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The Big Looney Tunes Change That Has Some Fans Furious

WarnerMedia's Looney Tunes reboot (one of the best TV shows to watch on HBO Max this June) is making some major changes with its beloved animated cast, and some legacy fans of the iconic cartoon series aren't having it. In a nod to how far the culture has come since Looney Tunes' debut back in 1930, two popular characters have been disarmed to make their cartoon images more palatable to a modern audience.

According to CNN, both Elmer Fudd and Yosemite Sam have had their accessories altered in the new Looney Tunes Cartoons series, which launched with Warner's new streaming service, HBO Max. In the original cartoon, Fudd, a bumbling hunter, and Sam, a hot-blooded prospector, spent nary a frame away from their respective firearms. Indeed, Fudd's hunting rifle and Sam's twin pistols have become practically synonymous with the characters who used to sport them.

No matter how much outrage this decision gins up, the creative team seems pretty set. Series showrunner Peter Browngardt told The New York Times flat out, "We're not doing guns." That's not to say the cast of Looney Tunes Cartoons won't have a vast array of more outlandish instruments of destruction to choose from. Giant mallets, elaborate booby traps and sticks of Acme dynamite are still fair game. "We can do cartoony violence," Browngardt said. "TNT, the Acme stuff. All that was grandfathered in."

Cultural attitudes toward gun violence have shifted radically since Looney Tunes debuted

Although Browngardt would not confirm that the decision to strip the guns from Fudd and Sam was a response to the epidemic of gun violence among American youth, it's hard to imagine that it wasn't a consideration. In the U.S., firearm-related injury is the second leading cause of death for children and adolescents, ranking behind only motor vehicle accidents. Increased awareness of this public health crisis has no doubt applied some pressure on content creators to think critically about how they depict guns and gun violence in work aimed at a young audience.

Lest fans fear that these changes might fundamentally alter the DNA of Looney Tunes, a recent short entitled "Dynamite Dance" demonstrates how easily other items can be inserted into the storyline in place of guns. This particular episode features Elmer Fudd in the latest act of his quixotic campaign against Bugs Bunny. Instead of an oversized hunting rifle, he chases Bugs with a giant scythe. The result has an equal — if not superior — comedic effect. Bugs, who is not without his own violent means of recourse, uses dynamite to blow up and evade Fudd several times in the same sequence.

Traditionalists can count on one important bit of continuity. Even though they've been disarmed, both Elmer Fudd and Yosemite Sam still sport the same outfits that they first donned in their original 1937 and 1944 appearances, so they should be easy to spot.