On ABC, Whitney Houston, and Charlie Brown

Here’s the situation.

I’m watching Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown this evening. Charlie Brown and Sally are working on making a homemade Valentine card for Sally to give to her Sweet Baboo, and then…

ABC breaks into Be My Valentine with a breaking news bulletin.

The anchor, someone I have never seen before, says something like this, “We have breaking news, and we want to caution parents that this news may be disturbing for the children watching Charlie Brown this evening.”

And then the anchor announces that Whitney Houston has died in Los Angeles, aged 48.

First, at the risk of sounding insensitive, by what standard is Whitney Houston important enough to warrant an interruption of regular programming on an American television network?

Second, even if she is important enough to interrupt regular programming, is a breaking news bulletin announcing her death during a children’s program at all justified?

What’s the thought process here? ABC knew they had children in their audience, their own anchor stated that up front. In no way, shape, or form does Whitney Houston justify potentially traumatizing children.

This news bulletin could have waited until 9 o’clock. For that matter, it could have waited for the 11 o’clock news. Whitney Houston is not that important.

I’m appalled at the lack of judgment that ABC showed in interrupting Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown this evening. There was no benefit to the interruption. ABC made a bad call.

With that off my chest, as for tonight’s Charlie Brown specials are concerned, they were both soul-crushing affairs. Charlie Brown receives a used valentine, Charlie Brown can’t work up the courage to talk to the Little Red-Haired Girl, Linus is thwarted in his pursuit of his own crush, Sally’s hopes for her Sweet Baboo are crushed.

I have a copy of one of the strips adapted for tonight’s second special, A Charlie Brown Valentine, hanging on my cubicle wall at the office. It’s a strip from May 1998, specifically the 25th, the very day that I was struck by a drunk driver. It’s also the only time the Little Red-Haired Girl actually appears on panel in Peanuts. The comic strip is better; in the special, Snoopy and she dance while Charlie Brown is falling apart, while in the comic strip Charlie Brown is actually quite mature, and Snoopy and the Little Red-Haired Girl are, per Snoopy’s thought balloon, Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan.

Suffice it to say, that strip has great personal meaning for me. 🙂

Published by Allyn

A writer, editor, journalist, sometimes coder, occasional historian, and all-around scholar, Allyn Gibson is the writer for Diamond Comic Distributors' monthly PREVIEWS catalog, used by comic book shops and throughout the comics industry, and the editor for its monthly order forms. In his over ten years in the industry, Allyn has interviewed comics creators and pop culture celebrities, covered conventions, analyzed industry revenue trends, and written copy for comics, toys, and other pop culture merchandise. Allyn is also known for his short fiction (including the Star Trek story "Make-Believe,"the Doctor Who short story "The Spindle of Necessity," and the ReDeus story "The Ginger Kid"). Allyn has been blogging regularly with WordPress since 2004.

2 thoughts on “On ABC, Whitney Houston, and Charlie Brown

  1. I couldn’t agree with you more about ABC’s poor judgment at interrupting Charlie Brown. I was watching with my 5 year old and thought “oh my god, what is going on!” It must be really bad to interrupt programming. I scurried my son out of the room. I seriously thought there might have been a terrorist attack. I remained very calm, but my son was scared. Then they announce that a drug addled Whitney Houston is dead at 48. Sad for sure but breaking news???!!! No way. I don’t know who made that decision at ABC but they should be given “a talking to”. You’d think ABC would have a policy on such things. Finally, now my DVR’ed Charlie Brown will forever have this announcement rendering it unfit for keeping!

  2. If it were the death of someone like Queen Elizabeth or the President of the United States, or some other world leader, I could understand interrupting the regular programming. But not Whitney Houston. I like some of her songs, but I don’t think she’s important enough to interrupt a Charlie Brown special. Breaking news should be reserved for the death of world leaders, or terrorist attacks, or something majorily HUGE. Not to the death of pop cultural figures. Remember when Michael Jackson died? OMG, I can’t think of ANYone who had the media frenzy he did, not even any of the former US presidents!

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