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Tuesday, March 23, 2021 

Mark Steyn on the Looney Tunes history

Canadian columnist Mark Steyn wrote some history of Warner Brothers' Looney Tunes characters, which of recent have suffered from the PC police patrols, as noted earlier. He tells that his family watched them years before, and really enjoyed them. He begins his commentary in a most interesting way:
I love Looney Tunes, and I couldn't be less interested in discussing whether Pepe LePew is directly responsible for Andrew Cuomo #MeTooing his staffers or Joe Biden tweaking grade-school nipples. Even for a self-moronized suicide cult like 21st century western civilization, that's too stupid - even more stupid than, say, crediting Yosemite Sam continually shoving dynamite down his pants for our societal death wish. I miss the grand comic spirit of Looney Tunes, and the high artistry they brought to it. So screw the wokesters and let's spend our Saturday movie date with a certain anthropomorphized lagomorph and the other enduring, indestructible stars of the Looney Tunes funny farm.
Well, it's good to see he's alluding to serious offenses those 2 Democrats are accused of committing, and even Hunter Biden was accused of troubling behavior. You could almost wonder if modern libs want to get rid of Pepe le Pew from use because they fear it serves as a mirror to their mindsets. And on that note, here's something told about how animator Chuck Jones characterized the anthropomorphic skunk who lusted after cats:
Even the minor players are fully conceived, Pepe Le Pew, the bon vivant French skunk who starred in "Odor-able Kitty" (1945), "For Scent-imental Reasons" (1949), "A Scent Of The Matterhorn" (1961) and many others. A sophisticate skunk who talks like Charles Boyer and keeps hitting on cats is a fine comic idea: "He's like most of us men," said Jones. "He doesn't know he's a stinker." Which ought to be the end of it.
And yet it wasn't for modern leftists, until such a character's use had been wiped away altogether, in ways as seen of recent, and even at the expense of what could've been a positive way to make use of Pepe for teaching why sleazy harassment doesn't pay. Jones actually admitted Pepe's actions were meant to be viewed negatively, but to most leftists, it just doesn't matter. Not even that Jones may have said something most man-hating feminists would want to say today.
Plot and character were also supported by a full orchestral score, arranged by the prolifically gifted Carl Stalling, who invented much of the musical cartoon language we now take for granted (the pizzicato footsteps when Sylvester's creeping up on Tweety, etc). (For Bugs' transvestite appearances he used "Oh, You Beautiful Doll", which you can hear more about here.) But the Tunes also had occasional numbers in their own right – Bugs and Daffy's marvelous tap duet to "Tea For Two". And they often had amazing backgrounds, too (look at Maurice Noble's designs in Duck Dodgers In The 24½ Century, beginning with the giant eye that follows Daffy into the space station).
As bad as the situation with cancel culture and censorship's become, you could still wonder if cross-dressing jokes like this will still hold up well, considering how SJW transgender ideologues have drained much of the humor from it by using their belief system as a way to injure society and cohesion. Or, maybe they'll be the ones to demand WB censor such jokes, because they don't have a sense of humor and because it's not PC enough for their tastes.

Steyn also makes the case for why Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies (another name for some of the WB cartoons) should be taught in humor school:
...The six-minute Looney Tunes should be taught in comedy class as textbook examples of the first two rules of funny business: make sure you know what the joke is, and then make sure you stick to it. [...]
I fully agree on that. But will the PC-obsessed left agree? Probably not. Then, we learn where PC arguments preceding the archives begin:
Not long after that live-action feature, Warner Bros repackaged the cartoons in a series of box sets called the Looney Tunes Golden Collection. Volume One - me and the kids loved it. Volume Two - likewise; Daffy, Bugs, Porky, beautifully restored, tons of special features. And then I bought Volume Three, and for some reason, this set begins with a special announcement by Whoopi Goldberg explaining what it is we're not meant to find funny. "Unfortunately at that time racial and ethnic differences were caricatured in ways that may have embarrassed and even hurt people of color, women and ethnic groups," she tells us solemnly. "These jokes were wrong then and they're wrong today" — unlike, say, Whoopi Goldberg's most memorable joke of the twenty-first century, the one at that 2004 all-star Democratic Party fundraiser in New York where she compared President Bush to her, um, private parts. There's a gag for the ages.

I don't know what Whoopi's making such a meal about. It's true you don't see many positive images of people of color on Looney Tunes, but then the images of people of non-color aren't terribly positive either (Elmer Fudd, Yosemite Sam). Instead, you see positive images of ducks of color, roadrunners of color and tweety birds of color. How weirdly reductive to be so obsessed about something so peripheral to these cartoons that, in order to innoculate himself from all the whiners, the Senior Executive Vice-President of Pre-emptive Prostration rustles up a person of color - no, better make that a woman of color - and then you stick the same dreary Whoopi Goldberg health warning on all four DVDs in the box. And don't think about hitting the "Next" button and skipping to the cartoons: You can't; you gotta sit through it. It's like Friz Freling with Bugs on the diving board: The same thing over and over. But with no variations. And entirely unfunny.

One day, they'll all be banned, so treasure them while you can
. In Hollywood, flesh-and-blood stars and starlets come and go - where are Jenna Elfman and Brendan Fraser now? But an A-list rabbit, that's forever.

Or he should be. Here's hoping that's not all, folks
.
You got that right. Ultra-leftist Whoopi, who originally tried to defend Roman Polanski by claiming his late 70s assault on Samantha Geimer "wasn't rape-rape", is taking an awfully rich position by lecturing everyone on what is or isn't funny in the WB slapstick cartoons. And let's not forget the studio execs who hired her for the sake of said lectures, which I assume you can't fast-forward through any more than press a Next-button. Goldberg eventually left her talk show, and a few years back, she got into trouble after she attacked Jeanine Pirro. So it's decidedly hypocritical if she's virtue-signaling. The PC studio managers won't consider that the stories sided far more with Bugs, Speedy, Tweety and whoever the cat was whom Pepe was pursuing than it did with the skunk, Sylvester, Elmer and Yousemite. Must I point out the latter two were white humanoids? You could argue the white company execs must be so ashamed of those portrayals, they probably want to get rid of them altogether. Naturally, it's weird that the slapstick moments involving blades swung by Elmer don't seem to matter in this case; that's the real reason they were seen far less on commercial TV reruns a few decades back, yet more recently, they seem to have suddenly come into vogue again. I wonder why?

Here's also a column recorded from the Chattanooga Times-Free Press, where the writer conceives a fictional conversation with anthropomorphic skunk Pepe le Pew, and it brings up a most curious double-standard in who's getting targeted among the anthropomorphs:
"Eet ees madening, I know," Pepe chimed in. "Not only doo peepole tek things fah too seereeously, zey do so eenconseestently. Zey accuse me of being a rapist, and yet ignore Sylvester for trying to eet zee burd. Ees he a murdurur? And ees Marvin zee Marsheean perpetuahteeng raysheeal stereotypes against 'illegal aliens'? Fred and Bahnee went to werk eesh day and left zee wives home; will zey be canceled as well? Where weel eet all end?"
In case anybody's having a hard time understanding the faux-French dialect there, let me describe it a little more clearly: the same SJWs who're accusing Pepe of encouraging rape have no issue whatsoever with Sylvester the cat trying to devour Tweety the canary. I know there's such a thing as fates worse than death, but still...why doesn't a character who tries to commit acts akin to cannibalism face condemnation? And will Marvin the Martian be attacked next for allegedly poking fun at illegal immigrants? Towards the end, it also offers a reminder:
I fell silent and thought on that. I began to have an awful fear as to the answer. Where will it all end? Unless something changes, in the very unmerriest of worlds. A world where cartoons are nothing more than preachy progressive screeds. A world where humor has to be run through the legal department before being delivered. A world where "I'm offended" are the most powerful words on Earth. A world where everyone lives their days with the words "be reserved" at the very top of their to-do list. A world where writers measure every word carefully rather than letting their thoughts flow freely. A world where the vibrant colors of creativity fade into the dull gray of official approval.
And there too is an important point: the same people who want Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes banned have no problem whatsover with exploiting the art form for divisive, partisan politics. With the biggest irony of all being that only so many animators up to the turn of the century restricted US-made cartoons to serve a children's audience (Ralph Bakshi was probably one of the few exceptions), and if they feel preaching politics to the same crowd through the art form is acceptable, they obviously haven't changed in their opinion of whom it should be for. Many superhero cartoons were among those designated for a children's audience in the past century, no matter what subject matter came up in the zygote on paper, and a lot of Japanese anime with more mature elements was heavily edited whenever adapted for commercial TV broadcasts. And even those could one day end up banned from US broadcast. To be sure, people from comicdom involved in animation (Gil Kane, Martin Pasko, Gerry Conway, for instance) may have some blame to shoulder for failing to convince the animation world more mature ideas were worth the challenge of making, and most importantly, cultivating an audience and marketplace for them. So now, we have a situation where, no matter what the subject matter you see in post-2000 US cartoons, it may be too late.

So anyway, it's a shame we have all these classic cartoons now viewed by leftists as cause for fearmongering and moral panic, that may one day be banished altogether, along with some of the best comic books, all because the past veterans did not meet their communist standards, even if the creators were liberals themselves. To be sure, this is part of the reason why it's been argued why you should own physical copies of the art forms, as one day, they could get rid of those too.

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