By Emily Mullen
US Conservatives have gotten their knickers in a twist over whether this Looney Tunes character shows her midriff or not.
It would be concerning if a modern remake of a 1990s kid’s film did not move with the times. But Space Jam’s alterations to some of the 25-year-old film characters have certainly hit some sore points for many. The first look at Space Jam: A New Legacy due for release in July has caused another twist in the ongoing online culture war. The most painful point for Conservatives is undoubtedly the de-sexualization of the Tune Squad’s point guard Lola Bunny. Who, just to drive the message home, is a cartoon bunny.
When we first meet her in the 1996s original Space Jam film, Bunny is wearing figure-hugging athletic shorts and a suggestively cropped top. Shimming around the basketball court with a burlesque-like silhouette which leaves Bugs Bunny head over heels at the sight of her. Her hypersexualized appearance and the endless ogling of it, undermine her abilities on the court and despite her catchphrase being “don’t ever call me ‘Doll'”, characters continue to do just that. Needless to say, this hypersexualization of her appearance and the impact this had on her character arc was a confusing element for all the kids watching at home to wrap their heads around.
The concept of a cartoon rabbit becoming a sex symbol in a children’s film is a complex one to unpack. Some of it can be explained through the character’s own development, which began as a strong talented athlete and then was developed into a hyper-feminine being after executives worried, the character was coming across as too masculine. Space Jam’s animation director Tony Cervone was reportedly wary of making her too “masculine” so offset this by pumping “her up more in the feminine attributes department”. The concept that a female character couldn’t just be strong and talented had to be desired in order for her to be validated as a character, is, to say the least, a strange attitude to have for a kids movie. But some of it belies the pervasive culture of 1990s films that women can appear liberated, but not too liberated.
25 year’s on Bunny’s appearance looks a lot more normal, well as normal as a basketballing bunny can be. She’s been donned in a standard basketball jersey, the same one worn by the rest of her team. Her shorts are now full-length and her buxom silhouette has been sanded down to a slightly more normal shape.
Space Jam 2’s director Malcolm D. Lee noted in his interview with Entertainment Weekly that it’s not just Bunny’s appearance that has changed in the upcoming film, “we reworked a lot of things, not only her look, like making sure she had an appropriate length on her shorts and was feminine without being objectified, but gave her a real voice. For us, it was, ‘Let’s ground her athletic prowess, her leadership skills, and make her as full a character as the others,” he said.
Bunny’s transition from one of the most sexualized anthropomorphized figures in cartoon history to a normal cartoon character has certainly led to many grumbles online. Many claiming that this is another example of how the left ruin everything and that Bunny’s transformation is the corroding of yet more homegrown American values.
The inclusion of a sexy character in a kids’ film is a weird one. Prepubescent kids wouldn’t get it, so who would the character appeal to only adults? Which in itself is strange. Whoever was the intended target for Bunny’s sex appeal was, it certainly landed a substantial and dedicated following. This taps into a much stranger element to this story, the carnal attraction that people have for the cartoon, that as attested by this traumatizing and lengthy Reddit thread entitled LolaBunnyNSFW is clearly there. People genuinely seem to fancy a cartoon rabbit.
The raw emotion clearly felt towards the cartoon, was clearly demonstrated when her character was pivoted. The reflexive action of many of her fans was to blame the left for their PC-ness. Genuinely believing that the liberals have put pressure on Warner Bros on this character’s representation, that they demanded a reduction to Bunny’s double-D and covering up her exposed midriff. Instead of maybe considering that the world has moved on a bit, from frothy fluffy bunnies. This like so many other ridiculous things has become a political issue. By changing this decade-old character into a more PC version, the left has allegedly won again, and for that Lola Bunny has now been canceled and battle lines drawn over a children’s film.
Discussing Bunny’s character transformation in his podcast called Highly Respected, a former editor at the right-wing Daily Caller, Scott Greer says “I truly know the depths of human sorrow,” while he queries what else “they” will go for next now that “nothing is safe”. In his since removed tweet, Greer wrote “First they came for Mr. Potato head and I said nothing…”
This pivot from a strange manifestation of a female rabbit to a normal cartoon character has been a lot for some online to take:
The left destroys everything!— Harper 🇺🇸🇺🇸 (@Harp_5A) March 5, 2021
Surprised she doesn’t have blue ears, a nose piercing and an antifa tat— Martin Wellbourne (@WellbourneM) March 5, 2021
Went from a dime to a tarnished penny.— Shaun (@deplorabletex5) March 5, 2021
Libs ruin everything.— Scarlett Letter (@luvznolz82) March 5, 2021
She became a democrat.— Guzin (@ThatGirlGuzin) March 5, 2021
What was the original point though? I mean a lot more money was spent to animate the movie.— Charlie Vinson (@Twittykitty78) March 5, 2021
How this latest bout of the ongoing culture war against fictional characters will go is unknown. But it’s probably for the best that the next generation of Looney Tunes fans aren’t wondering why all the Space Jam characters on the court are treating Bunny so strangely. Hopefully, they just pass her the ball and let her get on with it.
Elsewhere on District: Yes the title of Elizabeth Banks’s new film is actually Cocaine Bear