Saturday, 16 May 2015

Looney Tune Psychology

Walt Disney got most of the publicity when it came to animated cartoons—first Mickey, then Flowers and Trees, then Pigs, then Snow White, then Fantasia, then the combo features. But he didn’t get all the attention.

Here’s a short unbylined piece, likely syndicated, that appeared in the Schenectady Gazette on December 28, 1930. It gives a shout out to the early Looney Tunes cartoons made by Rudy Ising and Hugh Harman. Several had been released by that point; Warner Bros. began advertising them in the trade press in April.

Note that “Bosco” was an acceptable spelling of the character’s name in 1930.

Cartoon Type Of Comedy Has Strong Appeal
The appeal of the cartoon type of comedy has become so universal that it has piqued the curiosity of psychologists as well as of motion picture producers. The explanation of the public liking for cartoon comedies is of an unusual nature.
Leading psychologists declare that people are always interested in anything that acts contrary to the established laws of nature and their own sense of reality. The mystic tricks of magicians always find a ready audience. One must remember that the average layman attends the theater to enjoy the things that take him away, for the time being, from the humdrum happenings of everyday life. By means of animated cartoons, which have become so popular, the artist is able to present situations which by the very nature of their unusualness, enable the audience to lift itself for the moment out of this life into the land of make-believe.
A good example of this is evidenced in the "Looney Tunes" series of Vitaphone song cartoons. In one of the releases, Bosco, the central cartoon figure, whistles for his auto which comes running to him to the tune of a popular song. In still another of the series is shown a brute of a hippopotamus rendering popular selections on a guitar. The "Looney Tunes" cartoons are devised by Hugh Harman and Rudolf Ising with a special musical arrangement by Frank Marsales.
The cartoonist is allowed great opportunity for imaginative skill. The more unusual the antics of his characters, the better chance for success the attraction has. The element of impossibility and surprise in animated cartoons is a feature greatly appreciated by audiences. Added to the highly amusing though impossible situations, the use of music and sound effects, well synchronized, have probably done more to popularize the cartoons than any other factor.
The increasing popularity of the "Looney Tunes" series as well as other animated cartoons of like nature, bears out the contention of psychologists and the experience of exhibitors that the antics of cartoon characters are relished by the public because of the element of surprise, due to their improbabilities, and the amusing manner of their presentation.

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