Monday, October 30, 2006

What liberals could learn from Bugs Bunny


When I was a little girl, watching cartoon reruns in the early morning hours before school, Bugs Bunny was my hero. Saturday morning was the time for "Yogi Bear's Laffalympics" and "Scooby-Doo" spinoffs, but Yogi and Scooby could never match Bugs for cleverness and cool.

In 2002, TV Guide ranked Bugs Bunny #1 on the list of the greatest cartoon characters of all time. How does one explain his appeal? You could say it's a combination of brilliant animation, clever catchphrases, smart writing, and cheerfully irreverent nods to high and popular culture. But it's also because Bugsy is a quintessentially American icon. He could've only been conceived, written, and drawn right here in the USA. He epitomizes street smarts and resourcefulness. He's unflappable and fearless. He makes mistakes, like that wrong turn en route to Pismo Beach, but he always bounces back. He's the cartoon icon for those who grew up believing in the American dream.

Watching those animation shorts, one realizes that Bugs never goes looking for trouble; trouble always comes to him. That's the difference between Bugs and, say, Daffy Duck. Like American liberals, Bugs is always underestimated by the enemy. And his enemies bear a strange resemblance to today's odious conservative archetypes. I'm not just talking about Cheney's likeness to Elmer Fudd here. There's short-tempered, unhinged, gun-crazy Yosemite Sam, fighting the Civil War 90 years after it ended. There's greedy, backstabbing Daffy Duck, who would've fit in perfectly at Enron. There's the Tasmanian Devil, as batshit crazy as anyone in Osama bin Laden's inner circle. And, of course, Wile E. Coyote, super genius. Can't you imagine Acme delivering crappy products in exchange for exclusive government contracts?

American liberals have plenty of righteous anger, but the trick is to respond with sass and irreverence as well as passion. Bugs Bunny would let his opponent foam and froth, keeping his wits about him, never losing his cool. And, in the end, you knew Bugs would get the upper hand...and he'd do it in style. Not unlike Keith Olbermann, Jon Stewart, and Stephen Colbert today.

Today's liberals can find inspiration in Bugs as they respond to GOP mismanagement and right-wing lies. For starters, we can imagine what Bugs Bunny would say: "He don't know me very well, do he?"

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