Happened in many Looney Tunes
shorts with surprising frequency. Why? Because the animators and writers didn't have to worry (much) about standards and practices boards (besides The Hays Code
), the cartoons were meant for an audience of adult theatergoers (although, in contrast to modern-day "adult" cartoons, they didn't latch on to gross-out comedy and raunchy sex to get laughsnote
), and even if they did have to worry about indecent content, The Hays Code
officers went after vaguely sexual or subversive content in both live-action and animated movies rather than the stuff that would today be considered plain as the noses on their faces. So, you see, kids: even back then, the censors weren't very bright.
- Throwaway gag in a Speedy Gonzales short: "Speedy knows my sister." "Speedy Gonzales knows everybody's sister!"
- This joke was actually used twice. The second time, the line was "a friend of my sister Carmella."
- Speedy Gonzales is always singing "La Cucaracha." A Bilingual Bonus in that the cockroach of the title is looking for "marijuana por fumar." To smoke.
- The Pepe Le Pew cartoons would qualify (after all, the whole series is a Stealth Pun on men going after pussy...cats), though one Pepe cartoon will make viewers wonder why the Hays Office didn't intervene: 1953's "Wild Over You," in which Pepe's latest feline victim is an escaped wildcat who fights off Pepe by beating him up. The crap that got past the radar is Pepe stating that he liked it.
- Another example was not so much as getting past the radar as the radar was about ten moves behind: During one pursuit, Pepe calls out to Penelope: "You are too tightly wound up! You should try engaging in some recreational activity, like making love!" It wasn't quite so risque a term back then as it is now, but it still qualifies given The Hays Code and its rules on sex in cinema (including verbal implications of it).
- In "What's Cookin', Doc?", one of the films is a "stag reel" (the old name for a porno movie, particularly one that plays as part of the entertainment at a bachelor party or a guys' night out). Since the films are ones Bugs starred in, the implication is that Bugs was a porn star.
- At the beginning in "A Corny Concerto", Porky holds up a sign to the audience saying: "I'M HUNTING THAT @%#& RABBIT!!"
- "Hare Conditioned" has Bugs in drag as a female customer in the shoe department trying to fool the store manager (who wants Bugs mounted and stuffed, having served his purpose as a store window prop). What the manager does following this dialogue would be tantamount to sexual harassment today:
Bugs: I'd like to see something nice in a pair of bedroom slippers.
Manager: Confidentially, so would I!
- "Hollywood Daffy" has Daffy impersonating a studio director fooling the o-fay Joe Besser-like gate cop into thinking he'll make him a star. Daffy examines him and asks "What's Errol Flynn got that you haven't got?" before interjecting, "Don't answer that!" So what does Errol Flynn have that the studio cop doesn't? Apparently, a statutory rape charge. Flynn was notorious as a ladies' man and was accused of seducing two teenaged girls a couple of years prior to the cartoon's premiere. Flynn was acquitted of all charges.
- "A Gruesome Twosome" features a pair of alley cats, one a Jimmy Durante-like guy, the other a mostly silent deadpan, both after Tweety. At one point they're disguised in a two-man horse costume. The Durante cat pulls off his headpiece and tells us "I'm the horse's head!", which of course makes the other guy the horse's ass.
- In "Bewitched Bunny", after Bugs turns Witch Hazel into a female rabbit, he turns to the camera and remarks, "Ah, sure, I know, but aren't they all witches inside?" That line was actually the subject of controversy in Canada, of all places, for being misogynistic (and yet, America — which has Moral Guardians by the boatload going after every little thing and chipping away at what's supposed to be fun and entertaining, regardless of age — did nothing about it). The case in Canada was dropped after a few days.
- In the original theatrical release of "Devil's Feud Cake", when Satan first sees Yosemite Sam, he says to him, "Well, who in Hell are you?".
- In "Book Revue", one of the books is Cherokee Strip (a then-popular Marquis James memoir about his boyhood in turn-of-the-century Oklahoma), but the cover has a picture of an Indian girl in revealing clothing accompanied by cheers and wolf whistles.
- In "The Draft Horse", they sneaked in the old marching song "You're in the army now" on an eyesight test, which featured the verse "you'll never get rich/you son of a bitch" (written so small it's almost illegible without pausing).
- In one Road Runner short, Wile E. Coyote's Canis Latinicus scientific name was given as "Hardheadipus oedipus", i.e. hard-headed motherfucker. Meanwhile, the Road Runner's Canis Latinicus scientific name was given as "Batoutahelius".
- A surprising example in a much later Looney Tunes cartoon is in "Bunny and Claude", where at one point as the Bonnie and Clyde-esque gangster rabbit duo that only steals carrots is trying to evade the sheriff, Bunny says to Claude "I just want to tell you that there's a..." and whispers inaudibly. Claude then turns to her and says "Is that all you ever think about? ...Carrots?"
- A prop used in several cartoons was the tall cylindrical trash can on wheels, with the initials "D.S.C." on the side. In real life, these were used (before automobiles were common) by the Department of Street Cleaners, whose job was to patrol the streets and clean up horse manure. Used as a Literal Metaphor in "Drip-Along Daffy", where Daffy claims, "I told you I'd clean up this one-horse town!"
Porky: Lucky for him, this is a one-horse town.
- Here's one that's still rarely edited out. In "People Are Bunny", Bugs gets a call from a call-in quiz show where he has to answer a question to win a prize. The question is a very complicated multiplication problem, which he successfully answers in about a second. (In his head.) When the host asks him how he answered so quickly, his response?
Bugs: Well, if it's one thing us rabbits can do, it's multiply.
- In "A Tale of Two Kitties", cats Babbit and Catstello (cartoon versions of Abbott and Costello) are trying to catch Tweety Bird in his nest. Babbit's plan: send Catstello up a giant ladder to raid the nest. Catstello, unfortunately, is afraid of heights, but Babbit forces him up anyway. Once Catstello is at the top, Babbit hollers up at him from the bottom of the ladder.
Babbit: Give me the bird! GIVE ME THE BIRD!
- In "Birds of a Father", Sylvester tries to shoot a bird, but ends up shooting a prop bird off an old woman's hat, which promts the woman to smack him with her purse. When Junior laments that his father would go to such a low as "shooting a defenseless old lady," Sylvester quips in response "Yeah, as defenseless as a porcupine in a nudist colony."
- At one point in "Rabbit Season", Bugs does his traditional drag gag towards Elmer Fudd (of course), who falls in love with him. When Bugs comes closer to him, Elmer's hat stretches with a "boing" sound. Erm...
- Just after the kiss, Elmer staggers away in Post-Kiss Catatonia and his rifle goes off in Daffy's face.
- "An Itch In Time" has one surprisingly blatant example that somehow waltzed right past the censors: a dog is dragging his itchy butt across a carpet, and pauses to cheerfully comment to the audience "Hey, I'd better cut this out, I may get to like it!"
- The DC comic has Lola (here an employee for Machu Pizza) commenting on one client's...interesting castle.