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Deconstructing the Canary - A little less than a happy high — LiveJournal
Deconstructing the Canary
I never liked Tweety Bird. Even as a kid, I thought he was too smug and too arrogant, and I never bought into the innocent victim act with him. Recently, I shared these ideas with a friend of mine who observe, almost immediately, "You must have really hated the Road Runner then." Not so, at least not until the early eighties when 'The Makers' began importing the Tweety/Sylvester formula into the desert.

What's the difference? The chase and escape plots between Wiley and the Road Runner rested on the idea that regardless of your level of preparation, even the best laid plans can go awry. Wiley is continually transformed into the victim of his own plotting. He becomes a statement on humanity, a cautionary tale against hubris, against the idea that we can conquer nature through use of our elaborate technological tools. The Road Runner is a true innocent, or at least a true manifestation of the caprice of nature.

What becomes interesting about it all is that there is something of a role reversal here. The Road runner fills the role of the trickster spirit (a role normally reserved for Coyote.) Wiley denies his nature and is done in by it.

Tweety Bird is another thing entirely. He displays a veneer of innocence, but there is clearly something that is far more sinister lying beneath the surface. The threat that Sylvester poses is met with a deliberateness and, I would argue, maliciousness that is difficult to overlook. Here, it is the hunter that retains his true nature, and the prey that has become something that is frighteningly removed from what he should be.

For Tweety, the end of his interactions with Sylvester is not escape, but punishment. Evading Sylvester's attempts at predation are not enough, Tweety demonstrates a desire to cause pain and humiliation. You can see it in things like the "Oops, ran out of piddies" gag that has Sylvester plummeting from impossible heights, or in the endless glee that Tweety takes in leading his nemesis into being torn apart by the dog... again.

I thought one of the best portrayals of Tweety ever was in Who Framed Roger Rabbit. There again, the "piddies" gag was used, but in this case, Tweety was doing it to a real human being, someone for whom cartoon physics didn't apply. Instead of listening to Eddie as he pleaded, Tweety had an almost psychotic and definitely bored expression on his face. He feels nothing as he releases Eddie's last finger and watches him plummet.

I suppose we could excuse him because he is 'just being who he is,' but there really is a senselessness to his violence. He is sociopathic, and no amount of cuteness or mock surprise can hide the fact that he delights in causing pain to those who would threaten him.

Current Mood: Trickster spirit
Current Music: Sneaker Pimps, "Water Baby"

11 comments or Leave a comment
shutupbetsy From: shutupbetsy Date: November 14th, 2002 08:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
*great big smile*
komos From: komos Date: November 14th, 2002 09:01 pm (UTC) (Link)

Sometimes I really think I should either get more sleep or far less caffeine.
From: couplingchaos Date: November 15th, 2002 06:21 am (UTC) (Link)
no sleep for you! i like the product of your sleep-dep'd caffeine high.
komos From: komos Date: November 16th, 2002 06:40 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thanks. Truth be known, I kind of enjoyed it too.
khourytamarisk From: khourytamarisk Date: November 15th, 2002 05:49 am (UTC) (Link)

"I am Wily E. Coyote, Super Genius!!!"

I swear I'm one of the only people who has ever seen the few Road Runner cartoons where Wily speaks.

And I always liked Sylvester better than Tweety. Of course, I'm a cat person, so go figure.... :)
alex_victory From: alex_victory Date: November 15th, 2002 06:07 am (UTC) (Link)
Nah, I've seen 'em too. I love the ending... "Hi, my name is mud." "And remember kids, mud spelled backwards is DUMB!"

I used to use that line all the time on my MUDing friends at college.
komos From: komos Date: November 16th, 2002 07:00 am (UTC) (Link)
Nah, I remember those distinctly. I agree with Drew that talking Wiley was best paired against Bugs.

Still, I like him with the signs he pulled from behind his back just as something terrible was about to happen. There was something very powerful about the forlorn expression paired with a silent "Yikes!" just before he fell of another cliff.
(Deleted comment)
khourytamarisk From: khourytamarisk Date: November 15th, 2002 07:52 am (UTC) (Link)

My childhood must have already been over the first time I saw a Road Runner cartoon... I've always cheered for Wily...

Of course, my perverted sense of humor still makes me laugh when he gets smashed by a rock or something thereby, but I still feel bad for him.
komos From: komos Date: November 16th, 2002 07:01 am (UTC) (Link)
Was it kind of like cheering for Vader in Star Wars?
riverbank From: riverbank Date: November 15th, 2002 04:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
i once had a 'the birds' dream with tweetie in place of crows. he's always seemed the essence of maliciousness with his taunting and mocking cackle.
komos From: komos Date: November 16th, 2002 07:02 am (UTC) (Link)

Now that's what I'm talkin' about!
11 comments or Leave a comment