February 22, 2005

You realize of course...

THIS means war!

... or does it?

If you haven't already heard about it, then you're either living under a rock... or, well... living in the real world with genuine concerns and issues to address. No problem, there's plenty of us to contribute to the free publicity Warner Bros enjoys with their latest announcement--
WB seeks revitalized cartoon franchise with new look for Bugs Bunny and friends

Get this. They're not really trying to redo the same shorts with the same characters in a new, gritty style. It's worse. They want to bank on the recent success of Teen Titans and place amped up versions of the classic Looney Tunes characters in a dark future as... ugh (stomach pains)... super heros. How I wish I were joking. Check out this clip.

Anyone remember the last time a star icon underwent a major 'make-over' in order to attract the younger consumers? No, no! Not that one!

In April 1985, the Coca-Cola Company introduced a "New Coke" in response to Pepsi's "Taste Challenge." The public backlash to the change was so vocal, Coca-Cola admitted they "goofed" and returned the original coke to the shelves as "Classic Coke" in July of the same year. Do I expect Warner Bros. to say "oops! That really didn't happen!" in a couple months and quietly sweep these ink stains under the light table? Nope. Bad news and frothing bloggers are still great publicity. Warner Bros NEVER gave a hare's ass about the Looney Tunes characters. Why should they start now? They own the characters and haven't been able to do SQUAT with them in over 50 years. Oh sure, they parade them about every once in a while like a pretentious pimp with his "girls" on the street. Only this pimp is a market-driven, focus group testing, merchandising, overseas out-sourcing, written and directed by committee, mega-million dollar machine.

As Amid Amidi at Cartoon Brew pointed out, "To display anger over LOONATICS means that Warner Bros. has won yet again. The executives love hearing affirmation that people still care about these characters; when somebody likes the cartoons enough to voice concern, they know their job is safe."

The flamboyant, Leon Schlesinger managed the animation department at Warner Bros in the 1930's. Responsible for the creation of "Looney Tunes" and "Merry Mellodies", Leon had a nose for business and an eye for talent. He was a tightwad with the budget and a tyrant with production schedules. However, he knew just enough about quality animation productions to know he knew NOTHING about animation production! He gathered the talents of Bob Clampett, Tex Avery, Friz Freleng, Chuck Jones, Robert McKimson, Michael Maltese, Virgil Ross, Ken Harris, Mel Blanc, Carl Stalling, scores others and gave them a deadline. The convergence of inspired writing, endearing personalities, outrageous animation, ingenious vocal characterizations, and masterful orchestrations was possible primarily because they were LEFT ALONE TO CREATE!

Yet even this collection of crazy geniuses couldn't keep Bugs and company as fresh and inspired after 30 years of "What's up, doc?" There's only so much yarn to spin from the golden fleece. Chuck Jones went on to MGM to respin the same tired routine of the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote in the form of a re-vamped Tom & Jerry. While Jones managed to breathe some new life into the classic duo, MGM could see the writing on the screen scrapped all production of animated theatrical shorts in 1967.

I'm exstatic Warner Bros is releasing the multiple volumes of the Looney Tunes Golden Collection. Certainly, many complain about the exclusion (or inclusion) of one or another short from the first two volumes. But, come on! I've NEVER seen any of these with the colors and details so lovingly restored. Every video release prior to this collection had undergone the "tender" mercies of a mafia surgeon in a back alley office, hacking pieces of one short into another in some vain attempt to frankenstein together a full-length title. These volumes are complete and beautifully done.

What more does everyone want from the rabbit, anyway? The suits at Warner Bros have proven several times over that no amount of "star" power and cash can turn the clock back to recreate the same magic. It's a fool's errand to take 12 minute gag reels created by legends and attempt to make it work 50 years later in a 90 minute feature farmed out to multiple studios in 4 countries with more thought put into product placement and ancillary product lines than the story itself. Bugs, Daffy, Elmer, and the rest have earned their place of honor and prestige in cinematic history. Let them retire without the cliche of Hollywood "extreme makeovers" and ever crappier sequels.

Instead, how about the suits learn from history and bring together a slew of burgoning talent, give them a huge stack of blank paper, and keep the GQ PM's from the Consumer Products Division the hell away from them! They just might create something worth animating about for the next 50 years.

I don't know how many of you actually read the article linked at the top of this post. The bottom line behind this folly? David Janollari, president of the Kids' WB said "both boys and girls enjoyed the new action figures in test runs of the show. Their parents may be a little surprised, however."

no... you think?

- Lito

Posted by Lito at 12:09 AM