Spear and Magic Helmet?!?
March 18, 2008 6:00 PM   Subscribe

Oh, mighty warrior 'twill be quite a task...Greg Allen reminds us what the mid-century phrase "kill the rabbit" is really all about.
posted by ericbop (14 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Yeah, and Dark Side of the Moon was written as a soundtrack for the Wizard of Oz.

The human mind is designed to draw parallels and make connections where none really exist. If this guy thinks that that Bugs Bunny cartoon was designed to do anything other than a) entertain, and b) destroy the Wagnerian experience for 2 or 3 generations, he's just been smoking too much weed.
posted by Dave Faris at 6:15 PM on March 18, 2008

I knew about "the rabbit died" but only by reverse engineering from the context (also, I think there's a reference in an Aerosmith song). I never put it together with Bugs, though. That's CWAZY.

(And to be fair, some of this symbolism was in the original story the cartoon is based on.)
posted by DU at 6:16 PM on March 18, 2008

I've heard that when you play "Duck Amok" backwards, you hear voices say, "I bewwied the wabbit" and "what's up, dead man?"
posted by PlusDistance at 6:25 PM on March 18, 2008 [2 favorites]

To quote Tom Lehrer, "When correctly viewed, everything is lewd." However, Allen's got it all wrong.

<sarcasm>Clearly</sarcasm>, Elmer Fudd, who was always sticking his gun in the wrong hole, wouldn't be likely to get anyone pregnant. He's a closeted homosexual who is angered to find that when he's finally aroused by what he believes to be a woman, it again turns out to be a man.

The transvestite ends up dead (despite patiently waiting for the hero to get it up [the stairs]) because this whole sad scene has been played out before in "The Rabbit of Seville" and Fudd, embarrassed by not being able to perform, can not bear the idea of being dumped again, so this time he dumps his "bride." Permanently.

Oh, and Chuck Jones had an unhealthy erotic attraction (unlike my healthy one) to woodland animals.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 7:47 PM on March 18, 2008 [3 favorites]

Meh. Sometimes a man with a magic helmet thrusting his spear into a hole is nothing more than a man with a magic helmet thrusting his spear into a hole.
posted by The World Famous at 7:48 PM on March 18, 2008 [5 favorites]

...that Bugs Bunny cartoon was designed to... destroy awesomize the Wagnerian experience.

Fixed that for you.
posted by rokusan at 8:06 PM on March 18, 2008

Am I the only Bugs Bunny fan / cartoon buff / general lover of ephemera who doesn't think What's Opera, Doc? is a particularly good cartoon at all, much less a particularly good Bugs Bunny cartoon?

The artwork is flat and boring compared to earlier cartoons. The characterization is one-dimensional and not grounded in any cartoon "reality". Why is this one always treated as a classic of the cartoon genre, when I can't see why it is any different from any of the interchangeable late-period Bugs Bunny cartoons?
posted by yhbc at 8:21 PM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

I don't think it's bad, per se. Wasn't it made as a response to Disney's Fantasia? Updating classical music to modern imagery? Maybe it's because I was exposed to this so early and often, I do feel like it's spoiled the music for me -- just like MTV pretty much ruined every song they put a video to. It robs me of my own imagination. And every time I hear the tune from the opera, I can't help but hear in my head "Oh, Bwoonhilda! You're so wovvwey!"

According to Wiki, in 1994, it was voted #1 of the 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time by 1000 members of the animation field. I'm a little shocked to find that out. I guess it's kind of like Citizen Kane. Everyone loves it, but hardly anyone likes it.
posted by Dave Faris at 8:34 PM on March 18, 2008

I met Chuck Jones when I was a kid in an animation class, and he talked about "What's Opera, Doc?".

Granted, he was talking to a room full of 12 year olds, but he said he loved opera, and seemed to be the only one who saw the parallels between what he did in cartoons, and these grand, dramatic operas. So he did "What's Opera, Doc?" partly to prove it, and partly to irritate his bosses at Warner, which he loved to do. He didn't have his guys spend a lot of time on it, and he was nervous it was going to be a dud (his words), but now that it's a classic, he said he was happy to tell everyone he always knew it would be.

Off the subject, he told us his team was in a room way at the end of a long hallway on the Warner lot. They set up the receptionist with a button that turned on a red light in their room. When the studio bosses visited, she'd push the button, warning the animators, who would promptly hide everything they were working on. The bosses would come in and universally find a room full of people just sitting around, sleeping, chit-chatting, etc. Drove them crazy.

Chuck also told a story about a soda machine that was notorious for being riddled with ants. One day he saw some men taking the machine away. He promptly wrote out a card and left it at the scene. It said, "Today the soda machine. Tomorrow the world! -The Ants"

Great, great guy.
posted by JWright at 9:04 PM on March 18, 2008 [7 favorites]

Two things...

1) I don't think this blog entry was meant to be taken as seriously as some of you are taking it. Indeed, I think he writes it with tongue planted firmly in cheek. I had a good laugh.

2) I love "What's Opera, Doc." I think it does exactly what Chuck Jones hoped it would do (at least in terms of what JWright reports). The Bugs Bunny cartoons were, more than almost any cartoons, part of a theatre tradition that was built around character archetypes. "What's Opera, Doc?" brings that to the surface and includes some awesome sing along moments. Furthermore, if you watch it with the thought that this is Bugs and Elmer playing characters - and not Bugs and Elmer acting out their regular hunting business - it makes a little more sense.

Thanks for the amusing post!
posted by Joey Michaels at 9:31 PM on March 18, 2008

Dave Faris grumped:
"b) destroy the Wagnerian experience for 2 or 3 generations"

Not here, and I can confirm for at least five other people: our appreciation for Wagner & other incredible artists in our non-opera-listening homes was created by Bugs.

A silly version when young goes far to create an interest in the serious version when older, we've found.
posted by batmonkey at 6:50 AM on March 19, 2008

Well, you have no reasonable way of knowing whether that cartoon guided you to a deeper appreciation of Wagnerian opera, do you? I mean, yes, you saw it, so you figure it had an impact, but had you not seen it, you might have found another avenue to it ... one that didn't involve lyrics from a bald man with a speech impediment.
posted by Dave Faris at 7:34 AM on March 19, 2008

And, yet, I found it at a tender young age and began asking "whither Opera, dear hippy parents?!?"

Opera was soon procured for me, and I was a happy monkey.

Possibilities being what they are, I was given more exposure to opera and classical music via cartoons than any other way. I'm just glad it sparked curiosity in me instead of bitter recrimination.
posted by batmonkey at 8:44 AM on March 19, 2008

No, not Jones's best cartoon -- but there isn't a Chuck Jones cartoon that fledgling animators can't learn from. And this one has some classic moments. Still, for me, it's Bugs and Daffy every time...

Daffy: "Shoot him! Shoot him now!"
Bugs: "You keep quiet. He doesn't have to shoot you now."
Daffy: "Yes he does! Shoot me now! I demand that you shoot me now!"
Elmer: BANG!
Daffy: "Let's... go over that again, shall we?"
Bugs: "Okay."
Daffy: "Shoot him, shoot him now."
Bugs: "You keep quiet, he doesn't have to shoot you now."
Daffy: "Aha! Pronoun trouble!"

This just cracks me up every time.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 9:56 AM on March 19, 2008

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