Monday, February 11, 2008

Politically Incorrect Icons of Yesteryear: Looney Tunes

By Tony Mazur

Remember waking up on Saturday mornings and you made yourself an overflowing bowl of cereal and turned the TV on? Because you're young and you don't know any better, you turned up the TV really loud, waking up your parents. You knew what channel had the Saturday morning cartoons. From 6:00 until noon, the house permeated sugar cereal and the sounds of falling anvils and TNT.

If you're between the ages of 10 and 80, you grew up with the Looney Tunes. I grew up watching all of the shorts. So did my father. He even has a tattoo of Yosemite Sam on his bicep. We all know the characters; Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Speedy Gonzales, Foghorn Leghorn, Sylvester the Cat, Tweety, the Road Runner, Wile E. Coyote, Pepe Le Pew, Elmer Fudd, the Tasmanian Devil (Taz), and much, much more.

As of a few years ago, all Looney Tunes have been removed from syndication. They had a great run from the 1950s until approximately 2001, last shown on Ted Turner's Cartoon Network. My dad and I were devastated when we noticed Cartoon Network replaced Merrie Melodies in favor of Courage, The Cowardly Dog.

Looney Tunes has encountered much controversy over the years. Well, actually the last few years. Special interest groups have come out against the cartoons, saying the amount of stereotypes displayed in the cartoons is deplorable. Speedy Gonzales cartoons were pulled from syndication in 1999 because of their alleged stereotyping of Mexicans. In the early cartoons, some characters danced around in blackface. During World War II, many anti-German shorts were shown at movie theaters to pep the spirits of the soldiers.

Another criticism of the Looney Tunes is the incessant violence throughout. Guns, cannons, mousetraps, hammers, etc., were used as a form of slapstick humor. In one particular cartoon, Rabbit Fire (a.k.a. Wabbit Season, Duck Season), Elmer Fudd shoots Daffy Duck in the face a few times, knocking his bullet-holed bill off of his face. ABC replaced the scene with still frames, but CBS and the former WB network cut out the entire scene.

I miss the Looney Tunes. Today's cartoons don't even hold a candle compared to Chuck Jones and Tex Avery shorts. I really do not think these cartoons transcended into real-life violence. I don't think kids hit each other with garden hoes and wooden mallets after watching animated mice do the same to hungry cats.

I think it was absurd that the networks censored Speedy Gonzales cartoons. Can we just admit that racial humor is funny? Isn't that why Chappelle's Show was so successful?

I'm tired of this political correctness. There is no more humor in our society. You can't make fun of blacks, gays, Jews, women, Muslims, etc., but it's fine and dandy to make fun of white men, especially President Bush. The key to having a successful television commercial nowadays is to include talking or singing animals or babies. And if a spot features a singing animal AND baby, well, hold onto your socks, folks!

And so, we salute the Looney Tunes as they drift away from our society, along with culture and comedy. I guess I'll just have to buy all the DVDs...

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