Saturday, December 6, 2014

Burning Questions: Charlie and Franklin

Yes, I'm writing about a Peanuts special again. Hey, I know it's an easy label, so if you want to go ahead and call me That Guy Who Blogged about a Bunch of Different Things, Retired the Blog for Months, Then Came Back and Wrote 2 of the First 3 Posts about Peanuts, and the One in Between Was Just a Picture...well, that's fine by me.

The kids and I enjoyed another screening of "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" last week, and it was a joy to share with them some of the great moments I've enjoyed over the years: The business with Lucy and Charlie and the football (and Lucy disappearing for the rest of the program); the "Little Birdie" song; Snoopy sandbagging all the kids by making toast and popcorn, then whipping up a turkey dinner after they all leave...It's not as exciting as the Halloween and Christmas specials, but it has its one charm.

My favorite moment is when Peppermint Patty and a few of her hangers-on arrive at Chuck's house for the nice dinner she invited herself to. Charlie opens the door, and Patty and Marcie walk right through with a cordial but unspectacular greeting. However, when Franklin walks in, Charlie does a little hand mojo with him before slapping him five.

Here's something I've always wondered: Why do Charlie and Franklin share this exchange? More to the point, why do the makers of "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" include this bit? On the surface, it's a friendly little gesture, maybe nothing more, nothing less, but I wonder...

Why doesn't Charlie do this with Patty? Why does he just barely acknowledge Marcie? Is it because they're girls? Does Franklin get this distinctive treatment (from Charlie and from the creators) because he's a guy?

Maybe it's because he's the last one in the door, and only then does Charlie feel he can really "cut loose" and relax. Maybe he just hasn't seen Franklin in a while. It just looks weird that he's the only one with whom he does this.

Perhaps Charlie and Franklin are part of some secret neighborhood club and this interaction is some kind of ritual. It's possible that Franklin has brought over some gourmet chocolates for the meal (a nice move considering everyone else shows up emptyhanded) and is transferring them to Charlie so he can take them into the kitchen.

I guess one of these could explain it, but none of my ideas really hit home with me. The more I think about it, the more I just don't get it. The kid lives in the same neighborhood. He's apparently the same age. I'm pretty sure I remember that he goes to their same school. What reason could there be for the producers to single out Franklin and have HIM be the one that does a funky little "slap five" with Charlie Brown?

(On a totally unrelated note, it took me years to notice that whoever put together the DVD actually titled one of the chapters "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?")


Unknown said...

I personally think that this "jive" handshake, as it is often referred to, is simply a 'nod' to African American culture, being that this type of handshake is often used as a form of non-verbal communication between African Americans and in this case, even some of their 'non-ethnic' friends. That's just my opinion on it though.

Rick Brooks said...

Thanks for the comment! The whole reason for the post, as I hint at the end, was to dance around the fact that they made that clumsy gesture by mentioning everything BUT that fact.