Mar 16, 2006

Blame The Builders

Once upon a time, namely five years ago, Looney Tunes could be found on television on a daily basis. Unless you live in America, that statement is still true. For some odd reason, Looney Tunes has disappeared from the Boomerang lineup. The classic Leon Schlesinger/Vitaphone shorts that revolutionized an entire industry and inspired generations to become animators (or at least write about them) are no longer on the air in the United States.

Deservedly, Cartoon Network, the overall broadcaster of all Looney Tunes products, gets the blame from fans of classic animation. Since the creation of Boomerang almost six years ago, all Looney Tunes have migrated to that outlet. Haven't heard of Boomerang? It's alright, a lot of us don't have it. Turner Broadcasting hasn't really pushed the network to cable operators like they've done to their other networks. However, be fair, you can't totally blame the management of Cartoon Network for the shabby treatment of the Looney Tunes library.

I mean, yes, they've done a poor job of managing the property on television. A really, REALLY pisspoor job of managing them. A colossal failure of a job of promoting, airing, and managing them on television. But to solely put the blame on Cartoon Network is like blaming a nail company for a building's collapse. Afterall, Cartoon Network didn't create Looney Tunes nor do they own them (well, the post-48 ones anyway).

Warner Bros. does.

Warner Bros. owns the Looney Tunes characters, elements, and shorts. Warner Bros. is directly responsible for the direction of the characters throughout the world. Warner Bros. has other outlets they could air them, including a broadcast channel in The WB (soon to be The CW). There's no excuse why there isn't a place for Looney Tunes on Kids' WB. There's even an extra hour on the block, so why waste it with reruns that people don't want to watch?

Warner Bros. also could have easily sold broadcast rights to other broadcast outlets, particularly Nickelodeon or even Nicktoons Network. It's funny that of the three major animation outlets in this country (for the record, the three major outlets are Cartoon Network, Toon Disney, and Nicktoons Network and the four minor ones are Boomerang, Animania, Animax [formerly Locomotion in Latin America and some sections of Florida], and The Anime Network), Nicktoons Network is the only one that is 100% animation. They call themselves the Animation Capital of the World, but with the addition of Looney Tunes, that title could easily become a reality. Plus, it's already obvious that Warner Bros. loves Nickelodeon because, well, they're the network they foolishly gave up in the 80s.

Warner Bros. makes "updates" to keep the Looney Tunes characters in the public eye like Duck Dodgers, Baby Looney Tunes, and Loonatics Unleashed. They made a movie featuring the Looney Tunes and did little to nothing to promote them on television aside from the usual commercials (okay, part of that was Cartoon Network's fault too; there could have easily been a marathon the weekend of the premiere). They put them in commercials from time to time to keep nostalgic folks' memories of them alive.

But to actually air them? That's silly and unnecessary. Afterall, they have Loonatics. Isn't that enough?

No, it isn't. Loonatics aren't Looney Tunes. The whole premise of Loonatics is that these are the descendants of older, legendary characters. However, there's an entire generation that doesn't know who these older, legendary characters are. Five year old children today, the post 9/11 generation, are witnesses to a time where Looney Tunes aren't on broadcast television nor even know who they are.

It is kind of sad (at least for Americans) that one of the only places you could see daily showings of Looney Tunes cartoons is on Teletoon in Canada and on Fun Farm on Black Family Channel in the US (weekdays 4 PM EST/PST after The Underdog Show) in a low-res, public domain format. Turner doesn't know how to program, manage, nor market Boomerang, and that's, sadly, the only major outlet that would air them.

I guess they would rather show Baby Looney Tunes instead of grown-up ones.

You can't totally blame the nails. You got to blame the builders too.


Enoch Allen said...

Which reminds me, I've got to get around to posting a few of those Loonatics-skewering articles.

Jorge Garrido said...

Maybe if they didn't show reruns of Dexter's Lab and What's New Scooby-Doo on Boomerang 5 times a day there'd eb room. But then again, Warner Bros. has always done a piss-poor marketing job on their best properites. Iron Giant, anyone?