Animusings

Thoughts on storytelling and the world of animation. Caution! SPOILERS!

Blog #9 – who am I supposed to root for again?

So I got to Warner Brothers in the book, and all of my classic hero vs villain theories and ideas came to a screeching halt.

Roadrunner.  Coyote.  Pepe Le Pew.  Sylvester.  Tweety.  Bugs.  Elmer. Tom.  Jerry.  (I know they’re not Warner, but they fall into this category.)  Who’s the hero? Who’s the villain?  Who am I supposed to be cheering for?  I can’t decide!

The visuals give me no clues.  None of them are scary looking, like the  catrobot in 9, or the wicked witch in Snow White.  The music doesn’t help, either.  No dark, dramatic audio cues to give me a hint.  They barely even talk, so no evil cackles or discussions of dastardly deeds  being plotted.

Should I root for the smaller character, on the basis that he’s technically thought to be weaker?  Should I root for the one who runs away first?  Should I prefer my favorite animal?  I mean, really, outside of animation, which would you rather have curl up on your lap, a cat or a mouse?  Should I consider the pursuit of love a worthier catch than trying to get away from a smelly animal who doesn’t know/can’t help it?  Should I sympathize with the silly rabbit who really just wants a bowl of cereal?  What’s wrong with sharing ONE BOWL OF CEREAL, KIDS???

Ahem.

I watched a lot of these cartoons growing up.  I rooted for Jerry and Roadrunner, because they were the ones being chased by their natural predators.  Looking back, though, Wile. E. Coyote was a genius with an unlimited budget who was just testing various methods of roadrunner catching, trying to find a method that worked.  He rarely tried the same thing twice.  AND he was frequently taunted by his prey, which is a bit unsportsmanlike.   Jerry gave as good as he got from Tom, the two were equally matched in wits.  Bugs Bunny was the prey, but Elmer was no match for him at all!  These are not battles of good and evil, they’re just sporting events, and we have to pick a team.  We don’t have to worry about death or destruction when we see these characters, as we know they’ll pop right back up unharmed at the end.

I didn’t know what to make of Pepe.  I felt sorry for him, certainly.  He was dense, but lovable, and just a bit smelly.  He couldn’t help it.  He wanted snugglies, not a snack.

I also remember the first time I realized just how old these cartoons were.  I was shocked!  I admit I’m rather oblivious to what’s going on around me, but they’ve stood the test of time pretty well.  Although I did pick up a bit of the vocabulary, and STILL tell people, “Don’t go in there!  It’s DARK!”

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5 thoughts on “Blog #9 – who am I supposed to root for again?

  1. I feel like what makes it really hard to figure out who to root for is the fact that there are some episodes where who you think is the evil one, ie Tom, is sympathized by the good guy, ie Jerry. I also think we cheer for characters like Jerry, the Roadrunner, and Bugs since we want to root for the winner or smarter character! Although, thats debate-able I thought I’d put the idea out there. But again, my first point, its hard to “root” for anyone when Tom falls off a building and freezes in the snow and Jerry rushes down to save, thaw and care for Tom as he is healing or even episodes when Tom feels guilt and saves Jerry from doom. Also, I’ve never viewed Porky Pig as necessarily the bad guy and yet in “a Corny Concerto” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tG2CJDcWjH8, he is the one hunting Bugs who has done nothing wrong. He should be the bad guy here and yet he feels guilt when he may have killed the poor rabbit.
    You’re absolutely right, there is no ultimate battle, just episodes of the silly adventures of these characters to get a laugh out of the audience, which it most certainly does. The fact that there is no clear cut side picking option makes it even more fun though when the roles reverse!

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  3. cruiz89 on said:

    It’s clear for a majority of the audience to root for the underdog, which would be the Roadrunner, Jerry, and Bugs because they are all being chased by their “natural predator.” However, I can see where you can take a different perspective on who is evil or good and make an argument for that. I think this allows the audience to make their own decisions and root for who they like. This also inevitably makes each character likeable instead of hated like the Evil Witch of Snow White.

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  5. Kendra Prasad on said:

    It is interesting that you brought up this point, as I just wrote on Bugs Bunny, and I really started thinking about the question you brought up. I couldn’t really address who was the bad guy and who was the good guy while writing my blog. Warner Bros really makes this a difficult distinction. However, I think it is kind of nice. We are given more freedom to decide which character to support and root for. Both usually have some cute/good qualities and both also usually have some annoying/bad qualities. Since people are full of both good and bad qualities, it also makes the characters more humanlike, which can be nice at times. There are times, while watching an animation, that we really don’t want to think, and would like all the decisions to be made up for us. These are probably the times when Warner Bros cartoons are not the best choice.

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