Last week it was the Macarena, this week it’s another precious gem that lives deep in my subconscious – the show Tiny Toons.
More specifically, one single musical skit in one random episode of Tiny Toons from 1995. Where Babs Bunny is trying to get Buster Bunny to go to the Sadie Hawkins dance with her, but she’s worried he’s going to turn her down after he says “MAYBE.” The animation is set alongside the 1964 jazz song “In His Kiss” by Betty Everett, covered by CHER. This song, paired with the visual below, burrowed so deep into the fibers of my hippocampus that it haunts me to this day.
To a 4-5 year old who does nothing but watch cartoons, I can see why this would attract a child’s eye. Flashing graphics, sexual undertones, a captivating sense of desperation. The references alone are enough to change someone’s perception of love and relationships forever.
The Bride Of Frankenstein
A lot to unpack here. The Bride of Frankenstein is a great story with too many complicated surnames to get into, but the gist is this – The Bride was created, took one look at Frankenstein and said ABSOLUTELY NOT. Frankenstein got so butt hurt by her rejection that he blew up the tower and murder suicided. So, what Tiny Toons is telling us here, is that Babs wants to tell Buster how she really feels – BUT, she’s worried if she does, he’s going to blow the place up and kill them both. Got it.
King Kong/Ann Darrow
Okay, in this scenario we have Babs viewing Buster as King Kong, and she’s his boo thang Ann Darrow. King Kong is, of course, the man/gorilla who scooped her out of harms way and placed her gently atop one of New York City’s most famous landmarks. Conveniently, her new boyfriend is also the only person who can bring her DOWN. So, she waits patiently for Buster to reach out and save her (say yes to the dance). If he doesn’t, she will PROBABLY DIE. Hmmm. Seems dramatic.
Super Man/ Lois Lane
More “damsel in distress” rhetoric from Babs here, putting Buster on a pedestal like he’s Superman. In this scene, she’s afraid if he drops her (says no) she will PLUMMET TO THE EARTH FROM OUTER SPACE. Important to note that Superman (Buster) is mostly unfazed as she falls and does almost nothing to save her. Yea, we’re going there. #FUCKBUSTER
Ariel and Prince Eric
We’re pivoting to physical insecurities with this one. Babs, turning now into Ariel (otherwise known as The Little Mermaid to those who aren’t as close to her) is pictured in shapely silhouette, beckoning Buster (Prince Eric) over to her. She gets in his boat, covers her face with her hair so he can’t really see her, and once he gets a GLIMPSE OF THAT MUG he literally goes overboard. What if he says no to the dance because she’s ugly???
The Phantom Of The Opera/Christine
No children’s cartoon metaphor about a girl asking a guy out would be complete without highlighting intimidating relationships, such as the Phantom of the Opera. The Phantom is Christine’s music teacher with a god complex. He refers to himself as The Angel Of Music, but in reality he’s just a man with a facial deformity that lives inside of the hidden dungeons of an old opera house in Paris who murders people who call him a monster. Christine tries endlessly to prove that she does not view him as a monster, but obviously it’s an emotionally abusive relationship and she acts like she’s in a trance the whole time. What did we learn? Babs is afraid to get murdered by Buster, if he were to not believe that she thinks HE is handsome.
George H. W Bush and Barbara Bush
Okay, nowwwww I know what’s going on here. I have reached the realization, 25+ years later. I’ve gotten so woke, I now can see. This entire video was a COMPLETE troll job on Men by the writers. It has nothing to do with kids, it has nothing to do with the actual plot of the episode (which was likely released pre-1992, I probably just saw a playback of it) – it’s a MEN ARE TRASH commercial. George and Barbara Bush were the final nails in the coffin, another “man in power vs a woman who is probably better than he is,” during a hot election time. That last easy joke slid in there to make sure we think men are FOOLS.
I’ve even enlisted the help of a Man Friend for further analyzing:
I’m pretty blown away by my friend’s analysis here. Clearly it’s not just me seeing these *glaring* undertones. What if all of the young girls who watched Tiny Toons took this seriously, and not in the camp-y way it was supposed to be taken? What if they truly understood all of the references to romantic stories that are all pretty problematic? I was already memorizing the sheet music for Phantom by age 3, so I can only imagine the effect it may have had on my peers.
A shame really. Such artistic genius, one that would likely become a trend on every app available, if only it were released today. Instead, Tiny Toons has to sleep at night with the thought that they’ve possibly ruined an entire generation of women when it comes to relationships, by scaring them into thinking that rejection will lead you to death.
Makes you think.