So said Foghorn Leghorn, who was one of my favorite cartoon characters. He was the cartoon master of the sardonic pun. I was raised on delightful cartoon characters like Tom and Jerry, Sylvester and Tweety, Chip and Dale, and others.
Looking back, I see that the cartoons of the 1960s were rife with violence, but at least it was sanitized violence. No blood was spilled and no bones were broken. Death itself was as easily reversible as a quality raincoat.
For instance, cartoon cats always had nine lives. This was illustrated by the injured cat’s out-of-body experience, in which ghostly feline apparitions, whose chests were numbered one through eight, rose from the body of the poor, temporarily dead kitty. Just as the last of its lives was leaving the body, all nine reentered and he was as good as new, in spite of the fact that he had just been hit by a semi.
Cartoon characters were thrown off cliffs, drowned, rolled over by steamrollers, smashed in the face with frying pans and irons, shoved into tiny jars, and hit with anvils. Most of these bloodless injuries are cured by the injured character blowing into his thumb until his body pops back into shape.
Many people believe that repeated exposure to this kind of TV violence begets aggressive, violent children. There were five TV-watching children in my house growing up. Yet somehow I knew that if I were to smash one of my siblings in the face with a cast-iron skillet, his face would not form the humorous shape of a skillet, nor would the skillet come away with his profile molded into it. His face would instead form a bloody pulp, necessitating a trip to the emergency room. After which, my mother would tan my hide and ground me for a month.
Unlike the cartoons, at my house, violent acts provoked an immediate and painful consequence. Although this would seem to send a mixed message (“Don’t hit your brother! We don’t hit in this house! Whack! Whack! on my behind), it was effective.
Lately, I keep thinking of cartoon violence inherent in the long-running feud between the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote. The Acme Company has to take a big part in the responsibility for that. Acme provided the tools and weapons which allowed the conflict to continue. For every package of magnetized bird seed it provided to the Road Runner, it provided to the Wile E. Coyote an anvil which, when dropped from a cliff, flattened the poor Road Runner. Not to fear, though. The Road Runner, none the worse for wear, appeared fully recovered in the next scene. Acme got rich providing both characters the means to annoy the heck out of each other.
Hmm, I wonder if there is a way I could come up with a similar scam of a business, in which I could play one group of customers against another, and thus make money off of both. My business acumen is legendary. People still talk about the time, when I was ten years old, I swallowed a quarter and then eliminated it later as two dimes, a nickel, and five pennies, which is a better rate of interest than my bank offers.
I know! My tandem business will be a combination driving school/insurance company; businesses which would feed off each other like buzzards off road kill. I will take impressionable, inexperienced 16-year-olds and turn them into accident-prone road hazards, leaving a paper trail of accident reports right back to my bank account. I already have a few questions composed for the final exam of my driving test.
“If another driver cuts you off in traffic, how far should you go out of your way to pay him back?”
(1) the next county
(2) the Mason/Dixon Line
(3) the Arctic Circle
“If a driver is tailgating you, the correct response to that is?
(1) give him the finger
(2) slam on your brakes
(3) challenge him to a drag race
(4) all of the above
“On wet pavement, how close should you follow the car ahead of you?”
(1) close enough to read his bumper sticker
(2) close enough to see if he has dandruff
(3) close enough to prompt a marriage proposal
Yesterday I accidentally swallowed a quarter again. This time it came out of me as three dimes and a nickel. Yeah, I’ve still got it! I’m going to be rich. Anybody got a 16-year-old I can teach to drive? If you agree to that, just like Paul Revere’s ride, you’re a little light in the belfry.