Rabbit Seasoning

Film Review by Dean Duncan May 31, 2015

These Bugs/Daffy (Sam, Sylvester, etc.) conflicts bring to mind Bruno Bettelheim’s point about character bifurcations in Hansel and Gretel, etc. He says that both characters represent different components of the same child: willful, selfish, unreasonable, even malicious; antic, infinitely resourceful and, like the classic fairy tale hero, ever victorious. With that in mind, what do we make of the sameness of these situations? Not just hunting wabbits, but Roadrunner/Coyotes, Tweety, Tom and Jerry, etc. It’s obviously part product standardization, designed both for efficient manufacture and marketing of the films. There’s also a craftsman idea: basic themes, and infinite, resourceful, delightful variations thereon. The gag is still, always, all. (Yay-uss? “Still lurking about!”) But there’s real psychological truth, real developmental resonance as well. Bugs and Daffy, ever and always.

The violence and malice (is it malice?) here are really quite crazily exaggerated. It’s doubtless unintentional, but all these shootings really summon something. They seem to articulate a child’s natural, partial hostility and aggression, as well as his simultaneous vulnerability. These ingredients are mixed and remixed, recklessly and healthily, until they become familiar. A lesson comes through, if you look for it. The hard world is will remain hard, but if it can’t quite be vanquished, then it can at least be tolerated, and maybe even more.

These three Bugs/Daffy/Elmer films are pretty similar! (Cf. Rio Bravo, El Dorado, Rio Lobo…) What do we make of that? Well, we might consider these rabbit hunting films as part of an absurdist cycle, their plots as manifestations of an absurdist circle. (The plot doesn’t diagram as rising action that leads to a protagonist accomplishing her objective, but rather as a frustratingly, endlessly spinning wheel…) If you really concentrate and cross-reference, they replicate life’s patterns, with all of their frequent indignity and occasional transcendence. Again, be it Bettelheim or Beckett, these often disputed movies—I guess they are a tad violent, if you want to look at them that way—can actually teach you something!

Further and finally, Bugs in drag nicely represents the all-bets-off implications of chaotic cartoons, as well as being a marvelous reproach or reproval of the wolf whistle mentality.