Looney Tunes ditches guns for its modern relaunch – but dynamite and scythes are still allowed | Ents & Arts News

There might be scythes and explosives aplenty, but characters in the latest series of Looney Tunes have been banned from using guns.

New episodes of the classic cartoon have been released for the launch of the HBO Max streaming service in the US, hoping to introduce a new generation of fans to the adventures of Bugs Bunny and pals.

One staple of the original Warner Bros show, which dates back to the 1930s, was Bugs being hunted down by sworn nemesis Elmer Fudd, who regularly wielded shotguns and rifles.

Guns were also used in jest by other characters, including so-called “suicide gags” that saw characters such as Bugs, Yosemite Sam and the skunk Pepe Le Pew intimate that they were going to shoot themselves.

But now, in response to continued incidents of gun violence in the US, animators have decided not to equip the characters with any firearms in the new incarnation of the show.

Executive producer Peter Browngardt told The New York Times the show would still employ “cartoony violence”, including the use of dynamite, but said: “We’re not doing guns.”

He said the move was part of a bid to modernise the cartoon, adding: “We’re going through this wave of anti-bullying, ‘everyone needs to be friends’, ‘everyone needs to get along’.

“Looney Tunes is pretty much the antithesis of that. It’s two characters in conflict, sometimes getting pretty violent.”

Besides the absence of firearms, the new series of shorts – spanning between and six minutes in length – has been pitched as a faithful tribute to the original show.

Mr Browngardt said: “I always thought, ‘What if Warner Bros had never stopped making Looney Tunes cartoons? As much as we possibly could, we treated the production in that way.”

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Looney Tunes is one of many classic US cartoons to have been updated to reflect modern sensibilities, with some shows having been littered with racial stereotypes and other offensive tropes when they originally aired.

Upon the launch of its Disney+ streaming service, Disney added warnings to films like Peter Pan and Dumbo, advising that they contained “outdated cultural depictions”.

Similar notes added to old Hanna-Barbera cartoons on other streaming platforms have been even more explicit, with episodes of Tom and Jerry flagged for depicting scenes of “racial prejudice”.

That warning says: “Tom and Jerry shorts may depict some ethnic and racial prejudices that were once commonplace in American society. Such depictions were wrong then and are wrong today.”

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