Many of you who are over the age of twenty remember Saturday mornings. Grabbing your box of favorite cereal, a gallon of milk, the TV remote, and sitting down to watch anthropomorphic creatures beat the living shit out of each other.
Just The Facts
- Cartoon violence is most assoiceated with the 6 minute 'Before-the-movie' style animations of Chuck Jones and Tex Avery.
- There has been a noticeable decline of cartoon violence since 2001.
- A cause for #2 could be the public outcry from overconcerned soccer moms, accusing cartoons of "warping their children's minds".
- In the world of cartoon physics, there are no hospital bills, no scars, no dismemberment, and, most importantly, no hangovers.
How it all started...
Do understand cartoon violence is to understand cartoon physics and if you need real-life comparison to where cartoon physics came from, you need look no further than the era of vaudville. Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy, the Marx Brothers, the Three Stooges, and Abbot and Costello are the progenitors of cartoon violence.
Those men were masters at stretching the limits of slapstick but they are of course still human. With cartoons on the other hand, you're not bound by the restrictions of human abilities. You can do anything. By emphasizing slapstick humor and burlesque ideals to the nth degree, you create cartoon violence.
Because of these guys...
...cartoons can survive this.
It was an animator at Walt Disney Studios that said, "Animation follows the laws of physics... unless it's funnier otherwise."
Pictured above: Comedy gold
Chuck Jones and Tex Avery, Masters of the Universe
Lord and Master of Cartoon Physics, Chuck Jones
Chuck Jones was one of the chief animators, writers, producers, and directors for Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies. In 1962, he started his own production company which began to produce cartoons for MGM, including a new series called Tom and Jerry. If you have a love of cartoons and any common sense at all, you will worship this man for the god that he is. He was responsible for countless hours of family entertainment, and brought many together over the ideal that our differences could be solved through physical abuse rather than actual diplomacy. He also taught us that no matter how smart and slick you thought you were, you were no match for a streetwise rabbit.
Pictured above: How Bugs Bunny dealt with people who ran their mouth
Creator of Legends, Tex Avery
Tex Avery is responsible for the creation of Droopy Dog, Daffy Duck, and, most importantly, Bugs Bunny. In addition, before the concept of animating tentacle rape was put into action, Tex Avery was responsible for creating cartoons that young men had their first wet dreams about.
We rest our case.
When it came to style, Tex Avery would be what many people would consider "politically incorrect," or what some others might consider "Totally racist." He aimed for racial stereotypes in his cartoons like they were going out of style. And, to be fair, they were. Take a look here for an example of Tex Avery's most notable work, and a cartoon which has been preserved in the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress.
But cartoon racism is for a different article, (which we also wrote). This is about violence.
Cartoon Physics (and Violence) Today
As the result of countless ground teeth from the people who were convinced that Doom and Ren and Stimpy were responsible for the Columbine shootings, cartoon violence has drastically declined in the television that most children have access to. Gone are the days when the Looney Tunes played every day. Gone are the days when Cartoon Network featured a solid multiple hour block of MGM cartoons every Saturday morning.
Removing violence from cartoons was the first step on a slippery slope. Once the violence disappeared, Moms needed something new to complain about, so cartoons were too rude, or too loud, or not inclusive enough, or not politically correct enough. This led to fundamental changes in the nature of new cartoons and the cartoon cannon split into two factions to deal with these changes. On one end, cartoon creators, their hands tied too tightly by PC restrictions, made a bunch of brightly-colored incomprehensible shape monsters to parade in front of the TV incoherently, (Boobahs, Teletubbies). On the other, cartoons went from being a form of mindless entertainment to mediums that were designed to teach kids lessons and morals, sending Dr. Phil-esque messages to those who watch them.
The public enemy of old cartoons would be the Disney Channel. With shows like Kim Possible, the Disney Channel has succeeded in moving away from the original cartoons that made them famous. Mickey Mouse and Goofy, cartoon violence veterans, are gone. Kim Possible is the future.
With all of the invasion of the politically correct, today's cartoon protagonists should be, theoretically, better for our children than yesterday's. The assumption is that when we remove all of the violence, excitement and other things that make shows enjoyable, the children will be left with ideal role models. Let's put that to the test and see how today's cartoons stack up against yesterday's cartoons in a good ole' fashioned showdown.
Round 1: Appeal
How do the characters appeal to their target audience?
Bugs Bunny -
Bugs is a heavyweight champion of cartoon violence but, like all of Looney Tunes' greatest heroes, he's not partial to blunt force; he is all about using his wits. Bugs has been able to defeat his adversaries with the use of his intellect alone, usually by turning their own plans against them. He appeals to girls for his charm and sense of humor, boys for his skills, and very confused boys for his habit of dressing like a woman.
Kim Possible -
Kim Possible lives a double life. On one side, she is a straight-A student and head of the cheerleaders. But little do people know that she is also a super secret spy, who got into the spy business due to an error by her first client. She spends her life balancing her dual roles, like a tiny, animated, boob-having Dexter.
Winner - Kim Possible
Despite the glaring handicap of being a handful of stereotypes rolled into one entity, Kim Possible wins this round because of one of the oldest creeds in the book: Sex sells. Admit it. Girls will watch the show because they want to be Kim Possible and, at the end of the day, it's just slightly less embarrassing for a boy to say "I want to fuck that cartoon spy" than "I want to fuck that cartoon rabbit dressed up as a female cartoon rabbit."
Round 2: Associates -
A man's worth is measured by the company he keeps.
Bugs Bunny -
Despite living an almost entirely selfish life, Bugs has managed to win over everyone he has ever feuded with. No matter how many times he's screwed over Daffy, Elmer and company for no reason, his winning charm can turn enemies to friends and even accomplices.
Kim Possible -
Kim Possible is usually seen hanging out with her best friend and hapless sidekick, Ron Stoppable, and his pet rat, Rufus. Outside of the very short list of friends and her family, Kim's only other associates are her high school rivals.
Winner - Bugs Bunny
Despite the fact that Bugs hasn't been depicted as having many (or any) true friends, he has earned a certain amount respect from his acquaintances. Further, as can clearly be shown in the case of Bunny v. Giant Space Monsters in the riveting documentary Space Jam, Bugs' former enemies will line up to defend, fight alongside and even follow their onetime tormentor. Meanwhile, Kim hasn't made a single friend since her show first aired.
Round 3: Abilities -
Pretty self explanatory.
Bugs Bunny -
As stated, Bugs' number one asset is his mind, be he also has considerable strength and is proficient in the art of disguise. Additionally, and this doesn't really come up that often, he's also skillful as a singer, a conductor, and a musician. While not a martial artist, Bugs has displayed that he is a proficient pugilist should the need arise.
Kim Possible -
Kim possesses reflexes and gymnastic abilities honed during her time as a cheerleader. She is also very strong, though it's unknown where she developed such strength. It was revealed that Kim is a practiced martial artist and knows over a dozen different styles, favoring Praying Mantis Kung Fu. Kim is a natural athlete, and has a penchant for extreme sports. She is also a singer of sorts.
Winner - Bugs Bunny
Despite the fact that Kim Possible possesses a good quantity of abilities, her talent is dwarfed by that of Bugs. Another thing that separates the two and proves who among them is the true cartoon is that despite being animated, Kim Possible is never seen participating in any cartoon violence or even breaking the laws of reality. She has never learned that there is no spoon.
Round 4: Accolades -
What have these two accomplished?
Bugs Bunny -
Apart from winning countless battles, Bugs has participated in and won bullfights, has conducted orchestras with very little knowledge as to what music they were playing, discovered the treasure of Ali Baba, ventured into outer space multiple times, discovered and escaped from the Abominable Snowman, and wrote his own cartoon panel. If Bugs has a shortcoming, it his poor navigational skills, as he is constantly searching for the elusive Pismo Beach, but has never found it.
Kim Possible -
Like bugs, she defeats the same batch of enemies over and over again, all while maintaining great grades and leading the cheerleading squad to... cheerleading victory? (Do cheerleaders battle other squads in death sports? Is that how it goes?)
Winner - Bugs Bunny
When it comes down to it, you can't beat experience. A 17 year-old cheerleader doesn't stack up to a 60+ year-old rabbit.
We don't need a fifth round for this contest. That's a relief, because the more that's written about Kim Possible, the angrier we get at Disney.
Winner - Bugs Bunny!
So let's take a look at the logic behind this. Parents are taking a 17 year-old friendless cheerleader, who, despite being a spy, is naive to the ways of the world, (not to mention a filthy, filthy liar), over a brilliant rabbit who has outwitted and outsmarted bullies and aggressors of every single species.
Also, and this is important, you know what kind of people watched Looney Tunes when they were kids? The kind of people who grew up to run Cracked.com. So, that's about infinity points for Bugs.
Tributes to Cartoon Violence
This section is merely a tribute to the best of the best cartoons out there, specifically, the ones with the most exaggerated instances of cartoon violence.
They've been mentioned already, but they'll be mentioned again. When you're talking about violence, you can't leave out the classics. Looney Tunes has entertained people of all ages over the past 60+ years, and it doesn't look they'll be stopping any time soon. If there was ever a doubt in your mind that cartoons were never good, you need look no further than the antics of Foghorn Leghorn to change your mind.
Tom and Jerry
This never ending game of interchanging cat and mouse has displayed some of the best cartoon violence in the history of animation. There was no venue safe from this furious duo. They traveled all over the world and through the time space continuum to slice each other into tiny pieces and squash each other down so that walking had the effect of a Weird Al past-time.
Ed, Edd, n' Eddy
Ed, Edd, n' Eddy set the bar on cartoon violence for anything that was played on Cartoon Network, and thus far, none have surpassed them. The Eds are the rare cartoon characters that never have anything go right for them, usually because of one of the three's idiosyncrasies. They pushed cartoon physics to the limit and displayed off the wall cartoon violence, and in one of the series's greatest episodes, poked fun at the laws of reality.
Ren and Stimpy
There exists a certain sect of cartoons that are designated for adults. And while watching the animated misadventures of a busty schoolgirl and her sexual exploits is entertaining in its own right, the cartoons like Ren and Stimpy were the black sheep of mainstream animation. Not only did they reach for as much violence as they could, they went to make things as disgusting and mature as they could get. If the writers of Ren and Stimpy had shown no restraint in their cartoons, Ren and Stimpy themselves would be an HBO special.