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August 1994


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Joseph Adam Milutis <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 20 Aug 1994 17:39:47 -0500
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
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I don't know went on when "subliminal backgrounds" was a new discussion,
but what has been intriguing me since last fall was the Fox TV slot from
3:30 to 5:OO:_Tiny Toons_, _Animaniacs_, and _Batman, The Animated
Series_.  I
was turned onto the first one, because I had heard Henry Jenkins say that
he used it for his classes as a perfect illustration of Baktin's (sp?)
concept of intertextuality.  _Looney Tunes_ were always something that
everyone has said: yeah, I liked them as a kid, but you found out what they
really meant when you grew up (and grew more literate with the history of
30s and 40s Hollywood and its films).  _Tiny Toons_, by  referring to
something that was already laden with references (_Looney Tunes_), induces a
kind of
pleasureful vertigo because you say to yourself "my god, I don't believe
I'm understanding this."  American popular entertainment is paradoxically
cryptic and a mass entertainment; I know the contours of the toons so
well, yet they stike me often in their pure hieroglyphic nature.  Without
the references it
would be colors and animals and violence  (but of course, what do I mean by
 "without the references" that utopian condition?) that have nothing to
do with any possible concept of "local" experience of life and language.
        _Animaniacs_, though, takes the whole intertextual thing further,
even further.  Animaniacs have existed, so the story goes, since the
30's, but have been locked up in the water tower at Warner Bros.
intermittently since, and thus have been unable to become the stars they are.
So _Animaniacs_ not only refers to present and past Hollywood film industry
constantly, but reweaves its characters into both, fictionally, enforcing
upon the viewer their timelessness and power (and hegemonic power over
the globe too, one could, darkly, say;  either they parody
Mickey Mouse, or want
to be like Mick, with Yacko, Whacko, and Dot appearing--if not on the WB
lot--in the new Europe, the new Soviet Union, and all across the new
world order).
        [The very first episode of _Animaniacs_ began with cartoon versions
of Siskell and Ebert reviewing a laser disc(!) of "classic" Warner Bros
cartoons.  The figures of Elmer, Daffy, Bugs, etc. were on the cover of
the disc _and_
another character-- Slappy Squirrel-- who immediately stikes us as odd in
this line up.  Cut to Slappy watching the tube as Siskell&Ebert wax gooey
over the laser compilation.  Yet when they get to the performance of
Slappy (which we are simultaneously viewing for the first time), they pan
it ruthlessly, causing Slappy to blow up the homes of the critics.
Anybody have any ideas about this scenario and its relation to the topic,
your work as "critics" (although I wouldn't normally use that word with
S&Ebert), and works whose meat and potatoes are intextuality (after all
aren't these the ones that are called postmodern?)]
        _Batman_, of course, comes to mind because of the plethora of
previous incarnations, but I think once you get to a certain point, those
previous incarnations cause a pleasureful decadence; The Animated Series
also references Hollywood itself quite abit.
Joe Milutis