Today is Bugs Bunny’s 75th Birthday!
I really really really really feel bad for today’s kids. I’m going to safely assume that 90% of them have never seen a classic Looney Tunes cartoon. Mine have but very little and that’s because I made sure they saw some and I plan to make it more commonplace as they get a little older and they can appreciate the tremendously talented and unrivaled comedy.
Now I know I watched some odd old shit growing up. I adored and idolized the Marx Brothers and Buster Keaton and other comedy greats. I read books about the history of cinematic comedy and did school reports in middle school about them. It was quite the odd obsession. Notably in this realm is of course, good ‘ol Bugs. I watched some Disney shorts and cartoons when I was younger but not to the extent of how much I watched the Warner Brothers classics. I watched them before school, Saturday mornings and watched my VHS copy of The Looney, Looney, Looney Bugs Bunny Movie until it broke. Still to this day I consider Bugs and the WB gang the pinnacle of cinematic comedy. Not too much else comes close to the timelessness and greatness of these old cartoons. They put SNL, Bob Hope, George Carlin and any other comedian or funny person to shame. There is simply no comparison.
Yet, here we are in the early 21st century and they are lingering in history, with probably only my generation to keep them alive. Is this an exaggeration? Perhaps but when I was younger they were prominently on TV, regular TV mind you not just Cartoon Network (I’m only assuming they devote some time to the WB guys, I haven’t looked it up). I had T-shirts with characters on them and our local Six Flags had a special kiddie section devoted all to the Looney Tunes gang. The Tiny Toon Adventures was a popular show featuring the younger generation of the WB characters. The last attempt to have new cartoons was that mediocre Joe Dante flick, Back in Action (which sadly, I admit, I have yet to see—but can you blame me, it stars Brendan Fraser!). There’s rumors abound about a Space Jam sequel now that LeBron has had his size 15 toes dipped in the acting pool but seriously, we all know how that will turn out. (I’ve only seen bits and pieces of the original Space Jam but I don’t know too many people my age who has—which is somewhat proving my point)
So exposure to the Looney Tunes has diminished greatly since I was younger and it’s probably going to get worse. If it wasn’t for the great DVD sets that WB has released, there’s virtually no public interest in this brand of comedy. If I were Warner Brothers (and if I was I would have my huge hands full with their DC comics imminent trainwreck) I would seriously consider putting the classic shorts in front of their movies and not just their family-friendly fare either. Even if it was a horror movie, I would put a Halloween/spooky/monster-themed Looney Tunes cartoon in the front like the days of old. Would anyone complain of that? The adults wouldn’t mind watching a 7-minute comedy classic and the younger kids will be introduced more to the greatest comedy of the last century. It’s a win-win. This needs to happen to revive this neglected franchise. Having LeBron James try to act with a cartoon Yosemite Sam is not going to bring in the numbers that the original Space Jam did. But with countless sequels to Ice Age, Minions, Rio and whatever [talking animal] franchise is coming out, where are the WB gang? Hell, Charlie Brown and Snoopy are attempting a cinematic comeback this year; why isn’t Bugs shining brighter on the big (or small) screen?
It’s our duty to make sure these comedy greats continue to stand the test of time. It isn’t enough to have them merely play imaginary basketball with Kobe Bryant. The original classics are so good that every generation needs to watch at least some of them. It should be a part of public education. If every generation has to read Moby Dick or A Catcher in the Rye, why can’t they watch a few cartoons too? Hells yes I compared Melville to Friz Freleng and Chuck Jones! I’m that serious. I think even Mark Twain would agree to this. We should be celebrating Bugs Bunny’s birthday as a holiday!
I salute you Bugs Bunny! 75 years old and only one grey hare!
Here are some of Bugs’ best bits: