Earlier this week, WB announced that it had decided to replace Elmer Fudd’s gun with a scythe for any upcoming Looney Tunes shorts that will be aired on HBO Max. While the decision to change the hunter’s arsenal was made in order to check the spread of gun violence, hundreds of people have since deemed the censorship unnecessary and ideologically-motivated.
Interestingly, outrage over the ban became so widespread that a Looney Tunes cartoonist saw fit to respond to it. Michael Ruocco, a veteran animator at WB, let fans of his work know that he was absolutely baffled by their disappointment. Noting that the range of gun-related jokes is rather limited – not to mention exhausted after decades of productions – he also pointed out that the gun, which many regard as an integral part of Fudd’s personality, is little more than a stand-in for the character’s “flawed, challenged masculinity.”
Do you guys SERIOUSLY care whether or not Elmer Fudd has a gun in our shorts? You know how many gags we can do with guns? Fairly few. And the best were already done by the old guys. It's limiting. It was never about the gun, it was about Elmer's flawed, challenged masculinity.
— Michael Ruocco (@AGuyWhoDraws) June 7, 2020
With his post, Ruocco effectively defeated the strongest arguments of his opponents. Indeed, while the image of this little hunter stalking his nemesis (Bugs Bunny) with a comically over-sized riffle has cemented itself as one of the most iconic that WB’s animation department has ever made, it’s hardly that important. Rather than repeating old gags which, as Ruocco said, the “old guys” did better anyway, the ban provides an opportunity for his team to get creative.
And it’s high time for some creativity. Looney Tunes, like other classic cartoons, has suffered from a level of stagnation that even the most mundane of MCU blockbusters cannot compare to. Programs centered around character rivalries like Bugs & Fudd, Roadrunner & Wile E Coyote, and Tom & Jerry, have been doing the same thing over and over again for nearly three quarters of a century.
When will it stop? Hopefully now, but we’ll just have to see.