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Western Animation / Bully for Bugs

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Bully for Bugs is a 1953 Looney Tunes short directed by Chuck Jones, starring Bugs Bunny.

The short begins with Bugs on his way to the Coachella Valley for the "Big carrot festival, therein." but takes a Wrong Turn at Albuquerque and winds up inside a bullfight arena, and becomes an unwitting victim of Toro the Bull and his horns. Bugs, indignant at this attack, immediately decides to turn the tables, taking up the role of a matador and giving the bull his just desserts for the rest of the cartoon. One of the few Bugs shorts where his opponent gains the upper hand at several points along the way.

This cartoon is also notable for a bit of history behind its making, at least according to Chuck Jones: Jones' supervisor, Eddie Selzer, barged into Jones' office one day and announced, completely out of the blue, that "bullfights aren't funny!" Since Jones and his fellow animators worked from the assumption that Eddie was always wrong about everything, their only choice was to make a cartoon about bullfighting.note  Jones' suspicions about Selzer's comedic sensibilities were, of course, correct - the short turned out to be, even today, one of Bugs' most successful and popular outings.

The cartoon, in fact, partially recycles the plot from a 1947 Daffy Duck cartoon, Mexican Joyride, directed by Arthur Davis.

It can be found on Looney Tunes Golden Collection Vol. 1.

Bully for Bugs provides examples of:

  • Beastly Bloodsports: "Bullfights aren't funny!", quoted by Eddie Selzer himself.
  • Booby Trap: "Okay, Toro, whenever you can spare da time." Cut to Bugs holding a rifle behind the red cape. "Booby trap."
  • Bullet Seed: After accidentally swallowing a rifle, Toro is briefly able to shoot from his horns. His attempt to reload (with explosive rounds) leads him to disaster.
  • Bull Seeing Red: Subverted, in that Bugs flapping his cape leads a dazed Toro into following him around the arena in a sort of dance.
  • Bowdlerization:
    • Both CBS and ABC censored the climactic scene of Toro sliding up a greased ramp and, as he flies through the air, having a run-in with an explosive, the detonation of which is caused by Toro getting hit first by a bit of glue and then some sandpaper, which strikes a strategically-placed match, which lights the explosive's fuse. ABC would only show Toro sliding up the ramp and crashing into the fence, but CBS was slightly more careless: it would also show Toro being hit with the glue and sandpaper, as well as his dazed look caused by the unseen explosion.
    • ABC also censored the scene of Toro accidentally blowing himself up with a round of explosive bullets.
  • Brutish Bulls: Toro the huge black bull takes downright sadistic pleasure in charging and headbutting his opponents, even using a grindstone to make sure his horns are particularly sharp, and setting off his conflict with Bugs thanks to Disproportionate Retribution. Although as noted elsewhere he also manages to subvert expectations at a couple of points, at least in regards to his intellect.
  • Butt-Monkey: Toro once he meets Bugs becomes the designated victim of all his pranks.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The entire premise of this cartoon. Bugs slaps Toro in the nose for "steaming up his tail", Toro rebuts by headbutting Bugs into the sky and Bugs declares that This Means War!.
  • A Dog Named "Dog": "Toro" is Spanish for "bull".
  • Door Judo: Sets up Bugs' Finishing Move. At the last moment, Bugs opens the gates and Toro charges out of the ring and to the outskirts of town. While he realizes what happened and charges back, Bugs sets up his final trap.
  • Deadly Dodging: Bugs does this with an anvil.
  • Genius Bruiser: While "genius" is definitely a bit of an overstatement, Toro's basically like Albert Einstein compared to most of the other foes that Bugs has faced over the years.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Toro, like the bull he is, is always seen in an angry mood. His meeting with Bugs doesn't make anything better.
  • Hit Flash: see Second Person Attack.
  • Horn Attack: Toro's whole shtick is charging headfirst to try and impale Bugs.
  • Impact Silhouette:
    • Toro leaves a bull-shaped hole through the matador's cape.
    • Bugs leaves a rabbit-shaped one when Toro knocks him through a wall.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Toro just like any normal bull is very fast and agile.
  • Mickey Mousing: Most notably used when Bugs is mockingly slapping Toro to the tune of "Las Chiapanecas".
  • Recycled Plot: As described above, this cartoon actually partly recycles a bullfight situation from a 1947 Daffy Duck cartoon.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Toro has red, blood-shot eyes, indicating his aggressive nature.
  • Rube Goldberg Device: How Bugs finishes off Toro. First he has Toro slip on grease at full speed and off a ramp. Toro then flies over a brush full of glue, then a sheet of sandpaper that is now glued to his belly. The sandpaper next ignites a match, which lights a fuse that outruns Toro and reaches a pile of explosives that explodes just as Toro comes flying by. Finally, he crashes into the fence, with Bugs pulling a "The End" curtain over his butt for the Iris Out.
  • Sadist: Toro is always seen smiling maliciously whenever he's about to charge his adversaries.
  • Second-Person Attack: Bugs uses Toro's horns to create a slingshot.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: The original bullfighter hightails it for the hills the instant Toro appears.
  • Shown Their Work: The crew wanted to make this portrayal of bullfighting as close to accurate as possible. Film editor Treg Brown even traveled all the way to Barcelona to record the sounds of a bullfighting crowd and the mooing of an actual bull, which is what ended up in the film.
  • Shut Up, Scary Thing!: As seen in the page-image above. Of course, the Scary Thing uses this moment to prepare for payback. Which he scores.
  • Slippery Skid: Used as part of Bugs' finishing gambit.
  • Standard Snippet: The staple South of the Border tunes "La Cucaracha" and "Las Chiapanecas" are played when Bugs is fighting with Toro. In particular, "La Raspa" is played during one of Bugs' counterattacks where he prances around with a sombrero and frequently smacks Toro in the face.
  • Tap on the Head: See below under Unsportsmanlike Gloating.
  • A Taste of Defeat: Although Bugs dominates the fight for the most part, Toro does get in a few good shots of his own (some quite literally).
  • This Means War!: Quoted by Bugs when he is first attacked by Toro.
    Bugs: Of course you realize, this means war!
  • Unsportsmanlike Gloating: Both combatants have a bad habit of indulging in this a little too soon.
    Bugs: [after tricking Toro] Hee hee hee...what a gulli-bull! Hee hee hee...what a nin-cow-poop!
    [Toro, with his horns detached, bops Bugs on the noggin with a hoof, like a hammer.]
  • Visual Pun: The end curtain, which covers up Toro's behind.
  • Wheel o' Feet: Toro, basically, during any of his charges.
  • Writer Revolt: invoked The reason the cartoon was made. Though it was justified, because, as writer Michael Maltese said, "Eddie's never been right before..."
  • Wrong Turn at Albuquerque: Bugs realizes he's screwed up as soon as he pops out of the ground.
    Bugs: Well, here I am! Hey, just a cotton-picking minute! This don't look like the Coachella Valley to me!