What a rabbit is Bugs Bunny

Cartoon : Bugs Bunny: The world's most famous rabbit turns 80

Berlin - Everyone knows this cartoon rabbit from the Warner Bros. Studios. In total, Bugs Bunny appeared in well over 150 cartoons, he even won an Oscar, and of course he can also book a star on the Walk of Fame for himself. It is July 1940, when the carrot-eating biped was seen in the cinemas for the first time in the form we know today in the animated short film “A Wild Hare” (German title: “Die Hasenfalle”).

As early as 1934, however, Warner competitor Walt Disney had presented Max Hare in the film "The Tortoise and the Hare", a rather similar looking bastard. According to the motto "better copied than badly invented", director Frederick Bean "Tex" Avery showed six years later in the "rabbit trap" how Bugs Bunny makes life difficult for the merciless and hapless hunter Elmer Fudd. An elaborately constructed rabbit trap with a centered carrot, for example, only catches a skunk, and when Fudd shoots the rabbit, it first dies a theatrical death, but then jumps up again a short time later and hops away. Maddening!

Nobody is as cheeky as Bugs, nobody can eat carrots as cool as he can. And for everything he still has a saying ready, his "What's up, Doc?" (German: "Is' what? What is going on, Doc?") With a typical New York Bronx-Brooklyn accent became a popular phrase in America . The smart rabbit routinely used the sentence to greet the respective opponent.

In addition to Warner's careless handling of Disney's intellectual property, there were also borrowings from the screwball comedy "It Happened in One Night" with Clark Gable. The way Bugs Bunny nibbles his carrots is very reminiscent of the main character's eating habits. In 1938 the hare first appeared as an unnamed extra in Ben Hardaway's "Porky’s Hare Hunt".

Due to Hardaway's nickname "Bugs", the character was internally called "Bugs’ Bunny ", which ultimately became the name of the rodent (without an apostrophe), ie" Bugs Rabbit ". Whether the figure is really a hare or a rabbit remains to be seen. The length of the ears and the slim appearance speak for a hare, but the white breast is more the characteristic of a rabbit.

Avery, whose motto was “Anything is possible in a cartoon”, showed, with the help of the cartoonist Chuck Jones, many of the gags that would make Bugs Bunny a favorite character of several generations. “The Rabbit Trap” was released as part of the Warner Bros. series “Merrie Melodies”, and Bugs Bunny also became a star in “Looney Tunes”, which was later produced.

The Texan Avery, who died in 1980, played like no other with the possibilities of animation and pushed the genre to its limits with ludicrous exaggerations. In his films, characters run through the opening or closing credits, suddenly stop to speak to the audience (“Exciting, isn't it?”) Or air the screen on a corner and look into the next scene. Avery, who was already active as a draftsman in high school, set a crazy pace in strange situations and lit a firework of absurd gags. In doing so, he exhausted the genre to its limits and shaped it significantly.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) had the animated cat and mouse duo Tom & Jerry by Hanna and Barbera in its program since February 1940, Disney was successful with Mickey Mouse and the Warner Bros. animation studios relied on Bugs Bunny. At that time it was for Warner and MGM to stand up to the overwhelming competition from Disney at any price.

From 1960 the Warner cartoons for television were put together for the series “The Bugs Bunny Show” (German title: “Bugs Bunny und seine Kumpane”, later also as “Bugs Bunny - Mein Name ist Hase”): “This is the big one , colorful bunny show and we're all there… ”. Warner gradually established other cartoon characters such as Daffy Duck, Sylvester and Tweety, Willy Koyote, Roadrunner, Speedy Gonzales, Piggy Dick, the rooster Foghorn Leghorn or the little goshawk Henry. By 1969, a total of more than 1000 seven-minute animated films had been made.

Avery, who also invented the lisping Daffy Duck, helped the rabbit with the distinctive front teeth and white gloves to a steep career. It was not limited to films like "Knighty Knight Bugs", which won an Oscar in the category "Best Animated Short Film" in 1959, or the feature film "Wrong Game with Roger Rabbit" from 1988. In addition to basketball star Michael Jordan, Bugs also starred in 1996 "Space Jam" and 2003 in "Looney Tunes: Back in Action". These are real films combined with cartoon scenes.

In contrast to other comic characters like the duck Donald or the tomcat, who are typical losers, Bugs seldom gets the short straw. The shrewd rabbit often gets into conflict situations through no fault of his own, but he often catches his opponents on the wrong foot and so skillfully defends himself against all hostility. The "smart ass" credo is: "My name is Rabbit, I know."

After Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny was only the second cartoon character to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1985. Today the lanky long-eared figure has become an indispensable part of film and pop culture. In the credits of his short films he sings: "The audience was wonderful again today, and the final chord in minor sounds sad ... the show has to go on, goodbye! ... That's all, folks. "

By the way: until August 12, Super RTL will broadcast several episodes with Bugs Bunny and his Looney Tunes at different starting times between 10:35 a.m. and 6:35 p.m. The Super RTL offshoot Toggo plus shows the program with a time delay of one hour; the station can be received via satellite and cable.