Al Batt: What I learned from television cartoons

Published 8:59 pm Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Tales From Exit 22 by Al Batt

Cartoons are funny. They make us laugh.

Oh, sure, there is that one crusty curmudgeon who growls at them, but we’re going to ignore him. Haters gonna hate.

Email newsletter signup

Cartoons are educational, too.

Bugs Bunny, known for his catchphrase, “What’s up, Doc?” taught us to eat carrots. He and Elmer Fudd gave us an appreciation of classical music and opera.

Charlie Brown, the kid who was less popular than his dog, had an unrequited crush on the Little Red-Haired Girl and never got to kick a football, taught us to never give up. Hope springs eternal.

The school lunch program I’m the most familiar with fed us spinach. It came in large cans and was an unnatural color of green. It was good for us and we should have eaten it, but most of the spinach went directly from food trays into the garbage. Popeye taught us that it was wise to eat spinach. The sailor proclaimed, “That’s all I can stands, ’cause I can’t stands no more!” Then he’d eat a can of spinach that gave him the strength to dispatch a villain.

Wile E. Coyote couldn’t catch a roadrunner, but he never gave up, no matter how many defective Acme gadgets he’d purchased. If he had enough money to pay Acme, why didn’t he just order a roadrunner pizza or pot pie? Wile E. Coyote taught us that if we leaped from a cliff, we could run on air as long as we didn’t look down.

Rocky the flying squirrel and Bullwinkle the moose were a classic comedy duo. Bullwinkle taught us that it was all right for us to be dimwitted about something as long as we’re good-natured.

Dudley Do-Right, a Canadian Mountie who had a habit of riding a horse backwards, spent his time trying to catch his chief nemesis, Snidely Whiplash, and rescuing a damsel in distress, Nell Fenwick. Dudley taught us that doing things differently from others, like riding a horse backwards, wasn’t the worst thing.

Daffy Duck taught us that a screwball could be loveable.

The exceptionally nearsighted Mr. Magoo wouldn’t admit he had a problem with his eyesight. He taught us that if we don’t admit our problems, we’re just asking for more problems.

The Jetsons were a space-age family that gave us false hopes for flying cars. That taught us that predicting the future is nigh impossible.

The Pink Panther, best known by his theme composed by Henry Mancini, taught us that actions speak louder than words.

Underdog began as a pitchman for General Mills cereals. He battled evildoers Simon Bar Sinister and Riff Raff, and wooed his love, Polly Purebread. He was fond of saying, “Not bird, nor plane, nor even frog, it’s just little old me — Underdog.“ He taught us to be ourselves.

Heckle and Jeckle, a pair of magpies, taught us to deal with difficulties with wit and style.

Yosemite Sam taught us that it wasn’t a good idea to call anyone a varmint.

Sylvester the cat taught us that “sufferin’ succotash” was a perfectly good expletive.

Tweety, by saying, “Poor Puddy Tat!” taught us empathy.

The scheming Top Cat taught us to be confident.

Yogi Bear was smarter than the average bear. That gave us something to shoot for.

“Here I come to save the day!” sang Mighty Mouse. Mighty Mouse kept Mouseville safe from the villain, Oil Can Harry. Mighty Mouse taught us to come to the rescue. I hate to admit it, but I sing his song while setting mousetraps.

Mr. Peabody and Sherman taught us that it’s a good idea for an ordinary child to have an extraordinary dog. That’s a good idea for an ordinary adult, too.

Donald Duck had an astounding faculty for vexation. He taught us that it was OK not to wear pants as long as we wore shirts.

Quick Draw McGraw taught us that we should give it proper thought before saying that we’d do all of the thinking around here.

Woody Woodpecker’s famous attribute was his loud cackle. He taught us to laugh more.

Foghorn Leghorn taught us to pay attention when someone was talking to us.

George of the Jungle swung on vines and slammed into trees while accompanied by his theme song, “George, George, George of the Jungle. Watch out for that tree!” Good advice for downhill skiers.

Pepe Le Pew, the skunk that was forever enamored with a cat, taught us that if we’re in love, nothing else matters.

And lastly, Porky Pig taught us to say, “That’s all folks!”

Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday and Sunday.