Mar 312002
 
Authors:

When I sit back and reflect upon my childhood, I’m a bit surprised that it never occurred to me to try and flatten my third-grade teacher, Mrs. Beaumont, with an anvil dropped from a fourth-story window. A daily dosage of Warner Bros.’ “Looney Tunes” was a significant staple of my television diet, and if I was as impressionable as today’s child psychologists seem to maintain, then it’s something of a mystery that I never slipped anyone a disguised stick of dynamite or plugged the barrel of a rifle with my index finger.

Interestingly enough, a little bit of controversy concerning the often questionable content of “Looney Tunes” is surfacing today, years after the cartoon series’ heyday. A massive e-mail and Internet campaign is being leveled against the Cartoon Network in the hopes that Speedy Gonzales /_” a rodent touted as “the fastest mouse in all of Mexico” /_” will be reinstated in the network’s day and prime time programming.

It turns out that Speedy has been missing from the network for more than two years /_” not because “el gringo pussygato” finally succeeded in catching him, but rather because network executives feared that the character might offend Mexican-Americans and/or instill an ignorant ethnic stereotype in the supposedly feeble minds of young viewers.

The problem isn’t necessarily with Speedy, but rather his amigos /_” a shabby collection of lazy, stupid and drunken mice who supposedly represent negative stereotypes Americans have about our friends south of the border. The problem with this argument is that it overlooks the character of Speedy, who shatters the stereotype by being vivacious, hardworking, courageous and clever. While I’ll admit that he’s something of a ladies’ mouse (some might argue womanizer), clearly Speedy’s centrality in the cartoon serves to undermine faulty and erroneous misconceptions American viewers might have against the Mexican people.

Furthermore, Speedy seems to be embraced among much of the Spanish-speaking world. According to a recent Fox News interview with a Cartoon Network spokesperson, Speedy is “hugely popular” – and currently uncensored – on the Spanish-speaking sister station, Cartoon Network Latin America. And, if the message board for HispanicOnline.com is any indication, the effort to phase out Speedy Gonzales is widely seen as an attack on Latino culture.

Regardless, the inevitable extermination of Speedy Gonzales strikes me as a death knell for Looney Tunes altogether. The following list is my prediction as to which characters will be slowly phased out next, and the politically correct rationale for doing so.

Pepe LePew: instills negative stereotypes about the French while encouraging young boys to repeatedly harass and stalk unwilling females.

Marvin the Martian: encourages children to use an Illudium Pu-36 Space Modulator in order to blow up the planet with an earth-shattering ka-boom.

The Stork: as if flying and working while inebriated weren’t deplorable enough, his very existence spreads misinformation about important issues like sexuality.

Wile E. Coyote: suggests that it’s acceptable to destroy pristine rock formations in the desert instead of preserving these natural monuments for future generations.

Elmer Fudd: who is this guy? Some kind of poster child for the NRA? Plus his speech difficulties might be construed as a slur against those who struggle valiantly against such a debilitating impediment (ditto for serial stutterers Porky Pig and Foghorn Leghorn).

Yosemite Sam: a few of his cartoons suggest that after 150 years, it’s OK to start making light of Confederates and their ugly role in America’s tarnished history.

Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck: Rabbit Season and Duck Season are kept separate for a reason. By blurring the distinction, these two characters undermine the importance of concepts such as population control and ecosystem balance.

Jon Watkins is a senior majoring in English.

 Posted by at 6:00 pm

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