There is an analysis of cartoons I found today which is priceless, and I'm about to get to it, but first a word from our sponsor.
This is true blogging. A post on a blog motivates a post on another blog which prompts a comment to which I am now referring. Hypertext at its purest.
Now. Motivated by Lileks's bleat yesterday, Tim Blair responded with an amusing point about Lileks's "profound Coyote bias." Which led to quite the cartoon discussion.
If you skim down a bit, there's a great comment by "Neuroto" at November 19, 2004 at 6:08 AM.
If we must read leaden political messages into the classics, how about this--it is possible to find a clear split in the philosophy of individualism versus collectivism by comparing the sort of Saturday morning fare available when I was a kid (the 1960's) and what was available twenty years later.
. . . .
Captain Planet and the f****** Smurfs, among other loathsome offenses, came around in the Eighties. Around this time, I spotted-something. It would be paranoid to claim that there was a consious effort to indoctrinate the Children™, but damned if it didn't seem as if all the new stuff seemed to involve groups, all staying together as a group, with no good thing ever done by an individual. Always, these groups had to face a problem presented a single enemy. Any member of the Smurfs, acting alone, usually got his comeuppance if he did something without consulting the other Smurfs, or the Planeteers, for instance. And let's never forget, any desirable outcome was achieved only in a non-threatening, let alone violent, manner.
The old Warner Bros., Paramount and MGM cinema classics? The best ones involved an individual (Bugs,Popeye,etc.), minding his own business, who is set upon by some enemy, and has to come up with a way to triumph, alone and with no help. Frequently, assailed with violence, resorting to like means to bring about a peace for himself which is different from a peaceful resolution--nice if you can get it, but not always possible.
Bugs Bunny is my favorite example of this. Always inoffensive, but Elmer Fudd usually comes to regret shooting at him, because Bugs Bunny is clearly a devotee of Walter Russel Meads theory of warfighting Jacksonianism. Tweety Bird, once attacked, had no compunction whatsoever about waving goodbye fondly to someone who he has just given an anvil to hold in midair, it never bothered Bugs Bunny to jerk the lanyard on a howitzer after getting Yosemite Sam to look down the muzzle, and Popeye, once provoked, routinely dealt out Attica prison-grade beatings to Bluto.
. . . .
The grand characters of the Golden Age of cartoons never needed to work together in a group, cooperating with a bunch of candy-arses like the Smurfs, or that heroin addict Shaggy and his lesbian friend Velma, to get something done. Never bothering anyone else,once attacked they were merciless in attaining peace for themselves, on their terms. If Sylvester didn't want to find himself in a yard with a pit bull and no escape, he shouldn't have chased Tweety there, should he?
Totally right. Totally, totally, totally.
I would note, in addition, though, that Woody Woodpecker always bothered me because he used to pick on Wally Walrus, for example, for no particular reason. Woody was a mean bully. Bugs, in contrast, generally, though not always, was responding to a transgression foisted upon him before we understood that "this means war." (But see, Duck Amuck, where Bugs pretty much tortures Daffy by erasing and redrawing Daffy's scenery, costumes and eventually Daffy himself)