Good grief

"Sometimes I lie awake at night, and ask, 'Where have I gone wrong?' Then a voice says to me, 'This is going to take more than one night.'"

"" Charles M. Schulz

Charles M. Schulz's Charlie Brown Christmas is a landmark of visionary animation. The "amateurish" drawings of Charlie Brown only mask the incredible production and thought put into this classic Christmas story. I never noticed the advanced filming techniques used until I watched it again last week. There are camera angle shifts, an amazing musical score, beautiful colors, and a challenging plot. This plot is Charlie Brown's anguish over Christmas becoming commercialized. We laugh at the absurdity of a child recognizing this deep-seeded American fault but we also have not paid enough attention to this part of the story. America is commercialized nation, so connected to the gluttony of consumerism that we are not even aware that consumerism is a problem.

I know America has not learned the lesson Schulz preached through his Christmas story because I watched the more recent Charlie Brown Christmas special, "It's Christmas Time Again, Charlie Brown." This cartoon was released in 1992 and dramatically deviates from the original. The animation is the same but no special film techniques are used to spice the animation. Charlie Brown does not mention a word about American commercialism, nor is Charlie Brown a central character of the plot. Instead, this cartoon is another episode to further promote the Peanuts franchise.

Yet, what is wrong with commercialism and consumerism? These are good things for our economy. More people have jobs because of consumerism. How could consumerism and commercialism lead our country astray? Commercialism takes the ideas, philosophy, and abstract qualities of life and tramples them underfoot. Commercialism has transformed Christmas into something unrecognizable. What was once the highlight of a Christian's year is now a reason to give and expect gifts. I oppose the celebration of a holiday that holds little more meaning than "that day when we eat turkey, get presents, and stay home from work." Holidays should hold more meaning. Otherwise, they are not worth celebrating.

Christmas should be the time of the year when you enjoy the company of those you love. This should not translate into excellent gift giving, but conversation and helping family and loved ones. The time we get off work should be spent appreciating those we do not see often or will not get to see much more of. I know I am not writing anything particularly new or eye opening, but we hear this warning so often because we cannot stop ourselves from consuming.

When I have a day off, what do I do with that day? I can do all sorts of things: sleep in, watch a movie, read a book, visit my family, cook a spectacular dinner, or go exploring. However, almost everything I can do is attached to consumerism. I must purchase or own something in order to do anything. To do anything outside of my house, I must travel. In order to travel, I must own a car and spend money on gas. I cannot get around this aspect of American lifestyle. Consumerism is so completely integrated into our lives that our cities and roads are built not for convenience or efficiency but for the automobile and fuel industry. We hardly ever think about spending money because we spend a lot every day. While we can also call this the incredible affluence of America, I call it the foundation of deterioration. We do not think anymore, we consume. That is what propels this nation.

is a graduate of Southern Oregon University with a degree in English. He lives in Ashland with his fianc&


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