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Jewish World Review August 5, 2002 / 27 Menachem-Av, 5762

Mark Goldblatt

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Bugs Bunny, one of the leading intellectuals of his time? | The news that Bugs Bunny heads TV Guide's list of Top 50 cartoon characters is welcome, but it fails to acknowledge the waskally wabbit's status as one of the leading intellectuals of his time.

For example, after caging a runaway circus lion, Bugs turns to the captive beast and says, "Iron bars do not a prison make . . . but they sure help, eh, doc?" This one-sentence demolition of postmodernism is the first and final riposte to a half century of Continental Thought which insists that reality is a construct of language.

On a less speculative front, Bugs takes on the theory of permissive parenting when he pretends to be the baby of a forlorn mother gorilla. He'll play along, he tells his would-be monkey mom, "But if you're going to chastise me, try psychology." His utter contempt for the concept is evident in the way he pronounces the word itself: Puh-sigh-kology.

In the guise of a fey manicurist, Bugs manages to encapsulate the cult of personality as he dips the furry paws of his pursuer into a dish of fluid: "Monsters are such innnnnteresting people!"

On the subject of conflict resolution: When Yosemite Sam saunters up to him in a Western saloon and declares, "This town ain't big enough for you and me," Bugs rushes out and builds a bigger town.

And in a nod to both Pirandello and Sophocles, Bugs becomes incensed as he reads aloud the title credits at the beginning of the film Tortoise Beats Hare . . . whereupon he challenges Cecil Turtle to race, setting in motion his own inevitable downfall.

Sure, it's an honor to top a Mickey Mouse list filled with names like Beavis and Butthead, Rocky and Bullwinkle, and Heckle and Jeckle - and there must be a special satisfaction for the bunny to peer down from numero uno and find his pal and occasional rival Daffy Duck at 14.

But if we're going to set Bugs among his proper peers, the names that jump to mind are Jacques Derrida, Benjamin Spock, Al Sharpton, the members of the United Nations General Assembly and the Modern Language Association. I'm certain, in any event, Bugs is pleased by the TV Guide honor. As he might say, "Ah my public . . . how they love me!"

JWR contributor Mark Goldblatt's novel, Africa Speaks , will be published this month. Comment by clicking here.

05/23/02: The SAT's the thing
05/10/02: America's newest victims: Persons of Density
04/25/02: On Being Whiteballed: Why my novel is nowhere near your bookstore
04/11/02: Why profs fear testing
03/31/02: If you cannot attack a position on "straightforward logical grounds," what grounds remain? Welcome to Columbia U
03/21/02: Last week, in case you missed it, was a banner week for cheese
03/01/02: Black History Month distorts accomplishments

© 2002, Mark Goldblatt