It’s been discussed online a lot. The stable of Warner Bros. animation characters are shadows of their former selves. Every time there’s a new short released in theaters or a new series put on television with Bugs and Daffy it feels like someone using a corpse as a puppet. Maybe that’s a bit morbid, but honestly, the characters died with Chuck Jones. The last of their fathers passed away and with them went the soul of the characters.
I’m not saying that there aren’t talented writers and animators out there. Far from it. I think that if american “funny” cartoons are to survive then it’s time for new characters. For a little while there in the 90’s I thought we were starting to move on. Animaniacs was everything you liked about Looney Tunes with updated references, funny writing, and a fantastic voice cast but like everything else it got ruined when the executives and bean counters got involved.
Executives are the antithesis of the creative. They look at charts and graphs and clueless focus groups to determine, scientifically, what funny is. Yes, hitting a guy with a mallet is amusing, but what do the focus groups think? Is it marketable? Will children with ignorant parents emulate this? How many plush dolls will this sell? None of that has to do with comedy or enjoyment. Look at the movie Hancock if you want to see an example of a film constructed by executives and focus groups.
What we need are a group of creatives, put them in an isolate place, tell them to make something to entertain themselves, and give them relatively free reign. It worked for Termite Terrace and look what they produced.
That’s not to say that complete freedom is essential. Let’s take a look at John K. and the Ren and Stimpy Adult Party Cartoon Show for a second. Remember that? We watched the first episode on Spike and we stopped watching immediately. I think the world at large did. Adult and extreme humor doesn’t automatically equal funny. John K. had finally gotten control of his babies back and he ran it straight into the ground. That’s why I said relatively free reign. Some limits force you to be creative.
So what I’m really asking for is simple. Lay the old characters to rest and give us something new. Give us some funny cartoons again. Let the creatives create and don’t chain them down completely.