Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Pat Sejak of Cartoon Characters

Commentary publishes something I can unreservedly endorse:
For decades, comedy writers have puzzled over a mystery: Why is Mickey Mouse more famous than Bugs Bunny? Mickey isn’t funny or interesting. He cannot produce an anvil or a Carmen Miranda hat out of the air. All in all, his “good mouse” act is a toothless, nice-guy bore.
But Bugs, on the other hand, can do accents, knows how to use basic weaponry, and looks terrific in drag. He’s a gender-bending gun nut who makes gleeful and hurtful fun of people with disabilities (Elmer Fudd—speech impediment). About the only respectable thing about him, from the perspective of the academic and cultural policemen, is that he appears to be a vegan.
Why indeed.  The propounder (Rob Long)  never quite answers his own question, but at the risk of being tedious, I offer a thought: it's the same reason why the most boring  characters on TV have the greatest staying power: Perry Como, Alex Trebek, Pat Sejak, Regis Philbin.  We like in-your-face but we  want something quiet and reassuring to come home to.  


fatbear said...

From someone who spent more decades than he cares to remember as a carton producer, exec producer and anim studio exec, let me give you a little insight:

First, no one I know ever puzzled over the question you pose - it is what we call a "Skippie question" along the lines of such queries as which Superman was best drawn, were Batman & Robin an item, and just why did Peyo allow Smurfette

Mickey was the "killer app" of his day - born in 1928, he was the first great success of sound motion pictures - he became world famous and established Walt as THE guy in cartoons - all others who came after both Walt and Mickey would be judged only in their shadows

Bugs otoh was born in 1938, 1939 or 1940, depending on which rabbit you're talking about - by then all the great advances in 2D animation were history (cels, singles, color, multi-plane, use of weight, etc.) and cartoon animals were dime-a-dozen - hell, even Daffy came before - Bugs was not a "killer app" and his "wise guy" popularity faded after WWII - by the 50's he was on his way down the hole, but was saved by Sat AM TV - even then, by the time I was in the biz he was really only a repeat in a non-prime time ghetto

btw, Bugs is my fav of the two - I even have a few vintage toys that I got back when Bugs was somewhat forgotten - packed away now, but not subject to she-who-shall-be-obeyed's "clean out this junk" manifesto

fatbear said...

And here's another reason - this is Bugs version 92 or so - the new one, coming to a TV near you May 3 - pathetic - watch the Reunion or (the first part of) Krypton - actually pathetic is too kind


PirateLaddie said...

There's more to this. It's a reflection on the core American psyche. Despite all the "lone cowboy" and "strong silent type" self-images that dominate or mass culture, we're really a nation of wusses. Look at how the Euro-on-the-street responded to the unfolding economic crisis & reflect on how the 'murican peepuls chosen to kick around those further down the food-chain.
No sense of national solidarity here, just "Excuse me, Mr. MoneyBags, you noticed how I kicked that beggar away from your car, didn't you."
Mickey is the American everyman, knocked down, he giggles & picks himself up -- no hint of vengance or even justice. Me, I'll take Donald Duck; if not him, then Bugs.

fatbear said...

One final note - toon industry feedback on the New Looney Toons - notice the first comment from the author