Thursday, July 3, 2008

Inspired Madness -- Warner Bros. Cartoons

From Wall Street Journal, Inspired by a Bunny Wabbit, 6/28/08

The Mount Rushmore of Warner Bros. cartoons would be composed of the not-so-solemn faces of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, and the token human, Elmer Fudd. As a young viewer, I had no doubts about the superiority of this gang to the characters of Disney. Disney cartoons were tame, conventional, Apollonian. Warner Bros.' were manic, unnerving, iconoclastic, spastic, Dionysian. The most telling difference was that the Disney characters had romantic partners, spouses, even families of a kind. There was something treacly about the scenes where Mickey and Minnie's smooches were accompanied by all those little red hearts floating in the air. Donald had his Daisy and somehow three nephews even though their parent, the duck's brother or sister, was never mentioned. The Disney characters were socialized, domesticated, bourgeois. Warner Bros. characters, with the exception of hen-pecked Porky and his Petunia, were mavericks -- unregenerate, anti-social. There is no Mrs. Fudd. And a Mrs. Daffy Duck? Inconceivable. Sex in the Warner toons was more likely to be transgressive and connected to deception, especially cross-dressing. Bugs is quick to put on a frock and kiss Elmer on the mouth but only for the purpose of fooling his perennial victim. Disney-romance led to marriage. Warner Brothers-romance was linked to guile and aimed at redress.

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