/Last night at the Aldersgate Christmas Talent Show, one little girl got up and read a news article for us! At first I was a little confused but quickly realized that she was, in fact, making one of the most important contributions of the night.
The Charlie Brown Christmas Special is the longest running cartoon special in the history of the entire world. It will turn 50 in the 2015! Talk about success! As a business student, my first thoughts are financial and a little too nerdy for this post. But, basically, CBS is making out big time with 50 years of advertising dollars and little to no additional investment costs each year so their profit margins on this program are likely unheard of in TV!
The point of the article that this little girl read to a captivated audience was that this Christmas special almost never happened. Why? CBS execs felt the American public would not receive the religious themes well and that the special would ultimately be unsuccessful (they also didn’t like the lack of laugh track or the use of real children voices).
The execs at CBS (who are now making bank from this special) were especially offended that Linus recited directly from Luke 2: 8-14 KJV. They asked Charles Schulz – who says “there will always be an audience for innocence in this country” – if he would take out the Bible verse and he refused.
We now know that the special was incredibly successful, airing in over 15 million homes (there were only about 30 million possible homes with TVs at the time).
Religious themes in mainstream media are a contentious topic. These days, social media gives almost anyone a platform to complain about everything and TV execs have responded by becoming overly cautious in political correctfulness (new word). If the Charlie Brown Christmas special aired today, there is a very real possibility it would be pulled when people started taking to their blogs to condemn CBS, spread the feelings of dissent to their friends and followers, and then let that dissent snowball to members of the public who just want to pick a side on a debate that they have little to no stake in.
I find hope in the Charlie Brown story because it indicates that the American public is not only receptive to but wants to stop relegating God to outside of our mainstream entertainment.
Other sources of hope:
- Major motion pictures like “Noah” and “Exodus”
- After the Duggar family came under attack with a petition to cancel their reality tv show, a counter petition in support of their freedom of speech to stand by their convictions, surpassed the original in signees.
- No one can really argue with the brilliance that is Carrie Underwood’s new song, “Something in the Water” and it has become wildly popular (rightfully so).
I don’t want God compartmentalized. I want to see him and see reminders of him everywhere! Over 75% of Americans identify as Christians so I’m betting I’m not alone!
I’m thankful for the CBS decision to air the Charlie Brown Christmas special and I can’t wait to watch it this year.
PS. Check out this awesome article by Richard Stearns (president, World Vision) on this topic!