Sunday, April 7, 2024


from "Bully for Bugs" (1953)

“What makes me fulfilled and able to bring my best self to work?”

“I think I perceive this the other way around - I am always as good a person as I can be upon arriving at work, the battle is how much of that remains by the end of the day. Think of it as a Bugs Bunny cartoon, where they are living their best life until someone does something to threaten it.”

Never ask me to answer an open question on a form – you are only inviting me to write. Having said that, my reply most importantly generated laughter, and was understood immediately. Bugs bunny has a way with words too, more about how they are said, that I wish I could emulate.

Similarly, Bugs Bunny has to be provoked into action, although I know, being a cartoon character, he is substantially stronger than me. Therefore, his adversaries must be stronger still, not easily beaten and worthy of the challenge, as delineated by Bugs’ frequent director Charles M. “Chuck” Jones in his memoirs “Chuck Amuck” (1989) and “Chuck Reducks” (1996), both invaluable in understanding the art of animation. In the former book, Jones understood the character he refined with fellow Warner Bros directors Fred “Tex” Avery (who added the Bronx-Brooklyn accent and “what’s up doc?” catchphrase), Robert “Bob” Clampett, Isadore “Friz” Freleng and Robert “Robert” McKimson:

“A wild wild hare was not for me; what I needed was character with the spicy, somewhat erudite introspection of a Professor Higgins, who, when nettled or threatened, would respond with the swagger of D'Artagnan as played by Errol Flynn, with the articulate quick-wittedness of Dorothy Parker – in other words, the Rabbit of my dreams.”

To that end, Bugs Bunny was an “inspiration” for who Jones wanted to be, with the unsuccessful schemer Daffy Duck serving as “recognition” for who he was. In “Chuck Reducks”, Jones noted that, in his cartoons, Bugs’ enemies were generally larger than him, with Elmer Fudd’s gun making him larger; Freleng, as the creator of Yosemite Sam, had enemies smaller in stature; but McKimson, whose final character sheet around 1949 defined Bugs’ look from then on, took on Avery’s wilder additions to Bugs’ character, with unpredictability and changes in mood, plus “plant[ing] a very combative kiss on an adversary’s face”, which Charlie Chaplin did in his 1916 short film “The Floorwalker”.

Bugs’ use of drag, knowing his adversary would then underestimate the character presented in front of them, was another part of his arsenal: “his wits are his basic weapon; he tries to avoid physical conflict when possible, believing that almost all contretemps can be solved with intelligence and humo[u]r.” I'll have more to say about this at another time.

There are times when, confronted with something someone has said or done, or reading or watching a news story, my response has been, “oh, here we go”, or “so we’re doing that now, are we?” Fortunately, I usually turn that response into a structured and considered article, instead of going on social media, where real life doesn’t exist anyway, looking for a fight. However, the moment you impact me directly, then of course, you realise, this means war.

from "Long-Haired Hare" (1949)

No comments:

Post a Comment