Yesterday my husband and I stumbled into a Looney Toones show on tv and watched two cartoons with Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner (or Beep Beep). I had not watched one in ages – fifteen years? They were exactly like any other episode, I suppose, the coyote trying to catch the bird with absurd technology which ALWAYS backfires, the bird impassively commenting “Beep beep” and running away.
I don’t know how many episodes were made – it seems the cartoons were produced from the late 40’s to the early ’60s, so when I watched them in the following decades they were already old – now they’re prehistoric, even crude, but they are as funny as ever, you end up laughing to tears, and of course you are slightly sorry for the poor beast who is too clever for its own good.
Of all the old cartoons I can think of they are the most visual, and the most repetitive – you could sum up the plot as “Desert mammal tries to catch desert bird with absurd traps and gimmicks. It gets hurt. The bird beep-beeps and leaves; repeat three-four-five times”. And yet they are probably the funniest among Looney tunes ans Merry melodies: no silly dialogues (What’s up doc?), no moments of pathos because someone has been frozen solid or squashed by a ton of bricks – just exhilaratng mini-stories with a drop of cruelty, which doesn’t make you feel guilty because they’re so totally unrealistic. Still I think there may be another reason why we can still watch it even if we know exactly what is going to happen
Might we take the Wile E. Coyote as an accidental metaphor of the human race, doing damage to itself and to the planet? While it pursues the roadrunner with the help of dangerous stuff, it blows up rocks and tears down pinnacles in what looks like a stretch of the Colorado plateau. In one of yesterday’s episodes it literally blazes a trail across the desert.
One last thing on a lighter note, about the coyote’s name: the original is ironic, of course, because the quadruped is neither wiley nor sly. In Italy we call it Vil coyote, which would mean cowardly – poor thing, craven it is not.
I shoud add these cartoons to my short list of instant mood lifters on youtube. They would work.
That’s all folks!