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Breakdown: “Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown”
February 15, 2013Posted by on
I love Peanuts. Snoopy. Charlie Brown. The music. All of it. And, Peanuts is one of the few properties which has worked in every media which it has been adapted to. A Charlie Brown Christmas is a staple of my holidays. Over the past 40 years, there have been numerous specials on TV highlighting every holiday where the Peanuts gang get themselves into various hijinks and adventures.
One of the highlights of these specials is that they never really hold back on showing the psychological issues these characters have. Of course it is done in an amusing and non-insulting way. But, one cannot deny that these characters are completely neurotic in their various ways. Probably the best special to highlight this is Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown. Centering around Valentine’s Day, all the characters are dealing with love, and they go a little crazy. But then again, is that not what love does to people?
So, I felt it would be fun to break down Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown scene-by-scene and get a closer look to our favorite Peanuts characters.
We start out with loveable loser Charlie Brown chilling by the mail box waiting for valentines to come. Lucy stops by and, in a traditional bitchy manner, gives him an unnecessary cutting remark suggesting that he will not be getting any this year. Why Charlie Brown has not decked that girl in the face after all the crap she puts him through is beyond me. I am not advocating violence against women, but given how emotionally destructive she is toward Charlie, it is amazing he has not completely snapped yet.
Anyway, now that Charlie Brown has entered his latest bout of self-loathing depression, the story shifts to the school where Linus horribly misinterprets his teacher, Miss Othmar, calling his name on the attendance list for her having the hots for him. Sally tries to knock some sense into him, but like a typical male, he does not listen and begins to creepily obsess over his teacher.
Charlie Brown, who is still at the mail box (did he even go to school?), laments at not getting any valentines yet. This (somehow) inspires Linus to get the “biggest valentines ever” for his teacher. Yep…this has no chance of failure at all.
Meanwhile, that bitch Lucy is hanging out with Schroeder as he plays some Beethoven. She babbles on about something or other while Schroeder completely ignores her. Then, being the bitch that she is, she destroys his mini piano. I am beginning to think that Lucy has some major anger issues. I bet it stems from some severe insecurities about herself which manifests as angry outbursts. If that is the case, I would say that she does not get enough attention from her father, and acts out towards other males for that attention.
I wonder why Schroeder never takes notice of her. He has to know that she is there and is totally into him, right? How can he not? And, he is a musician. Are not musicians typically use and dispose of women left and right? He has his own personal groupie right here (with possible insecurities stemming from daddy issues)! Yet, nothing!
Anyway, Linus buys a huge heart-shaped box of chocolates to give to his teacher. Sally sees this in passing and automatically assumes it is for her. Why does she think this? Linus has never given her any reason to think he has any interest. Sure, she has an unrequited crush on him, but he just was talking to her about how much he loves his teacher. Yet, Sally’s thoughts never consider the idea that the valentine might be for Miss Othmar. She is probably just a bit crazy…like stalker-level crazy. Hopefully, Linus never gets a girlfriend, because the girlfriend’s life expectancy will be suddenly cut short.
Also, oddly enough, Linus believes that the amount of money you spend on a present should be in proportion to how much you love the person. This is Linus? The same guy who saw through the crap of commercialism at Christmas time?
Later on, Lucy goes to a “Pawpet Show” put on by Snoopy and narrated by Charlie Brown. Since the show is interactive, Blue Man Group-style, Lucy gets water, mud, and trash thrown on her. During this scene, Charlie Brown has no problems with any of that happening. Part of me suspects that he was secretly behind it and got Snoopy to go in on the scam (more on why Snoopy would do this below). If this is the case, then I have to give Charlie Brown more credit. He gets his revenge, but does so quietly where no one could suspect him. Devious.
The next day, Sally is failing at making a homemade valentine for Linus. Snoopy arrives on the scene and mockingly laughs at Sally and Charlie Brown in their efforts. He then needlessly shows them up by cutting out an intricate-looking valentine. Snoopy then cuts out a heart, goes to Woodstock, and slaps it on his nose while the bird is sleeping. Since he laughs while doing it, it leads me to believe that Snoopy is an utter sociopath.
Just look at Snoopy’s actions in any of the Peanuts specials. He only does stuff that amuses him or is at the expense of others. He rarely does anything for someone else unless he gets some sort of personal gain from it. It is even in promotional pictures. Just look at the one below. He looks somewhat put out that he is helping carry Charlie Brown in a victorious way!
On Valentine’s Day, the kids gather at school for a party. Sally gives Linus her homemade valentine, and he completely acts like a frat boy by completely dismissing it. Undeterred, Sally believes Linus is just bashful. I cannot speak for anyone else, but I usually find that love stories like this usually end with a bloody knife involved.
Schroeder, who seems somewhat annoyed at this whole Valentine’s Day thing, starts to pass out the valentines. To the surprise of no one, Charlie Brown does not get any. Also to no one’s surprise, Lucy acts like a bitch again about Charlie Brown not getting any valentines. It has to be insecurities. She is slamming Charlie in order to make herself feel better. There is no other explanation.
During the party, Linus runs to give Miss Othmar her present. Unfortunately, Miss Othmar decided to leave in the middle of the class to go off with her boyfriend. Two things about this. 1) How come no one bothered to mention that Miss Othmar had a boyfriend to Linus. Seemed like everyone knew except for him. 2) More importantly, why does an elementary teacher simply abandon her classroom in the middle of the school day?! Who is watching these kids?
Linus is, of course, crushed because Miss Othmar has a boyfriend. In a sensible move, he goes to a nearby bridge and throws the candy, piece by piece, away in a fit of anger. Don’t worry, though. Snoopy and Woodstock are nearby eating each piece as it comes near them. Good thing the special is almost over. I would not want to see Snoopy’s horrible death from chocolate poisoning.
The next day, Woodstock gets his revenge on Snoopy by slapping him in the nose with a paper heart. Unfortunately, he also falls off the dog house while doing it.
The school kids come by and feel bad about not giving Charlie Brown a valentine, so Violet gives him one she got yesterday (she erases her name). Schroeder shows up and berates everyone for giving Charlie Brown a used valentine.
However, and in a wonderful subversive ending, Charlie Brown cuts off Schroeder’s defense and happily accepts the valentine. This is why I love Peanuts. They will take the unexpected route to deliver something amusing (and possibly get the audience thinking a little bit in the process).
Anyway, our tale then ends and the iconic brick wall where Charlie Brown and Linus review what they have learned. Linus is in a fit of depression and likely to kill himself. Charlie Brown, however, is excited by his one, used valentine and sets himself up for failure thinking that next year, he will get lots valentines. Ah…despite his constant self-loathing, Charlie Brown is a constant optimist.
And that is Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown. By no way am I saying it is a bad special. I quite like a lot (and let’s face it, I’m mostly having some fun here). I just love how deep this one goes to show off the various insecurities and flaws these characters have. Like By My Valentine’s subversive ending, I love how Charles M. Schultz never was afraid to explore these character traits. Though done comically, it is the ballsy move to incorporate such things in comic strip and cartoon. This Valentine’s Day special just seems like everything is heightened to a new level for some reason. It makes it all that much better!
Happy Valentine’s Day (a day late)!