An analysis of ‘Looney Tunes’ craziness
By James Wetmore, Contributor
Looney Tunes was one of my childhood delights. Every Saturday morning, after a hard week of learning four letter words and one plus one, I sat down in front of the living room TV and enjoyed watching Bugs Bunny be a smartass to every character and Daffy Duck spit whenever he spoke. Looking back on the beloved cartoon though, you start to notice a trend of needless fighting and bickering. Each character is always trying to find a way to wind another character up to the point of them cracking: bursting with unhinged anger at a fan favourite character. We always cheered for the aggressor as children, never thinking of how they always seemed to stir up the trouble… and picked on people for simply minding their business.
One instance of this is Pepé Le Pew, the foul-smelling skunk who aggressively pursues an unnamed female black cat, mistakenly believing her to be another skunk. The guy goes full absolute bonkers, obviously unable to understand any of her disinterested social cues. He borders on sexual assault at times, grabbing her and kissing her on the face wherever he can, while she tries as hard as she can to struggle away from him. The scene draws parallels to the whole “nice guy” trope—guys thinking they’re entitled to something from females for being nice (or for no reason at all). It’s clear that the black cat wants nothing to do with Pepé, but nothing will stop him from trying as hard as he can to win her over with his unending charm and unbearable stench.
Another fan favourite that dabbles in bad guy territory is none other than Bugs Bunny. He can’t avoid conflict—no matter where, and no matter who. He literally murdered someone for coughing during an orchestra in one of the cartoons! For a flagship character, you’d think they would’ve made him a little less hot headed, but instead he tries as hard as he can to annoy Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd, and so on. I can understand him being a trickster and playing jokes on all the other characters, but sometimes he can go a tad too far. You even feel bad for Elmer sometimes: all the guy wants is some food, and Bugs is just tormenting and making fun of him! I love Bugs just as much as the next person, but the guy has got a couple of loose screws.
Lastly, the absolute train wreck that is the relationship between Tweety Bird and Sylvester. These guys have been at each other’s throats for decades, only stopping when both of their livelihoods are in danger. You’d think that they’d eventually settle their differences… but nope. Sylvester wants that bird for dinner, every night, every day, 365 days a year. Tweety’s simply trying to mind his own business while Sylvester is being a bully—knocking the bird around in his cage and putting him in dangerous situations to trick him into fleeing right into Sylvester’s hungry hands. Luckily, Tweety always outsmarts the feline, but never without rubbing in how close he was—egging Sylvester on to keep trying. Can Sylvester not find another bird to eat? Why must he have a vendetta against Tweety? It’s not fair for the little guy.
It’s not hard to see how this could rub off onto the young kids watching the show through its many years on television, seeing how it offers the impression that it’s okay to pick on the smaller guy, make fun of someone’s intelligence, or just go absolutely mad and hold a grudge (against a bird) for decades. Looney Tunes was a massive cornerstone of my childhood, but there’s no denying that it had some rough patches that, looking back on, don’t sit right with where we are as a society today. However, it is still an amazing show that set the groundwork for animation and helped create cartoons as we know them today.