Elmer Fudd is finding new ways to shoot himself in the foot — now only figuratively speaking — in HBO Max's new Looney Tunes Cartoons series.
The longtime gun-toting Bugs Bunny antagonist, just as famous for his double-barrel shotgun as he is his "wascally wabbitty" speech impediment, is no longer bearing arms on the new streamer's reboot of the Warner Bros. animated staple.
"We're not doing guns, but we can do cartoony violence — TNT, the Acme stuff. All that was kind of grandfathered in," executive producer Peter Browngardt told the New York Times. While Fudd's disarming is drawing the bulk of media attention, his fellow legacy gunslinger Yosemite Sam has also lost his trusty firearms since the new series launched late last month.
Unsurprisingly, the decision has been met with equal parts accolades and scorn in a country still fiercely divided on gun issues.
"You can't take away his gun!" Joe Piscopo, the Saturday Night Live comedian-turned-radio host said on Fox News. "Drop an anvil on his head, it'll be fine. Explode some dynamite, that'll be fine.
"Give Elmer Fudd back his rifle. It's Looney Tunes, it's the best in the world. And they can't start being politically correct with cartoons, please."
Fox News guest is livid Elmer Fudd will no longer have a gun— Lis Power (@LisPower1) June 8, 2020
Joe Piscopo: "You can't take his gun away! ... And what's worse, they leave his speech impediment but they take his gun away. I can't figure this one out" pic.twitter.com/2X33yyLq2C
Even Star Trek alum William Shatner appears upset, coyly referencing the show's "presentism."
So they are remaking Looney Tunes?🤔😳 I cannot wait to see what presentism will do them. 🙄— William Shatner (@WilliamShatner) June 7, 2020
As absurd as it might seem for a cultural battle over the gun rights of a hand-drawn cartoon character, Piscopo does make a pair of valid points. One, if you're going to still feature a hunter as an antagonist, why wouldn't he have a rifle, as hunters do? And two, Fudd isn't any less violent when using explosive devices.
But as gun-control advocates would argue, the specific portrayal of gun violence — an exponentially more prevalent problem in the United States — could help desensitize young viewers to it.
I love cartoons; always have and I'm a big believer that classic cartoons can teach us a lot about the world views of the era they were made, even if they aren't socially acceptable in a modern era. Especially so.— Hey FizzyJay (@hey_fizzy_jay) June 7, 2020
So kudos Warner Bros for taking this stance on gun violence. pic.twitter.com/0ciVJQCQS0
And as one social media user pointed out on Twitter, Fudd has long wielded other weapons besides a shotgun, which has been less and less prevalent in more recent iterations of the cartoon.
I CAN'T BELIEVE THE NEW LOONEY TUNES CARTOONS *cough* which are actually great, go check them out *cough* WON'T LET ELMER FUDD USE A GUN.— Weird-O (@Wierd_o78033920) June 7, 2020
ELMER'S ONLY CHARACTER TRAIT IS A GUN. THAT'S IT. THE ORIGINAL CREATORS WOULD NEVER MAKE A CARTOON WHERE HE DIDN'T USE A GUN AT ALL-
Looney Tunes writer Michael Ruocco responded to the dust-up on Twitter Sunday: "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," he wrote. "Also, think about context about what's going on in the world, and how long ago our show started production. Late 2017, early 2018. Right on the heels of a record number of mass shootings, particularly the horrific one in Las Vegas. NOBODY wanted to touch guns working in media."
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
Regardless of the rising gun controversy, Looney Tunes Cartoons is already proving to hit the target for HBO Max. It's been one of the fledgling streaming service's most popular shows since launching May 27.
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