Whatever happened to Looney Tunes cartoons?
Every time I get to see what it is that children watch these days (sleek and stylized if in two-dimensions; glossy and gleaming if in three-dimensions), I feel an overwhelming pity. (Whether it’s for them or for myself—and the bygone childhood of the generation I represent—I’m not quite sure).
I owe the most memorable moments of my classical music education to Looney Tunes. To this day I can’t listen to Johann Strauss’ The Blue Danube without thinking of ducks, or his Tales from the Vienna Woods without thinking of dogs, or Richard Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries without thinking of, well, wabbits. Do any of the cartoons today actually refer to humanity’s shared musical legacy? Do they actually enrich young minds by connecting them to the fruits of the glorious past?
I think not.
(What they do, on the other hand, is seduce children into buying particular brands of cereal.)
While there are a few “modern” animated series that I do like (notably John Dilworth’s Courage the Cowardly Dog and Genndy Tartakovsky’s Samurai Jack) none of their episodes hold a candle to classics like Hair-Raising Hare (1946), The Scarlet Pumpernickel (1949), Water, Water Every Hare (1952), Duck Dodgers in the 24 ½ Century (1953) and Bewitched Bunny (1954).
(To this day, I can still get my sister in stitches just by aping the lines from the last-mentioned short:
Little German boy: “My name is HAWNZL.”
Little German girl: “And my name is GREYTL.”
And also to this day, I think the coolest weapon in the world is Marvin the Martian’s Illudium Q36 Explosive Space Modulator—supplemented, of course, with a handful of Instant Martians.)
And although I’ve read that revivals of the series and of individual characters are underway (a few have already been attempted), it’s clear that an era has ended—and it’s entirely our loss.