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. He knocked on a bald man's head. Then he asked, "What's Up, Doc?"  The phrase was made to the tune of the crunch of a large carrot.
 
Though the rabbit had appeared in previous short films, this was a fateful scene in the 1940 Warner Brothers animated short "A Wild Hare."  It 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 and appearance. And a 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. He has earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. And he 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. A team of artists, directors and voice actors collaborated on the classic cartoons. Bugs was unlike Disney's Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. They came with their own set of physical characteristics. But they lacked personality. Bugs was defined by his wise guy 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."  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 very important 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. 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 spoke his signature question, it seemed as though America couldn't get enough of the character. Or 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. They appeared in a separate category called "Bugs Bunny Specials."
 
In that same era, Bugs successfully overlapped the world of entertainment and politics. He sneaked his way into World War II propaganda and advertisements for war bonds. The Marine Corps gave him honorary status as a private. That came after he appeared in a marine uniform exclaiming that a marine was a real superman. It was part of the 1943 film "Super-Rabbit."  

But like any public figure, Bugs has engaged in his fair share of questionable activity. War-era films star Bugs as the hero pitted against offensively caricatured Japanese and German soldiers.
 
Still, Bugs moved past that questionable phase. He 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. Rather, it is 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.
 
More recent animated characters from Bart Simpson to Eric Cartman have established themselves through a sliding scale of meanness. But Bugs remains the lovable character. He only plays tricks on those who deserve it most.


Merrie Melodies - A Wild Hare (1940) by Cartoonzof2006

Source URL: https://www.tweentribune.com/article/tween56/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 (275)
  • ayanec-rei
    9/21/2015 - 10:52 a.m.

    they did keep Bugs nice because if he was not nice then there will not be Bugs.

  • katelynw-was
    9/21/2015 - 11:28 a.m.

    The Warner Brothers kept bugs a nice person because Bugs Bunny is a nice character made for all ages. If a little child would watch it they would want to watch something nice and not violent. The children's parents would want their child to feel safe too. Bugs Bunny is always a family favorite, well to my family anyways. Bugs has been around for a long time and he has been nice for many years and i don't think the people who made him will never change him.

  • erickf-san
    9/21/2015 - 12:51 p.m.

    I like bugs bunny he is very funny when he's in movies and cartoons and he is very different from the other characters in the movies and cartoons.

  • erickf-san
    9/21/2015 - 01:03 p.m.

    I love bugs bunny because he's funny,fast,catchy,and he is a very great because he's so old he's like 75 years old I mean that's old but still I love him so much and he's 75 years old I don't even know how he he is 75 years old and he is still alive I mean mostly wouldn't even know him.

  • xavierf-
    9/21/2015 - 01:08 p.m.

    they chose to keep him like that so he can be entertaining to the viewers watching

  • jadaj-
    9/21/2015 - 01:12 p.m.

    Warner Brothers kept Bugs a nice person because Bugs Bunny make little kids laugh and for years after Bugs Bunny came out he was the most improve character on the loony tunes.

  • briannec-ste
    9/21/2015 - 01:34 p.m.

    Bugs Bunny is one of my favorite cartoons.

  • landenm- we
    9/21/2015 - 02:04 p.m.

    bugs bunny is very funny

  • ryderc- we
    9/21/2015 - 02:09 p.m.

    I lic the rtcoit be wusa lot of fun

  • roycec- we
    9/21/2015 - 02:10 p.m.

    I like Bugs Bunny

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