Rethinking the rabbit: revolution, identity and connection in Looney Tunes

Batkin, Jane (2014) Rethinking the rabbit: revolution, identity and connection in Looney Tunes. In: Society of Animation Studies Conference, 'The Animator', Toronto, 16-19 June 2014, Toronto.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Paper)
Item Status:Live Archive


The Looney Tunes stable is renowned for its slapstick violence and screwball comedy, brought to life by the talented inhabitants of Termite Terrace. A familiar stage is created, upon which Bugs, Daffy and Porky interact, and where wit and despair flourish in equal measures. However, there is more to Looney Tunes than the 'controlled lunacy' (Sandler 1998) associated with it. Beneath the wackiness, there is revolution and connection, in which the fourth wall of film is battered and broken down and the characters literally break out of their asylum.

In Duck Amuck (1953) Daffy tears the fourth wall to shreds and stamps on it in a rage. At first bewildered by the inexplicable scenery changes, he subsequently realises that his world is a fiction. In this ground breaking cartoon, a strong and significant connection is created with the audience. As Daffy struggles to discover where the boundaries lie and who is in control, the resolution reveals it to be Bugs, stepping over the abyss from film to reality and showing us essentially why Looney Tunes matter.

Revered icon, Bugs is an enigma. His relationship with Elmer is both complicated and, at times, arguably sadomasochistic. In the seminal What's Opera Doc? (1957) Bugs indulges in a little gender reversal to win over his adversary, only to find himself undone by Elmer's rage at having his masculinity challenged. This text is more than just parody of Disney's Fantasia (1940). It is revolutionary. By crossing genres it reveals character emotions we hadn't expected and, as Elmer turns to us and sobs 'I killed the rabbit', a connection is made through the ingenious reimagining of their relationship. At the beating heart of Looney Tunes lies Revolution, Identity and Connection.

Keywords:Identity, Revolution, Animation
Subjects:W Creative Arts and Design > W615 Animation Techniques
Divisions:College of Arts > Lincoln School of Film & Media > Lincoln School of Film & Media (Media)
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ID Code:16890
Deposited On:08 Mar 2015 13:39

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