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Ban Charlie Brown over bullying? Good grief!

Susan Reimer: Some parents think classic holiday cartoons show a bad example for today's kids

Susan Reimer

2:13 PM EDT, October 31, 2012

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A daddy blogger wrote this month that the Halloween video "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" should be retired from viewing by this generation of kids because its title character is bullied and harassed throughout.

Charlie Brown's friends call him a blockhead, and even the adults are mean to him — while the other kids get candy in their treat bags, Charlie Brown gets rocks.

"My boys are 5 and 2. Young kids," said Buzz Bishop, the writer behind DadCamp on Babble.com. "They're at the age where words like "stupid" and "dumb" are as bad as a four letter word that rhymes with fire truck.

"Apart from being a cartoon, and having kids in costume, there's nothing of value for children in the show. Linus' blind faith in a Great Pumpkin is never rewarded other than to promise Charlie Brown he'll try again next year."

And he abhors the war images in Snoopy's World War I fantasy.

In the comments that followed, he was soundly ridiculed for being a wimp and a ridiculously PC parent. One critic told him to block the doors and windows and go to the basement with his wife and kids, where they could just be nice to each other all day long.

And some disagreed more politely, writing that Charlie Brown is a kid-sized example of what bullying looks like and he teaches a lesson in perseverance.

I was left wondering, what would be the point of a popular Charlie Brown?

Not to be outdone, a special education professor at Long Island University in New York appeared on Fox & Friends to say that the treatment Rudolph gets at the North Pole amounts to bullying, too.

"The whole community of the North Pole is into exclusion, not inclusion," said George Giuliani, who has written an alternative Christmas tale called, "No more Bullies at the North Pole."

He points out that when Comet, the head reindeer, realizes that Rudolph's nose glows, he banishes him and tells the other reindeer to "never let him play in any reindeer games."

"What a terrible message to send to children," he said in an interview with ABCNews.com

For those of us who have been around the parenting block, this kind of griping isn't new.

In the tales of Cinderella and Hansel and Gretel, stepmothers take a terrible bashing. Snow White and Sleeping Beauty endure frightening ordeals.

Even "Fantasia" isn't all dancing hippos and fairies. "Night on Bald Mountain" is terrifying, even for an adult. And the glaring eyes of the sorcerer in "Sorcerer's Apprentice" still send me diving for the covers.

Don't get me started on flying monkeys and witches with green skin.

So, this is the part where I say that our kids turned out OK despite what we subjected them to in the name of classic entertainment. It turns out that children who watched "A Christmas Story" do not grow up to get their tongues stuck on frozen flagpoles.

I recently spent some time in front of the television with my grandson, who is just shy of 2 years old, and I found the scrubbed and sanitized cartoons available on the cable stations to be absolutely mind-numbing, even the ones on public television. Especially the ones on public television.

So I popped in a VHS tape of Disney's "Sleeping Beauty," which is practically an antique, and we watched Flora, Fauna and Merryweather sprinkle the long-awaited baby princess with their good wishes before bundling her off into the forest to hide her from the evil fairy Maleficent. (The role to be played by Angelina Jolie in the upcoming remake, by the way.)

But when the three fairies returned Aurora to the castle on the day of her 16th birthday and she began to climb the stairs where the deadly spindle awaited, I snapped the video off.

No point scaring the baby. He can do that himself when he is old enough to watch "Jaws."

Susan Reimer's column appears Mondays and Thursdays. She can be reached at susan.reimer@baltsun.com and @Susan Reimer on twitter.com

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