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Philosophy behind cartoons

By Pathum Punchihewa

disneyThe only thing the sworn antagonist of ‘Road Runner’, ‘Wile E. Coyote’ need is to take ‘Road Runner’ down. Well, Coyote have tried many things in many ways but still this ‘never say die’, bull-headed furry bird is alive and kicking!! And running!!! with his world famous ‘beep beep’. But ‘Wile E. Coyote’ is all set to try again with a devil’s spirit and he has some attractive new gadgets to surprise road runner as well as us.

Coyote swings from a high place armed with a javelin, looking to spear the Road Runner. This time, he simply ploughs into the ground as the Road Runner calmly passes on the right. Well… there should be other ways.

Next time coyote stuffs a gun on a spring into a ground compartment and locks it with a safety lock, hoping to shoot his enemy, but due to the excessive spring force, the gun does a 180 and ends up on the opposite side of the coyote, upside down, but pointed in his face. Wile can only plug the barrel with a finger before getting blasted in the face. Then, the gun returns to the hole in the ground, pulling its owner with it. Probably road runner thinks “To beep or not to beep “…

Are you a fan of Coyote and Road Runner? Not only children but also mature adults from every nook and corner of the world still love those two cartoony characters which come to light with Warner Brothers’ ‘Looney Tunes’ series.

Besides teens and children, young people and even elderly people watch cartoons in spite of their busy schedules. I know I do. How about you? Saturday morning cartoons may seem like pointless fun. But maybe there is a meaning to this madness.

The first scene I mentioned before among ‘Road Runner’ and ‘Wile E. Coyote’ surprisingly incorporates a lot of positive and negative philosophical messages that are common in many cartoons that follow the cat-and-mouse pattern, with easy words one character is always stymied by another character.

These cartoons, and especially Roadrunner, or bugs bunny or that kind of cartoon characters incorporate morals, comedic violence, absurdity and the role of science versus nature. Aristotle would argue that the Roadrunner seems to be living the “good life” and Coyote is the perfect slave, because Coyote is ruled by his desire, as Plato would suggest in his ‘Three Parts of the Soul’.

All of these cartoons are exceedingly existential, with Coyote being the typical existential hero. It could be argued, however, that both Coyote and Roadrunner find their own meaning by playing the cat and mouse game. Roadrunner can be seen for entertainment value, but there are unquestionable underlying philosophical elements present in this and many similar children’s cartoons.

What are the morals you can gain through those cartoons? Good wins over bad? Innocent or comical violence? Or try and try one day you can ‘catch the road runner’…!!!?

Wile E. Coyote is an interesting character, in that he is extremely determined to catch the Roadrunner. Every episode he comes up with new and different methods for catching his prey. For these characteristics, he presents a good message to all who watch: to never give up, and keep trying new and different things. Another cartoon that shares this view is Pinky and the Brain. Every episode, the two mice, Pinky and Brain, think up new schemes to take over the world, but like Coyote, fail on every attempt.

Of course there are some diluted bad massages that rush through those cartoons. Violence is fun, those cartoons say. Trying to kill a Roadrunner, or take over the world is hardly a message that should be projected and encouraged. Maybe this is why these characters continually fail at their task; otherwise, the cartoons would share a discouraging message: world domination is possible.

But, we are not children anymore… we are teens and youngsters who can possess the sense about good and bad, the value of morals and the true nature of life. Nevertheless still there are some ‘things’ which some people can learn through cartoons.

I have seen some friends who are in creative businesses as advertising; watch those cartoons and come up with some creative ideas. What do you think about the clean fun that you can have through watching cartoons? As we all have to run the system and we are so tired, a good cartoon can refresh us. Make us children again. Make us laugh. It is a good point to watch ‘Tin Tin’ or ‘Looney tunes’.

‘Existentialism’ is also extremely prevalent in regards to many cartoons. In Roadrunner especially, there seems to be no real point to the cartoon, other than to see all the different ways that Wile E. Coyote can fail.

All one would need to do is watch two episodes to understand the whole premise of the show. This holds true for many cartoons such as, Pinky and the Brain, The Sylvester and Tweety Show, Tom and Jerry, Itchy and Scratchy as well as pretty much any Looney Tunes, Tiny Toons, Mickey Mouse or Animaniacs episode.

However the point is to never think you are too mature for a cartoon. Never let the child inside you fade. It never makes you a ‘baby’ or a ‘geek’ or a ‘nerd’. It will instead make you more human.

Yesterday you watched it as a little kid; today you are a big man who contributes to the system, the society and ready to have some fun with your childhood days' favourite cartoon characters. So occupy the chair and wait for the ‘never say die’ road runners honk, “beep beep”…!!!

Published on Youth Mirror - Daily Mirror (Thursday, 28 January 2010)


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