Cultural Product

Cultural Product
Serving Suggestion

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Psychiatrist 5c

LUCY from Charles Schultz’s Peanuts: Psychiatric Help 5c
Trial 1
September 2006 Loose Projects

The comic character of Lucy from Charles Schultz’s Peanuts has long intrigued me. As a child, growing up in the USA, I was inundated with Peanuts television cartoons. Every season provided more ‘special’ episodes, and the cartoon was celebrated as ‘clean living’ but slightly awry children’s content. The filler that I enjoyed was purely Woodstock and Snoopy. I loved them, but didn’t care much about the cartoon, except for scenes of the interior of Snoopy’s doghouse. They also had appealing names…Peppermint Patty, Schroeder and Pigpen, and I liked the obsession Schroeder had with his piano playing.
As I got older, I began to reminisce about the ideology of this comic. What did Lucy stand for? Hers was the only way. There was an absence of logic in her arguments, and what has been described on the official website, as “a shining lunacy”. I relate to this, and think, essentially there is an art to her bossiness. In December 1962, Lucy’s character declares to Schroeder “It’s a scientific fact that girls are smarter than boys”. Her big sister claim and motives are rarely pure; in fact she was very selfish and crabby.
As a kid, I really liked the Archie comic series, and fell in love with Betty’s character. Betty is the blonde sweetie, who was always losing out to Veronica’s ‘femme fatale’ antics. It was a battle between blonde, poor, honest Betty and Veronica; brunette, rich and devious. I identified with the wholesome and rarely successful Betty, hating Veronica. Lucy, being quite a nasty piece of work, resembles Veronica’s character. Lucy would whisk away the football she was holding for the trusting Charlie Brown, having promised and lied to him that she wouldn’t do exactly that…a scenario I hated. What a subversive dig at male trust and empowerment! Charlie always fell for it. As did Archie, falling for Veronica.
Lucy’s other role, being the gang’s ‘psychiatrist’ clashed elementally with her status as troublemaker. “Psychiatric help 5c” has such an appealing resonance. Despite all the trouble she caused, she still wanted to give her quasi-advice, assist maybe, and cash in on the trials of existence. She ran a business, calling herself ‘the doctor’- a precocious ego! Perhaps Schultz was making a comment on the plethora of analysists and shrinks common in the West. By having a child acting in this esteemed doctor’s role illustrated his mirth…her lack of responsibility and willingness to capitalise on proffering advice on anything speaks of the American way. Personally, I believe in the essential goodness of couch therapy, and the exploration of the self a noble and necessary modern convenience. Information sharing, story-telling.
The price Lucy charged rose from 5c to 47c in 1992. Even in comic book land there’s inflation. By now it should be $2 at least!
Sarah Goffman 13/9/06
Curated by Carla Cescon
Elvis Richardson in photograph
On reflection
Having tried it, and earning some $5 including tips
It was hard but fun. With people I knew it felt like an everyday arrangement, but with newbies it was all systems go. It ceased to be a camp performance and became charged and demanding. I haven't the guts to go public with this idea yet, as the play on actual mental illness poses problems I am not equipped to handle. I liked the physical proximity I had with my clients, and had to have a 5 minute time limit on the session, but felt really confident improvising on the spot and getting people all to myself for 5 minutes!