What gives Bugs Bunny his lasting power?
What gives Bugs Bunny his lasting power? In the cartoon masterpiece Duck Amuck, a rogue animator tortures Daffy Duck by constantly changing the background around him. The ending reveals Bugs Bunny as the animator. (Smithsonian.com)
What gives Bugs Bunny his lasting power?
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More than seventy-five years ago, a gangly, gray rabbit hopped out of a hole in the ground, knocked on a bald man's head and asked, "What's Up, Doc?" to the tune of the crunch of a large carrot.
 
Though the rabbit had appeared in previous short films, this fateful scene in the 1940 Warner Brothers animated short "A Wild Hare," introduced the version of the rabbit that would become the cultural icon of Bugs Bunny. (Earlier shorts referred to "Happy Rabbit," and while "A Wild Hare" didn't use the name Bugs Bunny, it was the first where the character had a specific personality, appearance and catchphrase.) In the short film, Bugs takes great pleasure in eluding the "wabbit" hunting Elmer Fudd.
 
In the decades since, Bugs has appeared in over 150 films, earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was the first animated character to get his face on a postage stamp. TV Guide ranked him number one atop a list of the 50 greatest cartoon characters.
 
The "Looney Tunes" and "Merrie Melodies" films came out of the Warner Brothers animation studios, where a team of artists, directors and voice actors collaborated on the classic cartoons.  Unlike Disney's Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, who came with their own set of physical characteristics but lacked much personality, Bugs was defined by his wiseacre attitude and witty banter.
 
According to Linda Jones Clough, the business partner and daughter of famed animator Chuck Jones, Bugs rocketed to fame because he was "character driven, rather than gag driven," Jones Clough said. And while every director put his own spin on Bugs Bunny, they all agreed on one thing: Bugs was never to be mean-spirited.
 
That quality was critical to his fame. "It was very important that he be provoked," said Chuck Jones in a 1998 interview, "because otherwise he'd be a bully and we didn't want that. We wanted him to be a nice person." 
 
They wanted him to be a nice person, but not a pushover. But for the directors and audiences alike, Bugs was more than just a cartoon character.
 
"[My father's] attitude was that Bugs already existed and they were just writing about him," said Jones Clough. "He would come home in the evening and say to my mother, 'You won't believe what Bugs Bunny said today!' "

"'What do you mean?' she would say. 'You wrote it.' "
 
"'No, I discovered under the circumstances that this is what he would say."
 
For years after Bugs first uttered his signature question, it seemed as though America couldn't get enough of the character and his trickster ways. Within four years, films starring Bugs from the "Merrie Melodies" and "Looney Tunes" series were popular enough to be sold to theaters in a separate category called "Bugs Bunny Specials."
 
In that same era, Bugs successfully straddled the world of entertainment and politics, sneaking his way into World War II propaganda and advertisements for war bonds. The Marine Corps gave him honorary status as a private after he appeared in a marine uniform exclaiming that a marine was a real superman, in the 1943 film "Super-Rabbit."  But like any public figure, Bugs has engaged in his fair share of controversial activity. War-era films star Bugs as the hero pitted against offensively caricatured Japanese and German soldiers.
 
Still, Bugs moved past that questionable phase and continues to win the hearts and laughs of the people all over the world.
 
Perhaps what audiences love the most about Bugs Bunny is not his unique personality, but his ability to stay true to it. From his opera debut in "What's Opera, Doc?" to his jaunt in live action films, such as "Space Jam", Bugs Bunny doesn't change. 
 
Though more recent animated characters from Bart Simpson to Eric Cartman have established themselves through a sliding scale of meanness, Bugs remains the lovable character that only plays tricks on those who deserve it most.


Merrie Melodies - A Wild Hare (1940) by Cartoonzof2006

Source URL: https://www.tweentribune.com/article/teen/what-gives-bugs-bunny-his-lasting-power/

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
How did Warner Brothers keep Bugs a "nice person?"
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (103)
  • tayces-lam
    9/23/2015 - 10:37 a.m.

    It's pretty cool that he's an honorary U.S. Marine private. I didn't know that he had appeared in over 150 short films, but my guess was close.

  • lillianp-lam
    9/23/2015 - 10:40 a.m.

    I think it's interesting that the animators viewed him as a real person. Today, it might not be as strange as it was way back when there were only a few cartoon characters (who didn't have very much personality, anyways). They kept Bugs a nice person by making it seem like he was only defending himself, but also making a show of doing so and throwing in a few comments here and there to make him the lovable "wise guy".

  • makaelar-lam
    9/23/2015 - 10:50 a.m.

    I think that this article was very interesting to read. I also think that it was a good idea for the writers to make Bugs nice and only nice in the 150 shows/films he did. Another good part about this article is when they talk about Bugs enemies.

  • diegos-lam
    9/23/2015 - 10:54 a.m.

    It seems as if Bugs Bunny usually gets into trouble on his own account and fights it out in a blaze of victory and trickery with the character that gets him angry. For example, in Lumberjack Rabbit, he would technically have been stealing from "Paul Bunyan" when he started mining, therefore Smidgen is really just protecting his owner's crops. Even though I do not think Bugs Bunny is seen with any parts of the carrots he stole. On the other side, I really like how Bugs Bunny does not use any lethal, or otherwise deadly methods to take down his opponents . Most of the time it usually gets at least a giggle from some of the most serious people. In my opinion, all plots have to have a problem, and a solution, and Bugs Bunny is used for more of a comical than serious character.

  • gavinc-bai
    9/23/2015 - 11:48 a.m.

    By only having him be mean to people that disereve it the most

  • pariss-bai
    9/23/2015 - 11:48 a.m.

    By making him not a nasty and mean character making his a nice caring character.

  • jacobt-lam
    9/23/2015 - 11:50 a.m.

    Wow I used to watched him all the time he was the best I loved him. He teaches us to stand up for yourself but at the same time be kind and caring to others. I never new he was in 150 films or that he was in a cartoon based on world war two.

  • lydiag-bai
    9/23/2015 - 11:50 a.m.

    The Warner Brothers kept Bugs nice because he kept him at Bugs true personality.

  • madisons-bai
    9/23/2015 - 11:50 a.m.

    The Warner bros made him so he would only mess with people who messed with him. But he never messed with them in a mean way.

  • alynahha-bai
    9/23/2015 - 11:50 a.m.

    They kept Bugs a nice person by agreeing that he needed to be well spirited and nice rather than being a bully.

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