Court with with an Alienator – A Charlie Brown Perspective

peanuts - charlie brown football

Last Halloween I watched, “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.” The Great Pumpkin came out in 1966 and I hadn’t watched it since I was a child. What really impacted me watching it this time was the famous “Football Gag.” If you’ve watched any of the Charlie Brown TV Specials, you know this scene–Charlie Brown goes to kick the football, Lucy pulls the football away and Charlie Brown lands on his back in pain.

Charles Schulz, the writer of the comic strip Peanuts, has many variations on this “Football Gag” and you can read all about it here at the Peanuts Wiki. I didn’t even know it was called a “gag” until I started writing this piece. I don’t think it is very funny. I would call it bullying.

In the Great Pumpkin version of the Football Gag, Charlie Brown refuses to kick the ball until Lucy signs an agreement “testifying” that she will not pull the ball away. Of course, Lucy pulls the ball away and its the same old story. Lucy excuses her contract violation by finding a loophole and she tells Charlie Brown that the agreement wasn’t notarized.

Many, many parents go to the courts to try and get help to just see their children. These parents generally receive signed agreements from the courts–signed by the courts and also the other parent. Then, when it comes time to try and see their children, there always seems to be some loophole, some reason that these parents are not allowed access to their children. The courts and the other parent are there to tell everyone, “if only you had done something differently, then you would be able to see your child.” Its just like Charlie Brown and Lucy–does anyone really think that Lucy will ever let Charlie Brown kick that football. Does anyone really think that a notarized agreement or any other agreement from Lucy will actually help Charlie Brown? (Although, look at the clip below from 1982 where Lucy actually holds the ball for Charlie Brown, it shows another aspect of Lucy’s bullying.) I think the “Football Gag” is a great analogy for what happens in court.

Have fun watching Lucy bullying Charlie Brown in the football gags compiled below.

Peanuts Court
Lucy pulls the football away from Charlie Brown. The Alienating Parent denies the Target Parent Access to the children.
Lucy violates her agreement and makes excuses. The Alienating Parent violates their agreement and makes excuses.
Lucy convinces Charlie Brown of her good intentions. The Alienating Parent convinces the Target Parent of good intentions.
Charlie Brown thinks a different situation will change Lucy's behavior. The Target Parent thinks something different will change and will allow him/her to see the children.
Lucy gloats over Charlie Brown and tells him to try a new sport. The Alienating Parent gloats about court victory and tell the Target Parent to give up.
With everyone watching at the "big game" Charlie Brown thinks Lucy will let him kick the football. With courts and therapists watching the Target Parent thinks the Alienating Parent will allow access to the children.
Charlie Brown tries to kick the football when Lucy is distracted. The Target Parent waits for opportune moments to try and gain access to Children. Nothing seems to help the Target Parent.
When Charlie Brown gets the upper hand he gloats. If the Target Parent ever gets the upper hand he/she gloats about it and thinks Lucy will have learned her lesson.
Charlie Brown accidentally kicks Lucy and Charlie Brown feels sorry. Lucy capitalizes on the situation and blames Charlie Brown for all the problems. Something happens in court that actually favors the Target Parent and the Target Parent apologizes to the Alienating parent. The Alienating Parent capitalizes on the situation to excuse further bad behavior.
Charlie Brown is always pretty quick to forgive Lucy. He just wants to kick the ball. The Target Parent is quick to forgive the Alienating Parent. The Target parent just wants access to the children.
[Family Guy] Charlie Brown gets help from Family Guy father. The Family Guy father gives Lucy a beating. The Target Parent gets help from the government. The courts give a beating to either or both of the Alienating Parent and Target Parent.
(Robot Chicken) Charlie Brown kicks Lucy and calls her a "bitch." The Target Parent retaliates against the Alienating Parent. The Alienating Parent uses this violence and name calling against the Target Parent to further restrict access to the children.

I think the two modern spin-offs are particularly interesting. When you watch the Family Guy and Robot Chicken, how do you feel when you watch Lucy getting beat and kicked? Do you feel like Charlie Brown is vindicated? Do you feel like the violence went a little too far? Do you wish that there was a nonviolent solution? Do you think that perhaps the violence against Lucy made the situation even worse for the future? Did you care about how Lucy felt?

In my view, Lucy is a monster. She breaks promises. She is mean and doesn’t care about others. She takes joy in the misery of others. She appeals to the morality and good of others in order to take advantage of them. In short, she is a monster. But, no one deserves the beating that she is given by the family guy. I’m sure most would excuse Charlie Brown when he kicks her (even when he kicks her maliciously in Robot Chicken), but my guess (and hope) is that most of us don’t like this violence perpetrated against the monster Lucy.

What is Charlie Brown to do? Should he just accept the bullying? Most of us would probably advise Charlie Brown to just walk away and not deal with Lucy. Unfortunately, with the children involved, walking away is not a very good option for the Target Parent. What can a Target Parent do to gain access to the children?


The Videos

Just a quick note. I tried to add clips of the “Football Gag” here, but youtube might take them down. So you might have to find the clips yourself. I think most of the Charlie Brown shows are available to watch on youtube, so just look them up.

1966 – It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

Lucy signs an agreement to let Charlie Brown kick the ball. Lucy violates her agreement and excuses her behavior because the document wasn’t notarized.

Peanuts 1966 10 Charlie Brown Great Pumpkin Football


1973 – A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

Lucy talks about the importance of tradition and the honor of kicking the football on Thanksgiving. After she pulls the ball away, Lucy tell Charlie Brown, “Isn’t it peculiar Charlie Brown, how some traditions just slowly fade away.”

Peanuts 1973 11 Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Football


1975 – You’re a Good Sport, Charlie Brown

Charlie Brown makes a few false passes at the ball to see if Lucy will pull the ball away. Charlie Brown decides that Lucy is serious so he goes to kick the ball. Lucy, of course, pulls the ball away. After Charlie Brown misses the ball, Lucy rubs it in and say, “Maybe you ought to try a new sport Charlie Brown.”

Peanuts 1975 10 Youre A Good Sport football 2


1977 – It’s Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown

Charlie Brown and Lucy are on the same football team and an important game is in progress. Lucy convinces that she wouldn’t pull the ball away in an “important game.” Of course, Lucy pulls the ball away, Charlie Brown is tackled by the other team and he is accused by his team mates of blowing the kick-off.

Peanuts 1977 10 Its Your First Kiss football


1981 – Its Magic, Charlie Brown

In this show, Snoopy magically turns Charlie Brown invisible and he is able to kick the ball when Lucy can’t see him. Charlie Brown gloats that he was able to kick the ball. Later in the show, Snoopy turns Charlie Brown visible and Lucy is able to pull the ball away. At the end of the show, Snoopy levitates Lucy followed by Charlie Brown and Snoopy running off into the sunset.

Peanuts 1981- Its Magic Charlie Brown – Football Gag


1982 – A Charlie Brown Celebration

Charlie Brown is sick and Lucy feels badly for Charlie Brown. Lucy wants Charlie Brown to get better because, “I need someone to hit!” Lucy makes a promise that if she gets well, she will never pull the football away. Charlie Brown gets well and visits Lucy to kick the football. Amazingly, Lucy fulfills her promise and holds the football. But, Charlie Brown misses the football and kicks Lucy’s hand! Charlie Brown nicely apologizes to Lucy for this. Lucy complains about her hurt hand.

Peanuts 1982 05 Charlie Brown Celebration Football


1994 – You’re in the Super Bowl, Charlie Brown

Lucy almost gets Charlie Brown to attempt a kick by stating, “Don’t you trust me Charlie Brown? Are you one of those people who’s going to go through life without trusting anyone? That’s no way to live Charlie Brown.” Charlie Brown thinks for a bit and says, “Maybe she’s right. A person can’t go through life always doubting everything and not trusting anyone.”

Charlie Brown is saved at the last minute when other friends show up and distract Lucy. Charlie Brown tries to take advantage of Lucy being distracted and he tries to kick the ball while Lucy is looking the other way. Of course, Lucy pulls the ball away at the last minute.

Peanuts 1994 01 Your In The Superbowl Charlie Brown Football


The Family Guy

Lucy pulls the ball away from Charlie Brown. The Family Guy father, Peter Griffin, arrives and gives Lucy a beating. Peter commands Lucy to hold the ball for Charlie Brown to kick. Peter gives Lucy a few extra kicks at the end of the clip.

Peanuts Family Guy Football Gag


Robot Chicken – Great Pumpkin Episode

Lucy is belittling Charlie Brown as usual. When Charlie Brown goes to kick the ball and Lucy pulls the ball away, Charlie Brown kicks Lucy instead. Charlie brown then says, “That’s for years of humiliation bitch!”

Peanuts Robot Chicken Great Pumpkin Football Gag


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