue and be done with it.
[User Picture Icon]
From:kiwiblogdotcom
Date:December 9th, 2009 05:14 am (UTC)
(Link)
[User Picture Icon]
From:kagomeshuko
Date:December 9th, 2009 08:07 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I'll digg it, too! *going to link*
[User Picture Icon]
From:westbeilschmidt
Date:December 9th, 2009 05:18 am (UTC)
(Link)
Unbelievable.

I'm going to post this to my facebook.
[User Picture Icon]
From:kagomeshuko
Date:December 9th, 2009 08:07 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Me too
[User Picture Icon]
From:tangerinpenguin
Date:December 9th, 2009 05:46 am (UTC)
(Link)
Is there a list of the advertisers anywhere?
[User Picture Icon]
From:beezelbubbles
Date:December 9th, 2009 06:02 am (UTC)
(Link)
Sadness. I started watching with my daughter, (her first time!) but we didnt' get very far in before we ran into dinner time woes. So I recorded it. Now I'm wondering if I should bother sitting down to watch with her, or try grabbing the dvd instead.
I'm posting this to Facebook.
[User Picture Icon]
From:kwhiteshark
Date:December 9th, 2009 06:29 am (UTC)
(Link)
That's just not right. Putting this out on Facebook and Twitter.
[User Picture Icon]
From:selinker
Date:December 9th, 2009 10:08 am (UTC)
(Link)
Rats.
[User Picture Icon]
From:autumnsfire
Date:December 9th, 2009 01:08 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Awesome letter.

I missed it this year, but after hearing WHAT they cut (some of my favorite scenes), I won't be watching it next year at all.
[User Picture Icon]
From:awfulhorrid
Date:December 9th, 2009 01:59 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Aside from Linus's monologue, what's left exactly? I actually can remember a bit more, but with so many scenes being cut it's hard for me to imagine what's left.

Really ABC, I'm not even Christian and I find this offensive.
[User Picture Icon]
From:dave_iii
Date:December 9th, 2009 04:09 pm (UTC)
(Link)
For the most part, the entire special is an excuse to watch the characters in their first animated special (Not their first animated thing ever, though, they did a Ford commercial the year before) and generally have a reasonably ham-fisted message about how, to exclude any overt religious issues, the whole point of the season is to pause and reflect on the things that are truly important: family, friendship, compassion, etc., as opposed to materialism, unnecessary stress, and all the things that distract us.

Well, that's my interpretation, anyway.
[User Picture Icon]
From:jacylrin
Date:December 9th, 2009 02:29 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Oh, fer crying out loud...

This is why we give up and only watch things on DVD. Or maybe on DVR so we can fast forward, but that would still leave overcuts.
[User Picture Icon]
From:ursus_trollkin
Date:December 9th, 2009 02:54 pm (UTC)
(Link)
It's ironic, just yesterday, I was thinking how every single movie and Christmas "special" in the last 30 years, while ranging from good to utterly tasteless, none the less managed to miss entirely the true meaning of Christmas. Then I remembered that one special hadn't, the Charlie Brown Christmas Special, got it right on the nose. Now I hear about this. Makes me miss television less and less. I'm glad I bought it on dvd several years ago.
[User Picture Icon]
From:mpceccato
Date:December 9th, 2009 03:16 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Well said. At least ABC will re-air the show next week in its hour long format. But well said.
[User Picture Icon]
From:kagomeshuko
Date:December 9th, 2009 08:09 pm (UTC)
(Link)
OH, they will? Yayness! Gotta make sure I watch it wherever I am! I might be traveling with my mom to go get my sister from college, but we'll be stopped for the day by the time it airs!
[User Picture Icon]
From:timewalker
Date:December 9th, 2009 03:31 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Sadly, most of the press is going on about the "controversy" of President Obama's speech pre-empting Charlie Brown.
[User Picture Icon]
From:kagomeshuko
Date:December 9th, 2009 08:09 pm (UTC)
(Link)
No Charlie Brown Christmas is better than a terribly cut one!
[User Picture Icon]
From:dave_iii
Date:December 9th, 2009 03:57 pm (UTC)
(Link)
And the networks wonder why people are dropping cable for DVDs and internet broadcasting for their TV fixes.
[User Picture Icon]
From:ohio_geek
Date:December 9th, 2009 04:17 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I guess I'll have to watch the downloaded version off of iTunes or PS3.
[User Picture Icon]
From:scribe_ari
Date:December 9th, 2009 04:33 pm (UTC)
(Link)
This is why I went out and bought copies of these specials so that I could watch them as they were meant to be seen. I hate the networks now. Whatever happened to the promise of "no commercials" when you get cable?
[User Picture Icon]
From:greyduck
Date:December 9th, 2009 05:01 pm (UTC)
(Link)
...What the everloving WHAT?

I should've known that nothing at all is sacred anymore, but still... this is infuriating.
[User Picture Icon]
From:julietvalcouer
Date:December 9th, 2009 05:07 pm (UTC)
(Link)
As I own "A Charlie Brown Christmas" on DVD (in all its unedited glory), I wasn't even aware it was on last night. I was watching NCIS.

However as a shareholder of the parent company of this network, I'll send along my complaint (how dare they edit a classic) with the letter pointing out that it's not in fact a good idea to risk the wrath of the lwa by making the villain in their new movie look like Baron Samedi.

And I will probably buy that sad little tree once it's on sale after the hols. But I will collect anything with a Peanuts character on it. It's not commercialism. It's a form of OCD.
[User Picture Icon]
From:zephyrmev
Date:December 9th, 2009 05:57 pm (UTC)
(Link)
It might be a bokur being rided by Baron Samedi! All xmass sps are cut now! :(
[User Picture Icon]
From:skyjammer
Date:December 9th, 2009 06:45 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Here's the thing. If we hadn't had President Obama preempt Charlie Brown LAST week, we would've seen the full show.

In past years, ABC has shown "A Charlie Brown Christmas" twice -- the first time is part of an hour long time slot where "A Charlie Brown Christmas" runs past 8:30/7:30 Central time, so that it is uncut. The rest of the hour is usually Christmas/Winter-themed Charlie Brown vignettes. The second airing is always the cut version, so that it fits in a 30 minute time slot, like it did last night.

ABC has scheduled the full version to re-air on December 15: http://tvlistings.zap2it.com/tv/a-charlie-brown-christmas/EP00481761 . Let's wait and see if it's uncut then.

[User Picture Icon]
From:gdwessel
Date:December 9th, 2009 06:48 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Hi, found this via Digg.

Man, I had no idea it was even on last night (I know last week's airing got pre-empted by the President). They seriously made all these edits? That's horrific. Even moreso as I know last year's airing did NOT have all these edits.

Ridiculous.

But, there's DVD and YouTube to satisfy the kids' (and mine!) need to see it this year.

Bollocks to ABC and Disney.
[User Picture Icon]
From:kobold_8769
Date:December 9th, 2009 07:51 pm (UTC)
(Link)
skyjammer's comment pretty much covers what I know about it.

But at least most of you have gotten to watch it by now. Those of us in the DFW area had it preempted again because the station here ran a "special edition" of their morning show in that timeslot. (We also lost out on "Prep & Landing" 'cause of this.)
[User Picture Icon]
From:kagomeshuko
Date:December 9th, 2009 08:05 pm (UTC)
(Link)
We had the "jingle bells" and Shermy's line, but we were missing the rest, too. Very sad. Where's "I only eat January snowflakes."

My mom and I have lines from the show that we love to say when they are coming up in the show.

Dork Tidings

Muskrat Ramblings for Now People