Scott Hardie | February 18, 2005
Ask anyone who knows me: I've never liked the Looney Tunes characters. Bugs Bunny is a mean son of a bitch whose jokes consist of how stupid everybody else around him is. Daffy Duck has a similar attitude, except he's not smart like Bugs, so he comes across as pathetic and delusional. The popularity of the Tazmanian Devil is inexplicable; all he does is grunt and spin around and bite things. Foghorn Leghorn is so fond of his own voice that he doesn't let anyone else get a word in edgewise. Tweety takes inordinate delight in the elaborate punishments that Granny doles out to Sylvester. Porky Pig and Pepé Le Pew are, at best, annoying. Speedy Gonzales is an ugly caricature and way too excitable. The only Looney Tunes character who appeals to me is Wile E. Coyote — and guess what, he's the only major character who goes about his business silently. In this bunch, that's a virtue.

You're all invited to agree or disagree, but I didn't actually start this discussion to pick on the Looney Tunes characters. On the contrary, I believe I'm in a small minority: The characters and cartoons are obviously adored by millions, and I expect to hear lots of nostalgic comments about them. I know they are treasured by several generations of youngsters.

That's why I'm so put off by the latest development. (link) Maybe this is just another step in the process of my becoming a grumpy old man (I saw a photo of Ashlee Simpson today and actually thought, comb your hair! and tuck in that shirt!), but is it me or does "Loonatics" look like an extremely ill-conceived idea? The WB has announced that a new series will debut this fall featuring the descendants of these characters in 2772. They look like anime villains, all black with malicious scowls on their faces, trying way too hard to seem hip to a generation that is someday going to resent being shortchanged like this. Plus, they're action characters, soon to be followed by a line of action figures, as opposed to comedic characters. In the article, the network executive praised the idea, saying that it was an homage to the legacy instead of destroying the legacy. I agree that the appeal of the Looney Tunes characters will withstand just about anything whether I comprehend it or not, but that doesn't justify this inappropriate and totally phony misuse of the characters. This is a truly bad idea.

Lori Lancaster | February 18, 2005
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Anna Gregoline | February 18, 2005
I've always hated Looney Toons too, Scott, you're not alone. Not only do I agree with what you said about every character, but I felt that as a cartoon, it was always so PREDICTABLE. It made me super bored to watch it.

This "re-imagining" is happening all over, it seems. I think no one has original ideas anymore.

Kris Weberg | February 18, 2005
Bah!!!!

I love the Looney Tunes.

Bugs = Groucho Marx. Classic, anarchic character. Befuddles and disrupts "normal" society.

Daffy = Human weakness. He's a big ball of rage and envy.

And the Road Runner cartoons are genius. I suppose you hate Spy Vs. Spy as well, then?

Though I submit that if you hate the Looney Tunes, you likely hate the whole classic "cartoon short" genre.

Kris Weberg | February 18, 2005
Loonatics will date horribly, though.

Anna Gregoline | February 18, 2005
Nope, wrong. Love Spy vs: Spy. Quick, to the point, and loads more clever than the Warner Brothers type stuff.

John E Gunter | February 18, 2005
I like the Looney Tunes as well and agree with Kris as far as comparing the characters. That is, I like the old Looney Tunes. Most of the newer cartoons they've made, which there haven't been to many, aren't as funny in my opinion.

So how do I feel about the Loonatics, the kids might like it, but I think it'll blow chunks! Course, I don't watch Saturday morning cartoons, because the majority of them don't appeal to me. The last Saturday morning cartoon I liked was Reboot. But they haven't made that cartoon in years.

John

Kris Weberg | February 18, 2005
But Spy Vs. Spy is also the same thing over and over, isn't it? I'm specifically comparing it to the Road Runner vs. Coyote cartoons -- think of them not as whole cartoons, but as a series of shorter, Spy vs. Spy moments.

I find Wile E. Coyote quite funny -- it's a "best laid plans of mice and men" sort of gag crosses with the myth of Sisyphus. He's doomed to try and fail, and to do so with increasingly baroque and elaborate methods. I find that to be funny, and fairly universal.

But again, I ask the Looney Tunes haters, what short animated cartoons DO you like? Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck? Droopy dog? Or do you simply hate the whole genre?

Jackie Mason | February 18, 2005
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Anna Gregoline | February 18, 2005
"But Spy Vs. Spy is also the same thing over and over, isn't it? I'm specifically comparing it to the Road Runner vs. Coyote cartoons -- think of them not as whole cartoons, but as a series of shorter, Spy vs. Spy moments. "

Not at all. Most importantly, in Spy vs: Spy you don't know who will win. That is not true in any other of that style of cartoons that I know about. Spy vs: Spy also uses all sort of unexpected devices - I feel like Road Runner and Coyote mostly using dynamite, etc. It just seems very repetitive. And Spy vs: Spy is definitely shorter than a Road Runner short. I think that makes them a lot more tolerable for me.

Jackie Mason | February 19, 2005
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Anna Gregoline | February 19, 2005
Yeah, I guess it just was always the same for me though - Roadrunner shows him up, he calls ACME, Roadrunner wins. I really like Spy vs: Spy because every time I was like, "Who will win?" I guess I'm more interested in the outcome than the process in this instance?

Scott Hardie | February 19, 2005
I see what you're saying, Kris. I think my problem with the Looney Tunes was that they were introduced to me as children's fare. At that age, I didn't want Groucho-style subversion or psychological undertones, I wanted silly, brainless violence like Tom & Jerry. If I had never seen them before and were introduced to them today with an open mind, I suspect I'd like them. But as it is, I've spent so many years disliking the Looney Tunes for their general meanness and high annoyance factor that they're probably forever ruined for me.

It's the same reason I have always disliked "Rocky & Bullwinkle": Way too cerebral for a four-year-old who only wants to laugh. I didn't get half the jokes, so I changed the channel. Today I get the jokes just fine, but I hated the show for so long that I'm still uneasy watching it even now.

I shudder to think that if I'd been born five years ago, I'd probably be a fan of "SpongeBob SquarePants" right now. Jesus.

Kris Weberg | February 19, 2005
Anna -- Yes, but since the spies lack personalities and are identical in all respects except their outfits, it's not as though it really matters which one wins. In essence, they're the same guy. (In fact, that's the point; it's a Cold War parody by Antonio Prohias, a cartoonist who fled Cuba to avoid being jailed and/or killed by Castro.)

In the Road Runner cartoons, you may know who'll win, but many people root for the Coyote anyway. The Road Runner is brainless, charging around, occasionally eating birdseed. At least the Coyote has life goals. But therein lies the joke. The guy with the goal, the plan, and (in a way) the brains fails constantly and miserably; the mindless beeping bird lives on serenely.

Scott -- See, I always hated Tom and Jerry. I wanted Tom to kill the little punk mouse. And not in a funny cartoon way. I mean, in some of those toons, Jerry makes Bugs Bunny look like a perfect saint -- he lives in someone else's house, steals their food, and when Tom tries to do something about that, he ends up getting stomped -- often rather gruesomely. At least Itchy & Scratchy, which brilliantly parodies Tom & Jerry, is upfront about that.

Say what you want about Bugs Bunny, but the characters he torments generally provoke him, not vice versa. Elmer and Yosemite Sam typically want to kill him. Daffy wants Elmer to kill Bugs. The Tasmanian Devil wants to eat him. Against nutjobs with guns, machiavellian waterfowl, and a veritable juggernaut of teeth and drool, Bugs prevails through his wits.

Anyway, it's appealing to me. Anyone here like Animaniacs?

Jackie Mason | February 20, 2005
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Anna Gregoline | February 20, 2005
Hmm. I never think of the Spies as identical, even though I know they are, really. I always root for Black Spy, but he doesn't always win. Still an element of surprise that's way missing in the other cartoons. I just hate the predictability in other cartoons - why should I care about the struggle when I know who wins? It's like watching a sports game where you already know for a fact who will win. And who will win the next round. And the next. Not particularly exciting.

Kris Weberg | February 20, 2005
Anna -- Aside from the color of their outfits, what exactly differentiates the Spies? I mean, it's not as though you know anything about the Black Spy other than the color of his outfit. (Oh, and I'd point out that in the strips where the grey female spy appears she does in fact always win.) The idea of Spy Vs. Spy is that one of the spies wins and the other loses, but because they're indistinguishable in tactics, goals, and pretty much everything but the trappings, it doesn't matter which one.

Again, to Spy creator Antonio Prohias, all sorts of countries were pulling black ops, backing coups, et cetera; it didn't matter which one was the victor, because even playing the game came to render the participants equally corrupt. And as with the spies, they seemed to have no discernible goal besides destroying the "enemy." It's no accident that we're never told what the Spies's countries stand for, for example. Spy vs. Spy is quite a vicious satire, really.

And, as I keep trying to point out, there's more to Looney Tunes than "the struggle." A good novel or short story, boiled down to its very basic plot, will likely still be predictable; it's about how it gets there, not where it gets to. And the Loonies get there in style.

Anna Gregoline | February 20, 2005
Nothing does, I just said as much. It's still always different - like a surrpise, I guess that part isn't as important to you. I was introduced to it on television, so I never met the gray spy.

I think you read WAY too much into cartoons. It might be good for a term paper, but I don't think I've ever watched a cartoon violence and thought, "What's the person trying to SAY with this?" It's just entertainment for me, and Spy vs: Spy is more entertaining to me than Looney Toons for the reasons mentioned. You say it's how they get there, but for a short cartoon like Spy vs: Spy, I'm waiting to see the outcome. We have different objectives. Shrug.

Kris Weberg | February 20, 2005
I guess I'd rather watch a coyote fail interestingly than watch a cat fail predictably; and I'd rather see a rabbit win with wits than a mouse by luck and mallets.

Kris Weberg | February 20, 2005
Shorter version, in John Frink voice: "N-hey, no cartoons for you, you won't enjoy them on as many levels as I do. Glaven."

(NOTE: This is me making fun of myself, not anyone else.)

Jackie Mason | March 7, 2005
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