For some odd reason, animated movies have a long history of having weird images and “subliminal messages” purportedly hidden within their film frames, from underwater penis castles to naked ladies to just straight-up the word “SEX” in big ol’ magic dust lettering, all with varying degrees of veracity to the claims. One entry that’s apparently flown under the radar for a while now is the plethora of pro-union and labor rights jokes and sight gags littering one of the most 90's movies ever made—Space Jam.
As an essay posted today on Mel Magazine explores, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and the rest of the Looney Tunes are just a hare’s breadth away from turning into commie pinko agitators.
“What Daffy Duck was talking about was very real, and it’s still happening today,” animator Charles Zembillas tells author author Steven Perlberg, which is somehow as hilarious as it is thoroughly disheartening.
Daffy, for reference, is talking about the injustices of unfair work practices and financial rights retention for laborers throughout the film, even going so far as to grouse, “If this were a union job...” at one point. Perlberg’s exploration of Space Jam’s six degrees of separation from Woody Guthrie is also a fascinating and brief recap of the history of labor struggles within the animation industry, and how—surprise—some of our country’s most iconic images and pieces of art were literally written as labors of love by underpaid, overworked working-class people.
Huh. It’s almost as if there’s a real trend of exploitation running through almost every facet of American history...