The most controversial season in the history of the National Football league (NFL) has just ended with a memorable Super Bowl. The season was controversial for two primary reasons. First, players continued to “take a knee” during the playing of the national anthem and that action caused many erstwhile fans to stay away from the stadiums and also to not watch on tv. The second reason for controversy has to do with long term brain injuries suffered by many players.
The bare bones story of the football is that Lucy tells Charlie Brown that she’ll let him kick her football but at the last moment always takes the ball away and Charlie Brown looks the fool once again. People who think deeply on the “meaning” of this scene repeated as often as it is, have come up with many theories as to what Charles Schultz had in mind.
A Tongue in Cheek Scenario
Some think that Charles Schultz wanted to tweak our collective noses by setting up a scene and repeating it so often that we would think that there was a deeper meaning hidden there.
If that was the case, the scene could be Schultz very subtly telling Americans that for all their wealth and military power, they are still as little children, believing in wisps and ephemera. Lucy is bringing home the famous dictum attributed to Albert Einstein that insanity is repeatedly trying a failed solution to a problem.
Metaphor for Women
Others claim that Schultz was positing an alternative view of the world; that rather than it being a man’s world it is actually the women who are in charge. One time, Lucy explained that she had pulled the ball away because, “I’m not your mother, Charlie Brown.” Another year, she claimed that she yanked the ball away in identification with the Women’s Liberation Movement.
Real Football Gods Playing Games
Last September 25th, Kentucky was about to defeat the University of Florida in football, snapping what was then a 30 game losing streak to Florida. Kentucky was in short field goal range when a controversial holding penalty put them out of the range of their field goal kicker. At least he got to kick the ball but not before the refs, as Lucy, pulled the ball away from them.
Metaphor, or Get a Life
Rather than being seen as a deep dark metaphor for life, some say that Charles Schultz has been telling us for nigh on 50 years that it is time we put unresolvable problems behind us and get a life!
Charlie Brown never figures out that Lucy will never let him kick the ball. He comes back year after year ultimately putting his trust in Lucy as she comes up with ever more creative enticements for Charlie. As a result of his misbegotten trust in Lucy he remains “forever young”. But the song doesn’t mean that we should remain forever young and gullible; it means that we should remain forever young in spirit even as we inexorably grow older.
So, Lucy and the football remain in a time warp like Bill Murray in the great underrated classic Groundhog Day.
Cubs et al Nation
As long as we’ve mentioned Bill Murray, we might as well mention all those woe begotten long-suffering fans of teams that never win the big one. There are some teams that never even get to the big one. Bill Murray may well become the Patron Saint of all such hapless fans when the time comes to canonize him.
In 2016, the Chicago Cubs finally broke a 108 year World Series drought and Bill Murray was a featured persona on the television broadcasts still wearing the same Chicago-style winter hat with ear flaps that he probably wore to his communion.
So, Bill Murray embodies Cleveland Browns fans and all the other sad sack fans who believe that this year their team will do it only to have the Great Lucy of the Universe waiting in the wings to dash their hopes once again.
The United States
One theory has it that the football is unrealistic expectations, Lucy is Reality, and Charlie Brown is the United States. Certainly, the US has stumbled into many quagmires beginning with the Civil war in which hundreds of thousands died and many thousands were crippled for life in a war that may not have been necessary had the North waited a few years.
America’s penchant for believing that the next war would be the last war caused the US to enter the Great War later replaced by an even greater war and renamed World War 1. It sent American soldiers into harm’s way in Korea and Vietnam and, not to be outshone, subsequent generations would see Iraq as the mother of all football metaphors.
The Dark Side
When Charles Schultz was asked why he never let Charlie Brown kick the ball, he said that, “You can’t create humor out of happiness.” This may show the darkest side of Charles Schultz but it begs the question: Shouldn’t we strive to create happiness out of happiness instead of always looking for the big laughs. Many comic actors and comedians might agree.
In other years, the reasons for not letting Charlie Brown kick the football are even darker. She refers to not trusting a woman’s tears, that a woman’s handshake is not binding, and that the Old Testament prophet Isaiah has a lot to say about Charlie Brown’s futility.
Humorless Lucy; Hapless Charlie
Charles Schultz may have thought that he was creating humor from Charlie’s humiliation. More likely he was shining a light on his own dark soul even if unintentionally.