More than a year ago in a post that’s proven quite popular according to my blog stats, I lamented the fact that kids today were growing up without the proper life lessons that can only be imparted by classic Looney Tunes cartoons.
Cartoon Network has responded by airing an all-new Looney Tunes show, titled, appropriately enough, “The Looney Tunes Show.”
This is so not what I had in mind, Cartoon Network. This is not the answer.
The show began airing two weeks ago and I would have mentioned it then but we were in the middle of Thor Week and, well, priorities. “The Looney Tunes Show” airs at 7 p.m. God’s Time on Tuesdays and is repeated ad infinitum throughout the week. Don’t bother looking it up.
I’ve watched two episodes so you don’t have to. Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck are now roommates living in a house in the suburbs. In the first episode they go on a game show. In the second, Daffy crashes a country club and Bugs dates a stalker.
That’s right — they’ve turned Bugs and Daffy into sitcom actors.
In the middle of each half-hour episode they stick in a random music video starring one of the other Looneys. The first night Porky Pig sang a song about grilled cheese. The second night Marvin the Martian sang about being a Martian. Neither song will be downloaded onto anyone’s iPod anytime soon.
It must be rough being a cartoon character. Oh sure, you’re immortal and never age and that’s great but the downside is you don’t really exist and so people can come along and really mess with you. Bugs Bunny in a sitcom? And not even a very funny one? Somebody’s made a wrong turn at Albuquerque.
Here’s the deal, Cartoon Network. From roughly 1940 to 1963 a cadre of incredibly talented animators, writers, musicians and voice talent crafted the Greatest Short Subject Animation Ever Made. And here’s the best part — not only are they great, they are timeless. They are as funny today as they were 60 years ago. Wile E. Coyote falling off a cliff never gets old.
Now I’m sure some marketing person told you that kids today don’t want to watch cartoons that are older than their grandparents. But that’s wrong. The great Looney Tunes have always been old. They were made before television. They transcend time.
Sure, some of the references don’t make sense to kids, but they’re kids, lots of stuff doesn’t make sense to them. Heck, I didn’t get those references when I was a kid either. And that’s the point. When I was watching Looney Tunes in the late 60s/early 70s, they were already 20-30 years old. And I didn’t know. And if I had known I wouldn’t have cared. Kids today won’t know or care either.
When Elmer Fudd shoots off Daffy Duck’s beak, it’s funny. It was funny in 1952, it was funny in 1962, it was funny in 1972, it was funny in 1992, and 2002, and it’s freaking funny today. (To be fair, it wasn’t funny in 1982 because that was when network censors started cutting all the violence out of Looney Tunes before airing them on Saturday mornings. Dark times.)
Now, I’m not anti-new so I’ll make you a deal, Cartoon Network. When you can make a Looney Tunes cartoon that is as clever, funny and timeless as “What’s Opera, Doc?” or “One Froggy Evening” or “Duck Amuck” then I will apologize and cheer you on.
But if you can’t reach that standard, then don’t even bother. You’re hurting the brand, you’re hurting the legacy and you’re hurting Bugs and Daffy.
And that’s despicable.