Faith Can Move Mountains... But Dynamite Works Better

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Hunger Pangs Of A Wile E. Coyote

"For shame, Doc. Hunting rabbits with an elephant gun. Why don't you shoot yourself an elephant?" ~ Bugs Bunny

"I may be a craven little coward, but I'm a greedy craven little coward." ~ Daffy Duck

"At wast! The wong awm of the waw is weaching out and cwosing in on you. You scwewy wabbit." ~ Elmer Fudd

"Why it's gettin' so a man can't earn a dishonest livin' no more!" Yosemite Sam

"One thing I've learned while chasing the bird... avoid the dog!" ~ Sylvester

"I know this defies the laws of gravity, but I never studied law." ~ Bugs Bunny

If you've had the pleasure of growing up watching Looney Tunes cartoons, you were a very lucky person indeed. If you didn't, how much of a deprived childhood did you have, growing up without the demented anarchy of Bugs, the Road Runner and the Coyote, Pepe Le Pew, Sylvester, Foghorn Leghorn, and Yosemite Sam?

Bugs of course is the signature character of the franchise, usually annoying Elmer Fudd or Yosemite Sam. Despite the fact that they're usually far better armed, they're the ones who end up exasperated and get their own plans blowing up (literally) in their faces. His smart-aleck mouth, coolness under pressure, and occasional crossdressing tendencies persist in keeping us amused. 

It's a bit hard to root for Sam or Elmer. They're the authors of their own misfortunes, and they're case studies in hair trigger tempers and an inability to walk away when they should know better. They could avoid that rifle backfiring on them, or the TNT they seem to have in plenty of supply blowing up in their faces (just where do they get all those explosives?) if they only set their pride aside and walked away. But no, Elmer and Sam can't do anything that makes sense, after all...

Admittedly, the Tweety and Sylvester toons always struck me as maladjusted. Maybe it's that I'm a cat person- I was always rooting for Sylvester. Maybe it's also that unlike other protagonists, Tweety always  had to depend on others to save him, the dog, for instance, or cranky Granny (was she born with the name Granny?). Yes, I was always rooting for Sylvester to somehow get Tweety.

Of course it never happened. Sylvester and his creative voice impediments suffered from a basic condition that afflicts most Looney Tunes antagonists. He wasn't all that bright. Yes, he could be obsessive about getting that bird, but was it really worth it? The bird was little more than one bite big to begin with. All that energy expended to chase down something that's not even snack sized. A smarter animal would say to himself that maybe it's a better idea to just order out or hang around the fish market for dinner. Not Sylvester. That loveable but dumb kitty mostly had blinders on to all but the idea of a Tweety Bird a flambe dinner.

Which brings us to the other bird and predator conflict of these cartoons. The Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote. Unlike Tweety, the Road Runner could nicely take care of himself. That super speed of his was ability enough to ensure his survival. And he didn't prattle on, unlike Tweety. Also unlike Sylvester, Wile E. came across as smart. Here we had a coyote capable of building complex machinery, death traps, and weapons in the middle of nowhere. And he had the financial resources to regularly buy equipment from the ever reliable Acme Company. So yes, he was smart. But he was also obsessed with a bird dinner. So much so that instead of just using those soft skills from years spent in weapons engineering and the financial wealth at his disposal to order out for pizza, he'd go out of his way to figure out some new way to get that Road Runner.

You have to feel sorry for him. Because there were moments when his carefully laid scheme was being laid to waste, and he knew it- and he'd just stare with that helpless look in his eyes as the train was bearing down on him, or the cannon was about to fire on him, or the giant rock was plunging straight down at him.... and you just couldn't help but feel such a deep pity for him.

It didn't help that on those rare occasions when he managed to somehow walk away from nearly getting blown to smithereens by his latest project gone wrong, and was catching his breath and thanking his lucky stars that he was still alive.... that the Road Runner would stop right behind him, feel inspired to be a sadist, startle the living daylights out of him by blurting out "Beep Beep!"... and send him plunging off the cliff yet again.


  1. I agree with you on some points. Genius is rare in the world of Looney Tunes. If you put the intellectual abilities of Elmer, Sam and Sylvester together, you still couldn't get a room-temperature IQ.

    Wile E. Coyote is my favorite in this group, but I still have to question his intelligence. He's smart enough to hatch these wild schemes, but not smart enough to send out for pizza after all these years?

    Anyway, at his age, Road Runner's going to be one tough old bird!

  2. I enjoyed but didn't delve into the characters as deeply as you guys :) My sister in law is a writer too.. I frustrate her also :)

  3. I always loved Bugs, when he leaned against a house/stump/tree/whatever while chomping on that carrot!

  4. I adored the Looney Tunes. They were beautifully drawn, great characters and hysterical story lines. I always wished Sylvester would eat Tweety though.
    My favorite Bugs Bunny/Elmer Fudd were the opera ones. We would breaking out singing lines from the "Opera" always ending with Elmer's Kill the wabbit....
    The garbage most channels pretend is animation (Disney, looking at you ) is very sad.
    My Mum loved Peppy la Pew and we would sit and watch those together.

    cheers, parsnip

  5. Bugs was my hero until I discovered Clint. Now I have hubs. LOL Cute post.

  6. @Norma: unlike Elmer and Sam, at least Sylvester purrs.

    @Grace: as writers we're meant to question things.

    @Cheryl: he's such a smart aleck.

    @Parsnip: Kill the wabbit, kill the wabbit, kill the wabbit!

    @Eve: thank you!

  7. The martian! We want the martian! Whatever happened to the illudium Q-36 explosive space modulator!

    =) Ah, the memories!

  8. I was almost named after Bugs. My dad insisted if I'd been a boy, I had to be named after one of his two favorite movie stars: Bugs Bunny was one of them.

    Still, I'd prefer Bugs Bunny to the name I got....

  9. Loved the Looney Tunes! Also Heckle & Jeckle. Woody Woodpecker was a favorite too!

  10. Very enjoyable post. Wiley and Sylvester have my vote!

  11. There was an episode of Supernatural last season in which people in a town suddenly started dying in cartoon ways: Crushed by an anvil, for instance, and one found himself standing on thin air before he suddenly fell. There was no doubt what inspired the writers, and it made me yearn for the innocent old days of Bugs & Co.

  12. I totally believe the Roadrunner owns Acme. Makes sense.

  13. Did you hear the interview on CBC regarding a family coping with (I think) a kid's autism using Disney movie lines? You might find a parallel here!
    There is wisdom in some writers!

  14. I grew up watching Looney Tunes. A lucky childhood, indeed.

    Bugs was/is my favorite. Scamps are more fun than obsessives, it seems to me.

  15. Great post. Very enjoyable too. And loved reading all the comments!

  16. I loved the Looney Tunes. It made me laugh.

  17. I was a Tom & Jerry girl growing up--used to love that show! Though the futility of it all did strike me as odd at times.


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