Saturday, January 17, 2009

Racism Most Fowl

Everyone on the planet has seen at least one Looney Tunes cartoon at one time or another. While certainly entertaining and considered a cornerstone of animation and comedy in some circles (for some reason lost in time), they are also some of the most racist series of cartoons ever made. I'm not just talking about the 11 censored ones, but all of them. Some were more obvious malicious attacks on down-trodden races, others were subtle but still harmful. Those were meant to subliminally brainwash white kids into thinking they were the superior race. The worst of these is the Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck relationship. This was deliberately set up to help the white man laugh at the black man as he tries to overcome 400 years of oppression. It's all there. Bugs with his all-American pleasing whiteboy features contrasting with Daffy looking like a big-lipped minstrel Sambo. This blog entry will attempt to elucidate the harmful, racial elements that the cartoons of Bugs and Daffy have and continue to erode society. This will be done on a cartoon by cartoon basis.

Porky Pig's Feat (by Frank Tashlin c. 1943)
The main focus of this cartoon is that Porky andDaffy are trying to get out of paying their hotel bill because Daffy lost all their money shooting craps (see? there's one already). The pig and the duck try all sorts of tricks to punk this manager but he pops up in their faces every time. They end up getting shackled to a ball &
chain (look familiar). But then they figure their last hope would be for Bugs Bunny to come in and rescue them.
That right there does it for me? They need a white man to "rescue" a black man? Was this
cartoon written by the same people who were running South Africa at the time? Were theytrying make everyone think that whitey was down there "rescuing"
everybody? That must have been the lie they were trying to put across because at one point, Daffy refers to Bugs as his "hero". Daffy
would be a little smarter than that later on fortunately, but it was nowhere near progressive enough. Although, it turns out in the end that Bugs has been chained to his hotel room by the same manager as well. Even the white devil himself can't oppress his way out of this one.

Rabbit Fire (by Chuck Jones c. 1951)
This cartoon is the start of the whole Wabbit Season / Duck Season thing. Right here is where Daffy first tried to strike against the man. In this case he has two whiteys to deal with, Bugs Bunny AND Elmer Fudd. And yet nobody's going to give him a break, certainly not the racist writers and cartoonists who put this together. Every time the argument starts up about which hunting season it is, Elmer always believes Bugs because they're both white and thus stick together. And what does Daffy get for losing? A gunshot to the face. That ain't funny on the streets and it definitely ain't funny here. White people shooting other races should never be a basis for comedy. Especially when that very routine could inspire little kids to grow up and join Klan chapters thinking all those attempts at genocide are funny.
But, the MOST disturbing part of this whole cartoon comes in the middle. Daffy puts on a rabbit suit and pretends to be Bugs while Bugs puts on a Duck suit and pretends to be Daffy. Okay now, I can understand why they'd have Bugs do blackface. That's a part of a bigot's everyday life. But, Daffy doing whiteface??!!
Not only is this scene extremely racist to us here on earth, but it's also racist and offensive to those in a parallel universe. Daffy's
whiteface minstrel act would deeply offend the whiteys being put down by their black oppressors there. Is there anybody that these cartoons DON'T offend?
Of course, at the end, it turns out to be Elmer season which has Bugs & Daffy team up to smash Fudd. I know Daffy has the white devil helping him, but I do enjoy seeing "the man" get his. Oh yeah!

Rabbit Seasoning (by Chuck Jones c. 1952)
The 'which season is it' argument is revisited here. It's two oppressors against one unemancipated minority just like before. However, in this one they add another offensive put down. In this one, Daffy gets what they called "pronoun trouble". This clearly makes light of the idea of black people being poorly educated. Oh sure, make it illegal for black folks to have an education and then put them down for a "lack of book smarts". That is typical fascist behavior. Warner Bros. would NEVER have gotten away with that after the civil rights movement, that's for sure. And they sure as Hell wouldn't get away with that in a Barack Obama world either.
The ending is equally as (for lack of a better word) despicable. The last shot fired on Daffy's face wasn't done outright. Elmer Fudd escorted Daffy to his home and THEN popped a cap in his beak. How many times has that happened where whitey acts allfriendly inviting you into his home and then gets you when you let your guard down? Too many, that's how often. Take a lesson from Daffy. Don't do what he did. Don't let paleface mess you up like that.

Duck Amuck (by Chuck Jones c. 1953)
This cartoon is MOST DEFINITELY Warner Bros.'
attempt to make Daffy into a full blown Uncle Tom. Aided by Bugs, they do all manner of injustices to Daffy in order to bend him to their will. Not only do they constantly redraw and repaint the background he's in, they redraw and repaint him too. At one point Daffy is even erased completely. How many white folks would like to do THAT for real, huh? No calculator in the world can count that high.
But the worst one of all those indignities, yes worse than the full erasure, is the one where they manipulate the film so that Daffy meets his doppelganger twin. They made the twin a disagreeable ass just so that Daffy would pick a fight with himself. The makers of this cartoon were hoping that this would inspire black-on-black violence
within black neighborhoods all over the country and possibly the world. This way they could eliminate more black folks from the comfort of their own gated communities without getting their hands dirty.
Bottom line, this cartoon is every white supremacist's wet dream come true. The black man is completely within whitey's control and there's nothing that anybody can do about it. Dr. King and Malcolm X would fight this sort of thing years later.

Duck, Rabbit! Duck! (by Chuck Jones c. 1953)
This is the last time Bugs and Daffy would argue about hunting seasons but it's not the last time they'd be together. Besides Ducks and Rabbits, the hunting seasons of
Dirty Skunks, Mongooses, Pigeons and Baseballs comes into play as well. Most of those get Daffy a shot in the face of course.
What makes this particular cartoon
extremely offensive is the time of year it's set. Winter. The black duck is surrounded by whitesnow.
This makes the violence against
Daffy much more potent. It's as if everyone who made this cartoon are saying "you're in a white neighborhood now, boy". Not cool. In fact, that's cold.








Beanstalk Bunny (by Chuck Jones c. 1955)
In this cartoon, Daffy portrays the Jack character from Jack and the Beanstalk. He climbs up the beanstalk followed closely by Bugs. When they get to the top they meet a giant Elmer Fudd. For the bulk of the cartoon, both Daffy & Bugs have to put aside their differences and work together in order to evade the ultimate symbol of white oppression. It's actually quite a fairly progressive
and positive cartoon............ UNTIL THE VERY END!! Bugs Bunny gets away from the giant and is rewarded with his favorite food. Daffy however is converted into Elmer Fudd's pocket watch. Here's a brief history lesson asto why this is such a negative image. The idea of black people as clocks goes way way back to the ancient Greeks. One ofthe first Greek emperors to send explorers to Africa was Nicholas Spartopolous who ruled at approximately 3000 B.C. His explorers came back with many tales of people with dark skin which they found ridiculous. A translation found on one of the goat skins used as a log states "they were just as savage as the wildest animals of the jungle". Now, Emperor Nicholas had one obsession, time keepers. He prided himself in
possessing the most elegant time pieces in the known world, (none of which can be found today because all were destroyed in a brutal peasent uprising). Upon learning of these Africans, he of course did not view them as people. Therefore, he wanted a huge hourglass
to be constructed. But, instead of sand, he'd fill it with the African savages. Hundreds of Africans mostly from Ethiopia and Somalia were kidnapped in the dead of night by Greek soldiers and placed inside the hourglass once it was constructed. Since then, all throughout the centuries and even to this day, whenever a white person sees a black person, their immediate thought before any others is "he would make a nice clock". That's what white folks are thinking. Flava Flav tried to confront this stereotype with that big clock of his around his neck, but it did little good sadly. So, I say to you black folks all over the world, if a white person tries to ask you what time it is, RUN. Even if you are with a heavily armed group and one feeble old man asks for the time, don't stay and fight, just RUN. You do NOT want to take chances with your life over this.


Sahara Hare (by Friz Freleng c. 1955)
This cartoon is mostly about Bugs dealing with Yosemite Sam in a desert fort. Daffy only makes a cameo at the end in this one. But, what an offensive cameo it is. He pops out of the ground mistaking this desert for Miami Beach. Oh no no no no no! They should NOT have ended with the stereotype that (supposedly) black people can't tell the difference between beaches
and deserts. The entire race has been labelled unfairly with this
stereotype. Ironically, it's only happened twice. The first was a man named Elmore Plinkett. In 1832, he died naked running around the Arizona desert trying to go skinny dipping. The second one to do this was Jim "Rocking Horse" Lardfarmer. He ate nothing but
shoelaces and gave birth to a litter of kittens (don't ask how he did this). Those are the only occurrences. The unfair part is that plenty of white folks have made this mistake all throughout history. Hell, John McCain was born and raised in Arizona. He still has trouble making the distinction. Don't tell me that's just a "black thing".










This is a Life? (by Friz Freleng c. 1955)
This cartoon is of course based on the popular show This Is Your Life. Here, instead of Ralph Edwards, Elmer Fudd is the host. Just like in the show, Elmer announces that a famous celebrity is in the audience and that he will pick that individual, bring him to the stage, and do a show about him. And of course Elmer completely brushes off the black celebrity Daffy and calls on one of his fellow whiteys, Bugs Bunny.
What makes this development even more irritating is that in real life Ralph Edwards was a total flaming racist. If had more creative control, he would have ONLY honored white celebrities. People talk about classical composer Richard Wagner's racism but he was an Obama supporter compared to Ralph Edwards. All sorts of racial slurs would eminate from his mouth when the camera was off. Even Clint Eastwoods' Gran Torino character would be covering his ears if he spent more than 5 minutes with this man. The only reason he never joined the KKK was because he felt they "weren't doing enough". But, he committed his most heinous offence during Rosa Parks' rebellion and the Alabama bus boycott. When Ralph heard about this, the first thing he did was purchase a city bus. He put signs all over the inside of it that said 'Whites Only'. The 'Colored Section' of his bus was a little red wagon hitched to the back. He'd drive that bus around all over Los Angeles just to rub it in further. But, as disgusting as his bus was, a brother has places to go and important things to do. Many people in the black community rode that bus to work, school, church, or wherever they had to go. People like a young Marvin Gaye, Jeremiah Wright, David Dinkins, Slappy White, Richard Pryor, Alan Thicke, Emmanuel Lewis, George Forman, Angela Davis, Grand Master Flash, and everyone who would eventually become the 1972 Harlem Globetrotters just to name a few. They weren't going to let Ralph's assinine behavior stop them from living their lives.

A Star is Bored (by Friz Freleng c. 1956)
Again, we deal with the blatant racism within the TV and movie industry. In this one Bugs is a superstar while Daffy is not. So, when Daffy marches into the big office and demands his piece of the pie, the man makes him Bugs' stunt double. So, of course, Bugs does the easy work while Daffy risks his safety doing all the violent stunts.
Truth be known, this has been going on in Hollywood for years. Black people haven't just been maids and butlers, you know. They've been put in full white suits and were made to perform dangerous stunts. That's why Daffy is in a bunny suit the whole time. Besides pissing off that previously mentioned parellel universe again, this cartoon is trying to make this kind of injustice seem 'funny'. Well, I don't think it's so funny. Many many times a black person has died doing these stunts. The studios just get rid of the bodies and hope noone investigates. These stunt men have died
deaths you wouldn't believe. That scene in Bridge on the River Kwai when the bridge blows up, that was just a bunch of black
stunt men ontop of each other. That scene at the end of Old Yeller when the dog gets shot, that was a black man in a dog suit. The sad irony of that is the dog Yeller is STILL ALIVE. He works mostly behind the scenes but he's still quite active in the movie industry (and has much sway over who's cast in what part as well). Best Doggone Dog in the West, my ass.

Ali Baba Bunny (by Chuck Jones c. 1957)
Bugs and Daffy find themselves in the Middle East this time. They slip passed Arab stereotypes and manage to sneak into a cave full of the Sultan's treasure. When guard Hassan tries to stop them from stealing the treasure, Bugs Bunny dresses up like a genie and 'grants' Hassan a wish.
Bugs' display of "Ickety Ackety Oop" and such is clearly meant to be an assault on the Arab world. This cartoon has caused more damage in the Middle East than the Religious Crusades and the Iraq War combined. Clearly THIS is the reason both President Bushes have waged war in this region, they don't see Iraqis as people. America now thinks Iraq is just a 'bunch of Hassans' whose crushing
demise would be comical to them.
In terms of black/white relations, Bugs irreverent display is also a swipe at any black individuals who have converted to Islam in their lives such as Malcolm X, Stepin Fetchit, and Muhammed Ali. No wonder the Nation of Islam is upset.
In just 44 years after this cartoon was made, Al Qaida sends terrorists over to destroy the Twin Towers. COINCIDENCE??!! I think not.

Show Biz Bugs (by Friz Freleng c. 1957)
In this one, Bugs and Daffy are simply putting on a show. They're
first act is a tap-dancing duet which they both perform very well.





But, as it turns out, when they're
done Bugs gets all the applause while Daffy gets none. That is quite a disingenuous thing to put into this cartoon.









It is a known fact that no black performer has EVER gotten any applause while on stage. Never Ever Ever Ever Ever Ever Ever!!





It has NEVER NEVER NEVER EVER EVER EVER NEVER NEVER EVER happened.

Although, at the end of this cartoon, Daffy does manage to get some applause. But, he has to drink flammable liquids, strike a match and kill himself to do it. Is the message of this cartoon that all black people have to kill themselves in order to finally be shown respect by the white community? Is this yet another attempt to thin out the numbers of those of African descent? I think so, but I hope not.






Apes of Wrath (by Friz Freleng c. 1959)
Like Sahara Hare, Daffy only makes a cameo appearance at the end of this cartoon. Apparently, the stork brought Daffy to Bugs as a son. Clearly this is meant to ridicule all those celebrities who adopt Third World babies. Or, this could have been a cheap way to have a black man enslaved by a white man while also suffering the indignity of wearing a diaper. Nothing is too demeaning for Hollywood.
Actually, the rest of the cartoon isn't too kind either. It seems that prior to this moment, Bugs had been adopted by a family of monkeys. I'll let you in on a little secret. In Hollywood, especially in cartoons, monkeys have ALWAYS been used to represent black people. In the movie Bedtime for Bonzo, Ronald Reagan actually thought he was working with Sidney Poitier the whole time. It would be another 40 years before
the Gipper would realize his mistake. Another example is Magilla Gorilla. In this show, Mr. Peebles is a slave owner and Magilla is a smiling Uncle Tom. It's no secret that Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera hated the black race. It's no coincidence that Magilla Gorilla came out around the same time as Dr. King's "I Had a Dream" speech. Magilla was their response to the whole civil rights movement. They continued this attitude of theirs well into the 1970's with a show called Grape Ape. There's a tribe in Africa in the South Eastern part of Mozambique called the Flubus. One of their rituals is to inject the juice of a !!yonberry (similar to a cranberry) into their bloodstream which gives their skin a distinctive shade o
f purple. The Grape Ape is clearly a swipe at this tribe.
The most recent animated abomination along these lines is Space Chimps. I guess they want us all to laugh at the idea of black astronauts. Sorry little Jimmy and little Susie, you can't achieve your dream of flying in space because white America and an even whiter NASA just won't accept you yet.

People Are Bunny (by Robert McKimson c. 1959)
This cartoon begins with one of the most offensive and destructive images of black people possible. Daffy actually invades Bugs' home and points a gun at him. This image of the crazed black man criminal has been a thorn in the side of racial progress for years. THAT'S the main reason the white man has thought the need to keep on oppressing that race even to this day. They are all deathly afraid.
Afraid of what? That the black race will dominate the culture? That they'll finally get revenge for 400 years (going on 500) of oppression? Just look at the fear in Bugs' eyes. Clearly that's what's got him paranoid.
Although, later on in this cartoon, we see that the reason Daffy
shoved a gun in Bugs' gut is to force him to a nearby TV station where he can collect prize money for bringing in a rabbit. However, the white devils work their magic and Daffy ends up in a white-face bunny-suit so that white hunters can shoot at a black man AND they can outrage those poor white folks in that parallel universe again. When will the hurting end?

Person to Bunny (by Friz Freleng c. 1960)
Another peek into the racist world of television. This time it's a send up of the show called Person to Person inwhich host Edward R. Murrow talks to white celebrity guests about why only white people get the lead roles. They never said it outright but that message was loud and clear. (Mr. Murrow did once share an apartment with Ralph Edwards you know). This is DEFINITELY the case with the Bugs
Bunny interview in this cartoon.
When it's only Bugs on the show, everything is fine. But, when a prominant black celebrity pops in, whitey can't do enough to suppress him. Daffy's shoved out the door many many times throughout this cartoon. But then he comes back............. in a
bunny suit. Again, Daffy has to look like the caucasian bunny in order to get any TV exposure. What kind of a message does that send? Do all black actors have to completely sell out like this in order to get any recognition at all? That doesn't sound too positive to me. And you can bet that the oppressed caucasians in the parallel universe (known there as 'caucs') don't appreciate that whiteface neither.

The Abominable Snow Rabbit (by Chuck Jones c. 1961)
Bugs and Daffy accidently travel to the Himalayans. Once again, poor Daffy is surrounded by whiteness in this landscape. Understandibly, Daffy doesn't want to stay in that 'whitey wonderland' for a second so he starts to head back. But, irony of ironies, what does Daffy run into? The biggest white dude anyone's ever seen, that's who. Did the makers of this cartoon want us to laugh at Daffy's predicament of being at the mercy of a vast white conspiracy? Is this every white man's fantasy to have this much influence and control over the black man? I mean, kicking a race when they're down is one thing. But, to thoroughly overwhelm and humiliate an entire race to this degree and disguise it as "entertainment for the
children" is just beyond apprehensible. I hope whoever's responsible for this cartoon are paying for they're hate crimes right now. And, oh look. The black guy's doing white face again. I hope those responsible are paying for they're hate crimes committed against the European-Americans in that parallel universe as well.

The Million Hare (by Robert McKimson c. 1963)
The cartoon opens with Daffy in Bugs home (no gun this time) watching hours and hours of TV. This was definitely meant to perpetuate the stereotype of the lazy black slacker. Daffy's eyes look a little funny too. He might have smoked a few J's beforehand.
Nonetheless, the cartoon really gets underway when the show Beat Your Buddy comes on. Of course, the show pulls the names of
Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck out of the barrel. I guess from that point on they're "buddies" and they have to "beat" each other. Was this set up to cause a clashing of the races? Was it this cartoon that lead to the riots in Watts? Even though the 'beating' Bugs and Daffy give each other in this cartoon is really them racing to the TV studio for the grand prize, the implied beatings are still loud and clear. If any injuries from any hate crimes are given anywhere in the world, we all know who to blame.






The Iceman Ducketh (by Phil Munroe c. 1964)
This cartoon definitely tops them all in offensiveness, racism, and the perpetuating of stereotypes. Daffy is once again surrounded by whiteness, outnumbered by Bugs Bunny and all those thousands of snowflakes. Also, Daffy is once again in possession of a firearm so that we don't forget about that black criminal stereotype. On top of all that, this cartoon further emphasizes the well known stereotype that all black people want to rip the skin off of white people and either sell it for money or just dance around in their flesh thus doing the ultimate whiteface routine. I don't know when that stereotype got started. Oh wait, I remember now. It started just a few minutes ago when I typed that sentence.

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Okay, I'm sure many of you reading this have figured it out by now. But for those of you who still need that "brick of obviousness" to hit you in the face, everything I said before the dashed line came out of my ass. It was all just satirical sarcasm. The fact is, Daffy is as much a negro stereotype as Barack Obama is a "secret Muslim". Both are unfounded rumors conjured up by paranoid goons, spread by reactionary Henny Penny types, and believed by the most gullible of idiots. In truth, Bugs and Daffy were never intended to represent race relations in any way. Bugs isn't necessarily white and Daffy isn't necessarily black. It's their personalities that matter. And part of their charm is that those personalities can be found within people of an
y race or any gender for that matter. That's why people have been able to relate to Bugs and Daffy for all these years. They were meant for entertainment purposes. That is all.
And really, exactly how "harmful" are cartoons anyway? The only image that has actually caused any damage is the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters, and all he did was wreck a few buildings and cover a few city blocks with sticky white goo. The supposed damage done by any other image is in people's minds. It's only as offensive as you want it to be. Of course you might be one of those people that is on some sort of crusade against racism. If that's the case, cartoons are definitely the LAST place you'll want to concentrate your energies. There are much more pressing economic and social issues that need to be addressed first. Then, since films of any length are a reflection of society, once those issues are fixed (or at least improved) the entertainment industry will just take care of itself. It will start to reflect this improved society. The best way to insure that this happens is for everyone to let the creative artists alone to create their work no matter what medium or genre that may be. In a free and democratic society, it only makes sense that freedom of expression be allowed to flourish.

"Hey, David, this little piece at the end is just a diversion. I still think Daffy is a grotesque negro stereotype. You haven't said anything to sway me otherwise."

Well, a picture is worth a thousand words. Here you go:





















See. Pink caucasian skin under his black feathers. Not a black person, stereotype or otherwise. That should be more than enough evidence to put this rumor of Daffy's offensiveness to bed once and for all.

7 comments:

Thad said...

'In the movie Bedtime for Bonzo, Ronald Reagan actually thought he was working with Sidney Poitier the whole time. '

Not as exaggerated as you may think...

Mitch K said...

Nice in-depth essay, Dave! Stick it to 'em!

All essays should be accompanied by cartoony images.

David Germain said...

I concur, Mitch.

Just Curious said...

Do you have any more information or sources about the Mozambique tribe called "Flubus," or the "!!yonberry" fruit? I haven't been able to find any reference to either one, anywhere else, even with various spellings. Perhaps they go by other names?

Thanks!
-L



David Germain writes:
"There's a tribe in Africa in the South Eastern part of Mozambique called the Flubus. One of their rituals is to inject the juice of a !!yonberry (similar to a cranberry) into their bloodstream which gives their skin a distinctive shade of purple."

David Germain said...

Mr. or Miss Curious, just scroll down to the bottom of this post just after the dashed line. That should provide all the information you need.

Anonymous said...

The heck is WRONG with you?! This is the LOONEY TOONEYS you're typing about here, and if you ever pay attention, most if not all of your points are actually baseless and/or suffering from a strong bias and prejudice towards something not present, spreading harsh words toward something people have put their lives into to bring happiness to another. Slightly offensive jokes? Sure, every culture has their errors, look at the Romans. However, that does NOT mean that you have the authority to tear into something like this and think that you're beyond a solid debate that, honestly, if each side were to take in and respect what the other had to say, you would lose. Just, don't make it sound like a paranoid put this down after reading a bunch of conspiracy theories. Otherwise, good work on putting in such effort. Try to have a better understanding of each side of your subject matter before you post such a lengthy work down. Because it will save you a lot of effort and time.

David Germain said...

HA! I'm fooling everybody with this post! This is great!!!