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Western Animation / Birds Anonymous

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Withdrawl is not fun.

"Birds Anonymous" is a 1957 Looney Tunes cartoon, directed by Friz Freleng, starring Sylvester the Cat and Tweety Bird.

In this animated short, Sylvester is chasing after Tweety, as he always does. He is interrupted by an unnamed cat (later retconned into "Clarence" in Looney Tunes comics), who introduces him to a group called "Birds Anonymous", which consists of cats trying to kick their bird habits. Sylvester pledges sobriety, stating that "birds is strictly for the birds", but falls off the wagon and chases after Tweety again. His sponsor tells him that cats and birds can live together in harmony, and kisses Tweety to prove it—whereupon the sponsor also breaks down and tries to eat Tweety. This time, Sylvester intervenes, and the short ends with Tweety saying, "Like I said before: Once a bad ol' puddy tat, always a bad ol' puddy tat!"

Winner of the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film, it is also included in The 100 Greatest Looney Tunes, amazingly the only cartoon to hold both distinctions. Widely regarded as Friz Freleng's greatest cartoon, Mel Blanc also felt that this was his finest acting performance.

"Birds Anonymous" provides examples of:

  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • Sylvester's sponsor stops him from eating Tweety by filling his mouth with alum (shrinking his mouth as a result).
    • Sylvester himself gets to be one when his sponsor falls off the wagon and tries eating Tweety himself—he grabs the raging cat and holds him down shouting "CONTROL YOURSELF!", giving Tweety time to escape.
  • Bring the Anchor Along: Sylvester handcuffs himself to a radiator to keep himself from getting Tweety. But when he can't restrain his urges any longer, he just charges at Tweety, yanking the radiator off the wall.
    Tweety: Oh, Mr. Puddy Tat... don't you wike me anymore?
    Sylvester: [starting to lose it] I think you're... I think you're... I think you're... [absolutely losing it] DELICIOUS!!!
    [Drooling at the mouth, he rips the radiator out of the wall and grabs Tweety.]
  • Broken Tears: When Sylvester finally admits he has an addiction.
    Sylvester: I can't stand it! I gotta have a bird! I'm weak! I'm weak, but I don't care! I can't help it! After all, I am a pussycat!
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': Unlike in other cartoons, Sylvester genuinely wants to give up his bird-eating addiction and not eat Tweety. He goes out of his way to try to stave off temptation and even handcuffs himself to a radiator to keep his distance. Though he does eventually break down and give into temptation, it's only after a sleepless night and hours of agony—but for all that, Tweety still calls him "a bad ol' puddy tat," despite Sylvester actively trying to keep the canary safe.
  • Cold Turkeys Are Everywhere: Poor Sylvester just can't catch a break. The TV shows a chef cooking turkey, and the radio plays bird-themed songs.
    Radio Announcer: That was "Bye Bye, Blackbird." And now we'll play "When the Red Red Robin Comes Bob Bob Bobbin' Along."
  • Darker and Edgier: Relatively speaking, the subject here is significantly darker than most Looney Tunes cartoons, especially those made by Friz Freleng, for portraying addiction mostly sincerely. It was considered revolutionary at the time for a cartoon to address such a real-life issue.
  • Descent into Addiction: Lampshaded by Sylvester's sponsor at the start of the film.
    Sylvester's Sponsor: It only takes one bird to start you, and before you know it, it's two birds, then three. Suddenly, without realizing it, you're a victim. Then one day... the end of the road.
    [Sylvester swallows hard.]
  • Didn't See That Coming: At the end, Sylvester actually seems to be able to stay on the wagon (at least for now); his sponsor does not.
  • Drugs Are Bad: At the B.A. meeting, various cats tell stories of their bird addictions.
    Striped Cat: I was a three-bird-a-day pussycat until B.A. helped me.
    [Applause from other cats.]
    Brown Cat: Being on a bird kick cost me five homes. B.A. helped me solve my problem. [Pats a bird that's just landed on his shoulder.]
    [More applause.]
  • Fantastic Drug: A cat's desire to eat birds is treated like this, withdrawal symptoms included.
  • Growling Gut: Sylvester's roaring stomach is just one of the many things trying to throw him off the wagon.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Sylvester's sponsor mouths all the B.A. platitudes but breaks down instantly after kissing Tweety, at which point Sylvester tries to tell him to get a hold of himself and tries to restrain him.
  • The Insomniac: Sylvester can't sleep because all he can think about is eating Tweety.
  • Meat-O-Vision: Sylvester has a vision of Tweety as a cooked bird.
  • Nightmare Face: Sylvester when he is breaking down.
  • No Name Given: The sponsor. Though he is referred to as "Clarence" or "Sam" in other Looney Tunes media.
  • No Sympathy: Tweety's final line (and thus the short's) is him dismissing the two cats struggling with their addiction (and Sylvester in the middle of one of the rare times when he's trying to protect him) as two "bad ol' puddy tats". (Though he was probably specifically referring to the sponsor falling off the bandwagon very easily).
  • Off the Wagon: Both Sylvester and (to the literally sobering surprise of the former) his sponsor.
  • Recovered Addict: At a meeting of B.A., Sylvester meets cats who have managed to kick the bird habit.
  • The Remake: An episode of The Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries reused the sponsor character and the cold turkey motif; the difference was that it took place at a monastery where a cult of cats take a vow not to eat birds. Sylvester has just as hard of a time sticking to that rule as in Birds Anonymous.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: The short came out around the time Alcoholics Anonymous was gaining momentum.
  • Shout-Out: The short is a spoof of the gritty "message films" popular at the time (like The Man with the Golden Arm), down to its unusually dark tone.
  • The Sponsor: Sylvester has one who tries to keep him on the straight path.
  • Sting: One plays when Sylvester screams after he succumbs to his basic instincts during his insomnia.
  • Tropaholics Anonymous: An obvious joke based on Alcoholics Anonymous.
  • Your Television Hates You: And your radio too. After Sylvester turns on the TV, he sees a chef cooking turkey; he turns on the radio in a desperate effort to distract himself, and the playlist features "Bye Bye, Blackbird" and "When the Red Red Robin Comes Bob Bob Bobbin' Along." (It should be noted that "Bye Bye Blackbird" is heard during the montage of Sylvester having insomnia.)
    Chef: [Fake Italian accent] After-a basting, you find your bird will come out golden-a brown. Every succulent morsel will simply melt-a in your mouth. See how easily the white-a meat-a slices, eh? Yum, yum! Doesn't that-a look...


Video Example(s):


Birds Anonymous

A classic parody of A.A. from an Oscar-winning Sylvester & Tweety cartoon.

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