I am reminded from time to time that the Peanuts that is clearly part of the culture is the Peanuts that existed during the first half of the strip’s run…. and that this is true even for people who were not alive at that time. Even if you were born after ’75, the odds are still good that much of your exposure to Peanuts was the annual repeats of the first few TV specials, or the reprint books that you found on our parent’s shelves, or at yard sales, or even new at the bookstores, because for a long time the old material remained much more available than the new stuff.
This was driven home to me again a few days ago when one of the many folks who edit Wikipedia came to the conclusion that Rerun van Pelt was not important enough to have a Wikipedia page about him, and suggested that that page be deleted. Now, that’s not an out-of-this-world suggestion; while many people think of Wikipedia as trying to hold everything, in reality there is constant pruning of pages on topics that are not notable enough. If you try to put up a page about your garage band, or that one guy in the background of one episode of Gravity Falls, odds are it will be quickly deleted. The more pages that are in the encyclopedia, the more it stretches thin the volunteer hours used in maintaining things.
In proper Wikipedia matter, the suggestion that the page about Rerun be deleted started a discussion that will decide whether the page stays or goes – and before I go any further, I want to make it clear that at this point, it looks very much as if the page is going to stay, so please do not rush over to join in the discussion. A bunch of fans without Wikipedia experience rushing to suggest that the page be kept is just going to slow things down and likely be counterproductive. This isn’t a voting situation; having a lot of people just saying it should be kept because they like the topic won’t help.
But after the deletion was proposed, the first person to discuss the matter said that Rerun was “only notable for being a reoccurring relative of Linus and Lucy. Not a main character, nor even a member of the original cast.” And I understood where he was coming from, not because he was right (well, he’s right that Rerun was not part of the original cast, but then neither was Linus, nor Lucy) but because Rerun is not visible in those early specials, and comes in just slightly before that first half of the run is over. He is a tiny part of Peanuts as most people experience and recall it.
So I put on my Professional Peanuts Nerd hat and explained that he was a major character… at the end of the run. I pointed out that in the final full year of the strip, Rerun appeared in more than a quarter of the strips, and rarely as a minor character. Almost always he was the central character (or one of two) of the strips he appeared in. And in the animation in the wake of the strip’s ending – he was the one being bullied in He’s a Bully, Charlie Brown. He was the titular “I” in I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown, appearing as the sole human on both the title card and the DVD jacket.
And I wasn’t even doing that to save the article; it was solely to correct the erroneous claim that Rerun was not a main character. Because people should not think that they know Peanuts when they only know half.