Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote

Everyone remembers his favorite childhood-cartoon(s). I grew up in the nineties and we watched a lot of them but my Top 5 were/are most definitely: 5. Scooby-Doo: what the fuck were they thinking of doing 2 shitty movies out of this great cartoon?! 4. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: when I try to think back I really don’t remember that much from the series. I have to check them out again and oh yes, I always was Leonardo! 3. Ghostbusters: this American animation was produced and released AFTER the great Ghostbusters movie from 1984. This is probably one of my favorite franchises ever! 2. The old Tom and Jerry series. I think I don’t have to introduce this one. But my all-time favorite is the incredible 1. Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote cartoon.

Both figures were invented by Chuck Jones, they started in 2 Warner Bros. Productions and were first aired in 1949 and 1952. What I love(d) the most about this series was its famous characteristic traits and distinguished feature: The short animations, with an average runtime of 6-7 minutes, based on a simple and never changing storyline, the exaggerated violence and actions (which even for a cartoon exceeded the boundaries of common sense and physical laws) made this series quite unique and so precious for me.

The failing of Coyote’s  high tech and sophisticated traps and his own incompetence were always marked by “hurting” himself while falling down a huge cliff (it never was the Road Runner who “hurt” Wile E.). Everyone that has seen this cartoon has, though Wile E. was or should have been the villain, at some point secretly wished that this clumsy but likebale being should catch the arrogant and bitchy bird.

Furthermore I’m NOT going to do a social-psychological analysis of the violence in cartoons and the possible impact on the (young) audience’s social development and behaviour but as the subject of medial violence becomes more and more important nowadays, I decided to add, very briefly, a few personal thoughts.

First of all I think that the perception, reception, the understanding and processing of the television and it’s broadcasted comics differ primarily from the actual infant development. I won’t go too deep now (maybe I’m going to write a post based on this particular subject later on) but very young children don’t understand that they are shown pictures. Little children believe that the people, animals etc are actually living in the television and it often happens that they try to communicate with them. I remember one specific happening where I was trying to speak with a magician on the Luxembourgish TV channel (even adult people, mainly men, sometimes try to communicate with soccer players during a match but that’s a different story ^^).

When young children get older and the growth of personal identity gets more and more important they are facing inevitable and vitally significant developmental tasks and social problems and that’s where imagination gains importance. Children sample connections between their self and reality, which then are applied to the real world, or not. I think with the increasing development of a child, there normally is a better “understanding” of the television. Nevertheless this understanding often differs from the grownups. I’ll try to make this clear with the example of Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote. Most of the adults only see never ending sequences of nonesene physical brutality. I think that this brutality doesn’t play a role in children’s viewing. I even would go further and say that they wouldn’t describe this cartoon as violent, because nobody really got hurt, no blood was shown and in the end everything turned into good. Children pay more attention to the different roles of the characters because “roles” become more an more important in their real-life.

I claim that Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote is a very special and maybe unique cartoon. In most other animations, the young children identify with the “weak”, small character, who mostly becomes a hero because he “fights” or deals with the strong “bad” one (for example: Tom and Jerry). In my particular example children tend to sympathise with the coyote. Wile E. is probably the first anti-hero most children (of my generation) have ever seen or heard of. The Road Runner only plays a “passive” role without any clear character building which makes it difficult for children to relate to.

I want to stop here by reminding that these are only a few unelaborated personal opinions and that I just scratched the surface of this waste subject. Back to topic: Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote makes so much fun and I am still laughing at it, which is a good sign and shows that deep inside I am still a young boy!



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