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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Cartoon A-holes: Part 1 - The Runners-Up

The cartoon landscape is littered with assholes.  For every good-natured goofball, pretty-pretty princess, friendly monster and anthropomorphic hero mouse—or, simply put, the traditional four types of animated characters according to science—there are a gaggle of a-holes waiting in the wings to muck everything up.  But who is the king—or queen!—of the hundreds of animated asswipes that populate our television screens, movie theaters and funny pages?  Who is 'top dog'—and it isn’t necessarily a dog; that isn’t a clue or a spoiler—when it comes to cartoon assholery? Well, I’ve done the research and I know, but first, how about a look at a few of the characters whose head’s I considered presenting with the infamous Crown of Assholes, which is not a physical crown, but more of an idea.  And what a hilarious idea it is, no?  Can you imagine a crown made of human assholes?  Or cat assholes?  Or dog?  Those are the only varieties of assholes I’m familiar with, I’m afraid.  The idea is funny regardless.  Anyway, here are the runners-up.
1. Pete (AKA Peg-Leg Pete, Big Bad Pete): I’m not familiar with how Pete was portrayed in the Goof Troop television series from the early-90’s, because I didn’t watch that program, so maybe he was more of a loudmouth or a blowhard as opposed to a straight up asshat.  I am, however, intimately familiar with his antics in the Disney shorts of the 30’s and 40’s, as these are the cartoons me and my daughter watch and enjoy regularly.  My two-year-old doesn’t notice this—because she is two and shouldn’t have to think of such things yet—but Pete is super rapey in these old cartoons (Mickey can get a little “handsy” too, I’m not gonna lie.).  Pete is always pawing at Minnie and lifting up her dress.  It’s sick.
One of Q and my favorite Mickey Mouse cartoons is called “Mr. Mouse Takes a Trip” (1940).  The plot is pretty simple: Mickey and Pluto are headed to Pomona for vacation, but dogs aren’t allowed on the train.  Pete is the mean-spirited conductor who gives Mickey a bunch of unnecessary attitude, and then chases the mouse and his dog—once it is discovered that Mickey has snuck Pluto onboard—all over the train in a murderous rage.  Wackiness, predictably, ensues.  Q and I have watched this cartoon roughly 50,000 times.
Now, sure, Mickey is breaking the rules.  Dogs aren’t allowed on the train, yet he’s snuck Pluto on. It is, one might argue, Pete’s job to maintain order on the train.  But the joy he takes in torturing Mickey is completely unnecessary.  But funny.  And of course Pete gets his comeuppance.  He always gets his comeuppance.  Whether it’s being shot in the butt with white hot bolts and dropped into a vat of cement (“Building A Building,” 1933); being beaten mercilessly by two unseen biddies he keeps sexually harassing by accident (the aforementioned “Mr. Mouse Takes a Trip”); or has his tree lot burned to the ground after his attempt to bilk a poor family out of their Christmas budget is thwarted by the archetypal hero mouse (“Mickey and Minnie’s The Gift of the Magi,” 1999).
2. Slimer: Look, I’m not a heartless hater-of-fun, so, somebody please tell me, what is the appeal of Slimer?  What purpose did he serve on The Real Ghostbusters cartoon?  Comic relief?  Maybe, but he wasn’t very funny.  I watched The Real Ghostbusters religiously, and I never enjoyed Slimer. Of course I drank Ecto Cooler, but not because Slimer adorned the box, but because it was delicious.  Slimer was always flying around, blurppling in that dumb language of his (He was a ghost, right?  It is my understanding that ghosts are the lonely, wandering spirits of dead human beings.  What was Slimer when he was alive?  I’ve got a theory or two, but all of them are much too dark for this blog, which I’ve always considered a place for families to gather together and enjoy themselves.  Fine.  I’ll share one theory.  Slimer is the ghost of a dead piece of poop.  Trust me.  You don’t want to hear the other one.) and slathering his ectoplasm all over Peter Venkman, my favorite character in the Ghostbusters universe, animated or otherwise. 
Slimer is an asshole mostly because he is annoying and he gets in the way.  And whenever there was an episode with a Slimer-centric plotline, I lost interest pretty fast.

Check out this collection of total assholes.

3. The entire Archie gang: It’s easy to single out Reggie as the biggest asshole in Riverdale because he’s always coming up with schemes to make Archie Andrews look like an idiot or Veronica because she’s a frigid one-percenter, but in all honesty, every denizen of Riverdale High—with the exception of Betty, sweet blonde door mat that she is—has played the part of the asshole throughout the years.  Archie, with his wavering alliances to the women in his life, would drop Betty in an instant if Veronica showed even a modicum of interest in his ginger ass, or vice versa if Betty baked him a pan of brownies or something; Big Moose disguising his penchant towards violence for simple-minded “aw shucks, I don’t know what I’m doing because I’m a dum-dum” hucksterism; Mr. Lodge with his obvious hatred for the poor; and Jughead, who would rather binge on hamburger sandwiches then give Big Ethel a fighting chance to win his heart.
Can I get off on a tangent real quick?  What is it with cartoons always pairing up the characters that resemble each other?  I mean, Big Ethel is basically Jughead with a wig and rabbit teeth.  There’s no wonder why Jughead isn’t interested.  Jughead isn’t an attractive or stylish man (Nice crown, asshole!), but throw a mop of black hair on him and shove some novelty bunny choppers in his mouth and, voila, you get something even more abhorrent.  It’s the same with the Van Houtens on The Simpsons.  It’s no secret that they look like brother and sister and that their son demonstrates the oddness one often associates, possibly unfairly, with incestuous coupling.  I’m sure there are other examples.  You don’t see a lot of that in the non-animated world.  Take my wife and I.  She’s a beautiful Korean woman and I’m a stocky balding man in my mid-30’s writing an online journal post about cartoons.  And I get sex on the reg, son!  HIGH FIVE!
But, yeah, Riverdale is full of assholes.  (Not you, Betty.)
4. Garfield: Garfield has the distinction of being a total asshole across several different platforms (comic strips, TV, movies, motivational posters, nightgowns my little sister wore, etc).  This dog-kicking, lasagna-hording, mailman-torturing, Arbuckle-insulting, spider-crushing, Mondayphobic dickface has been assholing it up for years and, frankly, I’m sick of his crap!  Why won’t you die, Garfield?!?  You’ve hurt so many people!  When will it stop.
5. Bugs Bunny:  Yeah.  I went there.  I don’t like Bugs Bunny.  Sorry, guys, but I don’t.  In fact—get ready for this revelation, unless you’ve been my friend for several years and had the misfortune of hearing me talk about this on multiple occasions—I don’t care for the Looney Tunes en masse.  I like Daffy Duck (OBVIOUSLY!), but I’m pretty uninterested in the rest of it.  And Bugs Bunny is the worse.  If I hadn’t found a bigger asshole (or assholes?) then Bugs in my search, we’d be discussing how he’s the biggest jerk-off in cartoon history right this very second.  Bugs Bunny has manipulated so many people into violent acts of gun violence, it isn’t funny.  He’s deceived and cross-dressed his way into the pantheon of  the biggest cartoon assholes of all time.  Should’ve taken a left turn at Albequerque, huh?  Why don’t you take a long left turn off a short pier into a sea of used hypodermic needles, Bugs, you carrot-chomping wisenheimer.
Believe it or not, there is a bigger asshole than Bugs Bunny in the cartoon world.  Do you know who it is or they are?  I’d love to hear your thoughts either in the comments or on our Facebook page (Did you know we had one of those?  You can ‘like’ it and everything!).  I will reveal the answer and go into excruciating detail as to how I made my decision next week.  I hope you’ll join me.  Until then, screw you, Garfield!

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