My god, were the old Charlie Brown cartoons horribly depressing. You ever sit down and try to watch one of them again? They will leave you horribly distressed. No wonder Charlie Brown's got such self-esteem issues. He gets cruelly abused at every turn.
I was reminded of this watching I love the 70's on VH1. [by the way, has vh1 stopped even pretending to be a music channel anymore? i can't quite tell] They had a clip from the Thanksgiving special where Chuck is predicting the outcome of a soon to be futile effort to kick the football, and it is revealed that he expects to DIE. This is a kid's show and Charlie Brown is talking about how the ball is going to be pulled away and he'll slam down to the ground and to his DEATH. Man, they don't make kids shows like they used to.
This just reminded me, though, of how painfully depressing the Christmas Special and the Halloween Specials are. Its not just that Chuck hates himself. People really do hate him. And for no apparent reason. I mean, Charlie Brown's a nice guy, but everyone just holds him in such horrible contempt. Indeed, they often don't even know why they hate him. They know he's a fine fellow, they just don't like him. It just makes you sad. That's the appeal, though. How many of us have felt horribly lonely and unwanted? We can identify with Charlie Brown without any forced happy ending appended. Its a pity party, but that serves a purpose. We love Charlie Brown, because we feel like we know what he's going through. The redemtion doesn't have to come from the story (though there is usually some manner of happy resolution), but rather from outside the story in that we connect with Charlie and as such don't feel so lonely anymore. Because her was this dumb, put-upon, shmuck who was going through what you were going through.
Its not just Chuck, though. The whole Peanuts gang are a veritable living (well...) encyclopedia of pyschological problems. Something for everyone, I supposed. Chronically depressed? Charlie's your man. Obsessively lovelorn? Just check our Sally (or Charlie, or Lucy, or Patty...). Unwilling to join the real world? Just grab a security blanket like Linus. Lucy is cruel to hide her own unfufilled longing, Schroader is an egotist, Snoopy has delusions of granduer, Marcie is a socially inept submissive, and Patty is basically abandoned by her parents and DCS case waiting to happen. But, it all works because their flaws are allowed. They are permitted to be flawed, depressed little kids. And, from these depths come great insight and philosophy. Such is life. You find your happiness where you can, and you endure the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. We are all blockheads.