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Cinema Culture Media Critique

‘Graphic Blandishment’ Explained, Sort Of

This time of year many Gen X parents are making nostalgia-driven searches for A Charlie Brown Christmas, the animated special from 1965 that set the standard for producing seasonal affective disorder in children (FYI, it’s available on Apple TV+).

If you happen to make it through the melancholic ode to holiday disillusionment and catch the end credits (see image), you might notice the term “Graphic Blandishment.” Once I bothered to notice it, was a completely new job name to me. In fact, you can rake through IMDB as I did and not come up with another such attribution in any animation department, no way, no how.

“Blandishment” means “Speech or action expressive of affection or kindness, and tending to win the heart; an artful caress; flattering attention; cajolery; endearment” — thanks Wordnik. Not put “Graphic” in front of it. Given my cursory understanding of etymology and the art of animation, that hardly adds up to “cartoon animator.”

So, wherefrom “Graphic Blandishment?” Was it some union situation the way we say “Field Producer” instead of “director” for non-Directors Guild of America-signatory directing gigs? Not according to the Internet, which offers a couple of answers.

The least satisfying of the two harkens back to a page on WikiAnswers from 14 years ago that reads:

Graphic Blandishment is a term also known as “Animation”.
Charles M. Schultz used that term in his Peanuts/Charlie Brown
Animation Credits to credit the Animators.

WikiAnwers

That one merely puts the bland in blandishment. But here’s another that at least pinpoints the term’s origin. This is from Amid Amidi’s 2013 CartoonBrew obit of animator Edward Levitt, who was a Disney background painter as well as a so-called graphic blandisher on A Charlie Brown Christmas:

[Levitt] also coined the famous credit used for many years at the end of the Peanuts specials—Graphic Blandishment. “Blandishment” is defined as “something that tends to coax or cajole,” which speaks to Levitt’s modesty and his view of the role he played in the filmmaking process.

CartoonBrew

Not the earth-shattering definition I was seeking but at least it’s some kind of explanation for the existence of graphic blandishment. That, and I’m inferring here, Edward Levitt had a thesaurus.

For more Peanuts-inspired inferring, read my LSD conspiracy theory about A Charlie Brown Christmas.

By Daedalus Howell

Daedalus Howell is the author, most recently, of the novel "Quantum Deadline" and the writer-director of the recently released feature film "Pill Head." He is the editor of The North Bay Bohemian and The Pacific Sun.

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