Archive for the ‘cartoons’ category

Does Pepe Le Pew Stink?

March 10, 2021

(Warning:  some adult themes in the following post, albeit about a cartoon character…)

Striped skunk Pepe Le Pew has been kicking around as a Warner Bros. character since 1945, but to some this skunk is a male chauvinist pig and sexual predator.  With some saying that the amorous skunk normalizes rape culture, Pepe has been dropped from the sequel to Space Jam, and won’t be appearing in further Warner Bros. productions for the foreseeable future – – Sacre bleu!

Now this skunk was a one-trick pony, so to speak,  portrayed as a french character complete with accent who fancies himself highly desirable, whereas his skunk scent and unwanted advances made him in reality abhorrent to the object of his affections, usually one Penelope Pussycat, who was originally nameless.  In his classic routines, Pepe would be easily deceived into thinking that the black and white feline was another skunk once she wound up with a streak of white paint down her back.  Penelope would vigorously resist the skunk’s unwanted advances and attempt to flee from him, but Pepe could easily keep pace with her with a kind of bouncing hop classic to himself; he was truly “high on a feeling.” There were variations to this formula, but Pepe seldom abandoned his arguably predatory pursuit.

 

Herein lies the rub, and Pepe’s conflict with contemporary societal norms.  To the skunk, no never meant no, but resistance was all part of the game, and represented normal behavior.  It was alright for Pepe in his own mindset to persist in his unwanted aggressive physical advances, because the female was simply playing “hard to get,”  and her resistance was adorable, appealingly cute, and even amusing.  Hence, the accusations that Pepe was normalizing rape culture.  He simply grabbed poor Penelope, and tried to foist himself on her.  Fortunately, we never saw any skunk/kitty domination porn out of it, although in some dark corners of the internet you could probably find it.  Trust me on this; I’m a furry…

There was a bit more to the character as well, playing upon the stereotype that all Frenchmen were great lovers, whether they actually were or not.  Pepe certainly thought that he was, and his narcissism lent a bit of comic irony, which was part of the running shtick of the character.  He was also a skunk, and they don’t smell like roses!  Whether blinded by love or lust, Pepe in most of his cartoon outings failed to recognize that Penelope was of a different species entirely, so you had that comic misidentification  going on, a “love is blind” kinda thing.  Pepe was at core sexually frustrated in spite of his personal perspective that he was at least potentially some kind of love god, a hot item “on the make.”  He never prevailed, but he was certainly persistent, to a flaw. This is no longer considered a virtue as it once perhaps was, but now is rather a red flag of inappropriate behavior.  Pepe might today face charges for his conduct were Penelope of a litigious mind; watch out for a kitten who isn’t smitten!  Perhaps Foghorn Leghorn could defend Pepe in court…“The boy, I say, the boy was just doin’ what comes naturally, and after all, he’s French…”  

This unwanted persistence of male suitors played well generations ago at the general time of his origin, and Pepe Le Pew was certainly not the only character guilty of it.  For example, Dean Martin’s seasonal song, “Baby It’s Cold Outside” has also been largely dropped from favored Xmas song playlists for just the same reason as kind of an anthem of date rape. There’s a fine line between seductively sexy and creepy these days, and what was once constituted as “boys being boys” doesn’t fly well any more; just ask any number of disgraced pervy politicians, although charges stick much better to some than others, ahem! 

I’m kind of glad that Warner Bros. is dropping Pepe Le Pew rather than trying to reform him; it just wouldn’t be the same, and our skunk is after all incorrigible, a self-deceived romantic rogue whose essence would be destroyed by being sanitized.  While Pepe was a product of his time and that time is now past, I’m going to miss the lovestruck rascal even if he is politically incorrect by today’s standards…this skunk was such a dog, if you’ll pardon the mixed metaphor, a slick if clueless anachronism and stereotype, the “locksmith of love” in love with love and himself.  The path of true love, so they say, seldom runs smooth, although hope springs eternal even while the “game of love” may for some have a baffling rule book.  As Pepe might say, “You know, it is possible to be too attractive.”  He may have been delusional, but he didn’t suffer from self-concept problems…

 


Dr. Seuss Books in Racist Row…

March 3, 2021


Six Dr. Seuss books will no longer be published owing to racist images and references within them, specifically in regards to black and Asian people.  Not to excuse or condone such things, but they were common stereotypes of the time, and I did grow up with them while never becoming a white supremacist.  I far preferred the surreal iconoclasm of Dr. Seuss to the exclusive vanilla wholesomeness of the Dick and Jane readers, plus he drew awesome anthropomorphic animals!

Objectionable racist portrayals in kiddie lit and entertainment of the time were not by any means restricted to Dr. Seuss.  Consider Elmer Fudd as a ludicrous Native American in Hiawatha’s Rabbit Hunt.  Remember Disney’s Song of the South.  Visit the 1961 Dick Tracy cartoon series for stereotyped crime fighters Joe Jitsu and Go Go Gomez.  These are but a few examples, to be sure.

The discontinued Dr. Seuss titles are but a few books among many that do not have objectionable content, and generally are among his lesser-known works.  Dr. Seuss got a lot of kids reading, and eagerly so.  His art had furry roots, and could be quite thematic while wildly entertaining.   It largely holds up well today.  While Theodor Geisel was a product of his times as are we all, he was a pretty cool dude whose legacy remains a good one.

And all I know is that I’m keeping and cherishing my Fox in Socks book forever, even if the fox does appear to have some kind of strange unknown disease or genetic affliction…

 

 

 

Andrew Marlton, “First Dog on the Moon”

October 3, 2020

  

Andrew Marlton (above) is a satirical cartoonist and more who draws for the Australian-based news publication, The Guardian.  Under his pseudonym First Dog on the Moon he has generated a universe of anthropomorphic cartoon characters that include Brenda the Civil Disobedience Penguin, the Interpretive Dance Bandicoot, and my personal faves, the Raccoons of the Resistance.  As he deals in many things political, there are themes and presentations in his cartoons that are certain to offend someone, which is perhaps as it should be.  As some of his work deals with Australian politics, it will likely pass over the heads of many if not most Americans, but  Marlton also deals with aspects of American politics through his characters, as well as global issues involving science, the Coronavirus, and the environment.  

 

It’s furry art, and can often be topically relevant and wickedly funny.  Marlton gets his ideas from the news, at other times relating that he goes out to talk to chickens and sheep.  Do give First Dog on the Moon a look…laughing and thinking are always worthwhile activities!

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Livin’ Off The Plastic…

April 25, 2020



The other day I went to a drive-up window to buy a lousy $4 ice cream, since in the year of the plague, walk-in much less full restaurant service are but memories.  Reaching the front of the line, I discovered to my chagrin that the establishment wasn’t accepting cash, but only credit or debit cards.  Cash, it would seem, is now considered a “contact point” for the Coronavirus, which can live merrily on a variety of surfaces for hours.

As I fumbled awkwardly for my debit card out of my wallet, the thought surfaced in my mind that these must be terrible times to be Scrooge McDuck.  I mean, that bird would literally go swimming through his cash vaults!  He had, by a Forbes estimate, a net cash worth of over 44 billion dollars. Swimming and burrowing through his money brought this duck pleasure!  He was, by the standards of many, one lucky duck…

Now in these plague years, could Scrooge be considered to have a fatal attraction to money, considering his physicality with it?  With money being considered filthy lucre, does Scrooge McDuck have a death wish, or is he just severely conflicted now about his practices?  Is an intervention needed to save this duck from himself?!  These thoughts eat away at me, terribly.  We may never know the answer to these timely questions, but press on nonetheless.  It is our calling, our mission here… 🐺

 

Of Octopus Farms and Anthropomorphic Octopi…

January 2, 2020


Scientists warn that octopus farms may not be a great idea despite the fondness of some people for eating them.  This is to say nothing of the fact that an octopus farm sounds like a recurrent theme in a Gary Larson Far Side cartoon.  For one thing, octopuses are carnivorous, eat a lot, and are intelligent. They can figure out how to open jars, recognize individual humans, and identify puzzles that they’ve seen before.  They also can become bored, and toys are sometimes put into aquariums for them to provide cognitive stimulation.  They can even learn how to escape their containment facilities, possibly in search of video gaming systems.  

As fishing for octopuses yields a variable and unreliable supply, efforts to farm them have been made that include dabbling in genetic modifications of the creatures.  Now I, for one, don’t want to have to deal with roving mobs of bored, carnivorous, genetically-modified octopi that have escaped their farm aquariums, although this appears to be a promising premise for a Syfy Channel movie.

One might even become concerned about the plight of Hanna-Barbera’s 1960’s character Squiddly Diddly becoming frustrated in his musical aspirations, and escaping the confines of his aquatic park to take the musical and entertainment worlds by storm. Despite his name, the character was essentially an octopus, and might indulge his carnivorous nature on us if we failed to give him a listen…

 

The Legacy of Foxy Fagan…

November 29, 2019



In the mid-1940’s, the funny animal cartoon boom was in full swing, and every publisher wanted a menagerie of such anthropomorphic characters in print.  Foxy Fagan  was an obscure, Golden Age comic book character who was commercially unsuccessful, running for only a brief seven issues from 1946 to 1948.  Furthermore, the drawn character had a disquieting resemblance in some panels to Tom of Tom and Jerry fame, almost as if he was a cat with a few fox features tacked on.  The feet were also terribly wrong for a fox, but were drawn in the cartoon style of the day…

If the late great Foxy Fagan resembles the much more successful feline Tom, that’s because he was drawn by Harvey Eisenberg in collaboration with Joe Barbera’s storylines in a low budget, moonlighting-type operation called Dearfield Publishing which operated out of a shed while both of them were under contract to MGM.  Dearfield also produced Red Rabbit comics.  Eisenberg was a highly experienced and admired cartoonist who was for many years the main artist on the Tom and Jerry comic books, and he also did numerous stories for Disney comic books featuring Chip ‘n’ Dale, also drawing on the Yogi Bear and Flintstones newspaper comics.  He could draw characters convincingly in any pose, and gave them expressive personalities, making them relatable and alive.

Now Foxy Fagan was cut in the Bugs Bunny mold, with Foxy being sly but trouble-prone, and things often didn’t work out as he planned.  His foil was a hapless canine inventor, Bobble, who bore a striking resemblance to the later Hanna-Barbera character Droopy Dog, and kind of played the Porky Pig role.  We can almost see Foxy morphing into Tom in this bottom image, and Tom and Jerry would become an enduring part of cartoon history…

 

 

 

Movie Night with Casper the Friendly Ghost…

October 21, 2019

I’m not a big fan of Casper the Friendly Ghost.  It’s not that I have anything against him, it’s just that I prefer my ghosts to be scary if not outright terrifying.  Casper may be friendly, but I find that annoying, and so he is to me in this Geico commercial, in which young couple Kurt and Jill are preparing to enjoy a movie in the living room of their new house…

“I can’t believe it,” says Jill.  “You can’t believe that our house is haunted by ‘Casper the Friendly Ghost?,'” replies Kurt.  At that moment, Casper enters the scene, cheerily greets the couple, notices the movie, and enthusiastically invites himself to go get some snacks.  He then returns with popcorn, announces the other varieties of it that are available, and sits or hovers there on the sofa back between them, stuffing his face and making a pig of himself.  Jill then clarifies herself to say that she can’t believe how much money they’ve saved on their car insurance with Geico.

Perhaps the couple could invest some of those savings to hire Ghostbusters to get rid of this pest, who even chews loudly.  This ghost is a milquetoast, not a proper haunt, and his cuteness gets cloying very quickly…

 

The Mintmobile Fox…

September 30, 2018

 

Who’s green and keen? — The Mintmobile Fox, of course!  Now normally when foxes turn green, it’s not a good thing, of course, and may signify severe gastrointestinal distress.  It all right for this little guy, however, ’cause he’s just a ‘toon, but one who we can see appearing in a wide variety of settings, beginning with his bed and ranging to such diverse environments as a supermarket and gymnasium.  This fox meditates…he rides in cars conversing with women…and looks ever so cool motoring in his own sweet ride.  He’s an inspiration to all of us of the vulpine persuasion…

The Mintmobile Fox is a mascot or spokesman for a wireless internet service, and that’s all right.  What’s not all right, as he’ll tell and show you, are such things as finger dipping and carpet showers.  We are then witness to such things as people at a gathering plunging their fingers into bowls of dip, and a guy showering in a stall layered in carpet.  I, for one, do not wish to be party to such things, nor would any sensible fox.

This bright-eyed and perky little guy even wears eyeglasses, or when the occasion calls for it, shades.  Catch his act for Mintmobile on commercials, although a cartoon series spin-off would be great…

The Gecko Meets Rocky and Bullwinkle…

June 16, 2014


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Rocky and Bullwinkle have had a cult following since the 1960’s, falling into lean times until a big-screen movie treatment brought a modest revival of sorts.  Geico has occasionally honored classic ‘toon heroes in their commercials, including the great Wile E. Coyote.  While neither Rocky nor Bullwinkle can aspire to the lofty title of genius rightfully bestowed on the Coyote, it’s still good to see them occasionally getting out and about in public. This was the case in a recent Geico commercial where we first see the omnipresent Gecko in the Rocky Mountains, reflecting on the enduring qualities of both the Rockies and his insurance company employer.

Enter the irrepressible Bullwinkle Moose, long a fountain of misinformation.  Now the Moose and Squirrel have been the embodiment of randomness long before it became mainstream, and when the Gecko speculates about whom the Rockies were named after, Bullwinkle J. Moose appears out of nowhere, and unasked ventures that they were named after his friend and constant companion, Rocky the Flying Squirrel. Rocky himself then flies in, balancing endearingly on the Moose’s palm.  Rocky tries to correct Bullwinkle, who then shifts to an explanation that the Rockies were named after “First President George Rockington.”

“That doesn’t even make sense,” correctly observes the Gecko at this point, referring to Bullwinkle as, “Mr. Winkle.”  Apparently recognizing that logic is wasted on Bullwinkle, Rocky executes multiple dramatic flying loops around his friend, and flies off.  The whole commercial doesn’t make a lot of sense, but such was the general nature of the sixties show about the best-known residents of Frostbite Falls

Mr.Peabody & Sherman…

February 8, 2014

Peabody– – I suppose that I shouldn’t be surprised that a movie is being made of Mr. Peabody & Sherman, since movies and sequels have been made of The Smurfs and The Chipmunks.  If there’s a chance that parents are familiar with the original subject, a movie treatment serves to introduce children to the character, and film makers hope that a profitable franchise is born.  

Now The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show was a gem in the 1960’s, and has already been subjected to a movie treatment.  Besides introducing us to Rocket J. Squirrel and Bullwinkle Moose, the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show had other unrelated ‘toon features that included Dudley Do-Right and Peabody’s Improbable History segments.  Mr. Peabody was a talking, bespectacled, intellectual white dog who in a role reversal had an adopted boy, Sherman.  Through use of a time machine, Peabody and Sherman would travel back in time in episodes to encounter memorable historical figures, teaching Sherman of their significance and at times benevolently influencing the turn of events.  

Based on these memorable offbeat characters, Mr. Peabody & Sherman is an American 3D computer-animated adventure-comedy produced by DreamWorks Animation, and involves Sherman’s misuse of the WABAC time machine with subsequent efforts by Peabody and Sherman to put things back on track before the space-time continuum is destroyed, a problem common in science fiction.  As with the original shorts, the film is described as sweet-natured and amusing, with enough witty touches to keep adults entertained as well.  In theaters March 7th…