Sunday, March 16, 2008

Dig: Old School Saturday Morning Cartoons

You know how much I dig TV. Despite stupid game shows, I take great pleasure in sitting in front of the boob tube letting my mind turn to mush. Don't get me wrong, there ain't much on the old telly that does much to make me smarter with the exception of some of the stuff on the Discovery Channel ("Bone Marrow is Your Friend!"). And what makes your mind mushier than a quality Bugs Bunny cartoon?!

So I'm 40. I've got all kinds of responsibilities with kids, dogs, cars, house (singular) and my on-going efforts to keep them fooled at work. But let's go back to those carefree days when I was about seven, shall we? I do my thing in first grade all week long and go to bed Friday night with nary a care in the world. And then Saturday morning comes, the clouds part and the angels sing - to the tune of the Looney Tunes theme song! Pour me a bowl of FrankenBerry cereal and begin the slightly racist, highly violent entertainment! See you at noon!

Because of the aforementioned kids, I could still watch plenty of cartoons. My kids know that the cartoon channels are 29, 63 and 65. They sure don't know which channel is C-Span but, for that matter, neither do I. And let me tell you something about the cartoons that are on these days - they're kind of freaky! The artwork is really pretty cool and there are boatloads of references that only parents would pick up - just as much, if not more so, than the old Merrie Melodies cartoons of old. But they're not quite as innocent as the ones I used to watch...

So, let's review a few of my old faves, shall we?

Bugs Bunny is the man. He has a devil-may-care attitude, gets all the chicks and makes Elmer Fudd look like an idiot all the time. Heck, he even had that sweet job in the army checking to see if any of the missiles were duds by hitting them with a hammer. And how about all that pain and misery he put Daffy Duck through? That's good stuff! Rabbit season? I think not!

As we've discussed before, I have zero musical ability. Bugs, however, could play the piano with his hands (feet?) AND with his ears! Certainly, if it weren't for Bugs, I would never have been exposed to opera in that old classic, The Barber of Seville. The scene where Bugs shaves Elmer's face with the little lawnmower just kills me!

Let's move on to the Road Runner. Bugs had his Elmer and the Road Runner had Wile E. Coyote. What a great name! That poor son-of-a-bitch sure got screwed by the Road Runner, didn't he? Just how many anvils are out in the middle of the desert, anyway? And who is the mastermind behind the quality products at Acme? One of my favorite aspects of the Road Runner cartoons, though, was the ability to defy gravity all the time. How many times did Wile E. suspend in mid-air long enough to hold up a little sign and then have his body stretch all out before plummeting to his "death"? Now that's entertainment!

Tom and Jerry sucked.

There were a few minor players that I enjoyed, though. Pepe Le Pew ("le pant, le heave"), Foghorn Leghorn ("Fortunately, I keep my feathers numbered for, for just such an emergency"), Droopy ("Hello, boys"), Marvin the Martian, the Tasmanian Devil and even that bulldog on the construction site who befriends the kitten (no voices, just music). These guys added a little variety to the falling anvils, mis-firing shotguns and Acme Electro-magnets with their own brand of violence. They didn't have the same stereotypical references to the Japanese or Native Americans as Bugs did but, in hindsight, they were still plenty offensive.

Do NOT get me started on anime as an art form. They don't even have anvils!

So, there you go. If you want to make me happy (and I'm sure you do) just hook me up with some Frankenberry cereal (I'll settle for Cap'n Crunch with Crunch Berries in a pinch), crank up some old Bugs Bunny cartoons and don't disturb me until the last boulder crushes Wile E. Coyote!


Laura said...

The thing about those cartoons is that they were CLEVER!!! I don't see a whole lot of CLEVER in today's cartoons; there is talent in the art to be sure- but something is lacking.
Maybe it's the cereal.
I miss Quisp, myself.

brian said...

Great rant!

I'm going to quote you on the anvils thing later.

My note - where would I have learned etiquette if it hadn't been for those two overly polite gophers Mac and Tosh?

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The Smoking Monkey from Stuckeys said...

True, I would know nothing of the Barber of Seville if it were not for Sat a.m. and after school Looney Tunes.

Ditto for the fine literary musings of John Steinbeck (think of George and Lennie: "Yes George, I will love him and hug him and squeeze him!" -- all while squishing the malleable rabbit or duck).

I little off point, but surely I would likewise know nothing of Shakesphere if it were not for Gilligan's Island

BTW, Don't forget Pete Puma ("How many lumps" "Ohhh, three or four . . .", commence pummeling with sledge hammer).

The true and lasting beauty of Road Runner is that Wile never -- never -- catches the Road Runner. Any show that, metaphorically, lets Wile catch the Road Runner immediatley jumps the shark. Think of Joel sleeping with Maggie in Northern Exposure. It was all down hill from there. But I digress.

I about boycotted all TV for the rest of my life when I saw, a few years back, an old episode of Bugs (the "wabbit season . . duck season . . wabbit season . . duck season . . . duck season . . . BLAM!" - - see Daffy's beak around his neck in a smog of gun powder) that had been "gun-violence sanitized" (damn PC BS) so that you never saw Elmer fire the gun. Daffy's beack just mysteriously ends up off his head for no apparent reason. This charade is supposed to be less harmful to kids than the hoax of guns not killing?? I doubt the wisdom of this. Having seen this episode - - and numerous others in the same "fun with guns" vein - - I have yet to have the urge to climb the bell tower and open fire on the hapless masses. Somehow, I think something other than knowing the source of Daffy's mis-located beak casues the psyhcos of this type to snap.

As to the new cartoons, they will of course never match the glory of Looney Tunes' slighly off-color glory, but I nonethless highly recommend the "Fairly Odd Parents" - - voices are great, and the subtle innuendo is endless.

Finaly, whenever I now (rarely) get the opportunity to eat Crunchberry Captin Crunch, I still eat all of the "regular" morsels first, so I can then gorge myself on nothing but a sweet bowl of suger-ladden "berries."

No, I guess it wasn't finlally . . The other day while passing by a dead skunk on the road while taking the kids to school, I had to bust out with "Le Mew, Le Meow, Le Mew row row row . . .Un skunk le Pewwww!"

My kids think I'm high.

zen wizard said...

I consider Carrotblanca to be perhaps one of the most romantic movies ever made.

Of course, I have not had a meaningful relationship in over 5 years.

"The Oily American," featuring Moe Hican, was much more watchable and less violent than, The Last of the Mohicans.

And I will bet that Mel Blanc was way less of a pain-in-the-ass to work with than Daniel Day-Lewis.

Come to think of it, "The Oily American" was There Will Be Blood MEETS The Last of the Mohicans.

So Mel Blanc accomplished in :30-minutes what it took Daniel Day-Lewis 200-minutes to do.

Lynne said...

Thanks for bringing back some great childhood memories, is Foghorn Leghorn still on??? I miss him! I totally agree with your cartoon assessments. The Barber of Seville, best cartoon opera ever! I also agree that anime sucks. I must disagree with the cereal choice, Cap'n Crunch rules.

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So@24 said...

Bugs Bunny also was hot when he dressed up as a woman.

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Pa Gub'ment stooge said...

Found you via my goddess Angry Office Manager. Props for reading her.

I too love and quote the occasional Bugs cartoon to my kids. To elaborate on Mr. Stuckey's comment I watched them as well and never felt the urge to climb the bell tower and shoot the masses. That didn't come until I stated working and the only reason I don't climb said tower is the knowledge learned through Bugs Bunny that guns dont really kill ducks (people) so why bother.

I was exposed to opera as a child on occasion and my mom still listens to it on whatever goofy station she listens to and the Barber of Seville came on and I commented how I loved this piece of music. She puffed up, glad that her exposing me to classic music had had a positive effect. Then I said "Yea it is one of the best Bugs Bunny cartoons ever."
She sighed that motherly "my son is the biggest idiot in the world" sigh that only mothers can do.
I think she wrote me out of her will as well.

wundermary said...

Have you ever thought about how much cross-dressing Bugs does?
I have recently found out that there is a film library in Madison, WI that contains an extensive collection of WB cartoons. Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies! I am so looking forward to seeing all of the politically incorrect stuff that just doesn't air anymore.

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