Left this on a comment at another blog, but it basically repeats something I wrote on FB when it happened:
I’ve got all of the Looney Tunes golden collections (then hunted on youtube the rest until they get officially released), though from there I ripped them all into individual ones I can shuffle so it is more like what Saturday Morning (when the BB-RR Show was 90 minutes long) was like when I was a kid. Thus, I’m already selective of which ones I’ll include, leaving most of the black-and-whites and some of the Tex Avery’s and Bob Clampett’s out.
One thing that bothered me is their repeat of gags that really just weren’t funny. It isn’t just that they were wrong (though they were), it is that they weren’t funny. Especially when they were totally out of theme of the rest of the material.
Case in point, a bit totally not in the original book of Dr. Seuss’s Horton Hatches the Egg, that Clampett added to the 1942 cartoon – at one point as the boat crosses the ocean to take him to the circus, a fish sees it, goes “now I’ve seen everything”, and quickly pulls out a revolver from nowhere and blows his head off. I’d forgotten it was there, as it had been cut from syndicated versions since the late 80s so Cartoon Network’s broadcasts never had it.
And it all happened faster than I could react to stopping it before my 3 year old daughter basically saw her first on-screen suicide (her first on-screen death was the dinosaurs in Fantasia, but I was there to talk her through that *before* it happened, making it clear that not all dinosaurs are nice like Buddy and Mr. Conductor ;-) ). The most I could do was repeat “it’s not funny” a few times and then start talking about the plot as it took over from there, because it’s true. It isn’t funny.
It is a gag that the Termite Terrace used at least a dozen times in those early years, and it has never been funny. I honestly have no idea why they thought it was funny enough to keep repeating over and over, and worse still, stick it into a Dr. Seuss work where it absolutely didn’t belong.
No wonder (besides the war and a few other projects) it would be more than two decades before Seuss was willing to let someone animate his work again.
In any case, not every aspect of the Termite Terrace years is bad because of stereotyped racism, or overt sexuality. Silly gun violence is one thing, but un-funny suicides are something different and deserve just as much a warning as the rest.