Thursday, 21 March 2013

Tom and Jerry Cartoon lovable duo

73 and Still Chasing
A  lion looks out of an MGM wreath, yawns out his signature roar, and that peppy trumpeting tune rings out— sounds familiar? Well, bring out the cake and candles, as the oldest laugh-riot in the book, animation’s most beloved cat and mouse couple are celebrating their 70th birthday this year!

Its been a long journey for a cartoon series that literally defined childhood for those of us born in the latter half of the 1900s; the tale of the hungry and tenacious tom-cat, and his unattainable prey — the feisty little brown mouse, captivating a million hearts and minds all over the world through the years. Read on...

The classically amusing series, born in the minds of world-famous animators William Hanna and Joseph Barbera circa 1938, was released on February 10, 1940, and completed its seventh decade last month. Born amidst a great doubt of its success, it sent all its detractors running for cover with its 1941 Academy Award for Best Short Subject: Cartoons the year after its release. Who knew that a simple tale about a cat chasing a mouse, one of the most natural and age-old phenomena of prey and predator, could take on the permutations and combinations it did, to endure for over half a century. It went on to receive seven Academy Awards in the Best Short Subject (Cartoons) category, plus six more nominations in that category.
The series was even named one of the greatest television shows of all time at the turn of the millennium, by TIME in the year 2000.

The basic story, which revolves around an almost infinite chase, with Tom the tom-cat, pursuing his tiny tormentor, the highly resourceful Jerry with indomitable stubbornness, and various guest appearances in popular cameos, never fails to bring a smile to your face. But this kiddie-favourite, has not been without its share of controversies either. It ran into trouble with objection being taken to the politically incorrect representation of African-American characters like Mammy Two-Shoes in the cartoon. They also had to edit out various smoking scenes in the UK editions.

Moreover, concerned parents across the world have opined that many episodes play up the kind of violence they don’t want their children to imbibe. Ubiquitous dynamite sticks, loaded guns, fist fights, falling ceilings and hungry sharks sound like the stuff of nightmares. “But then,” says Nidhi Sachin Kukde, a lawyer and mother of three, “It’s all about the context you put it in. It’s definitely important to monitor how your child is taking it in, and maybe keep pointing out to the kids how resourceful Jerry is, how he faces a much bigger attacker (Tom), and keep a perspective of what message you manage to convey from the situation.” Her children, 11-year-old Tanya, 10-year-old Jatin and 7-year-old Nikita unanimously agree it’s their absolute favourite cartoon.

Not surprisingly, they all belong to ‘Camp-Jerry’, who they like because he’s cute, small and very playful. Not so difficult to see exactly why most kids (and many adults) identify with him. In fact ‘Camp-Tom’ doesn’t have too many takers. But for his sheer tenacity, survival of unbelievable assaults, and that little bit of conscience that makes him rescue a frozen Jerry from a snowstorm and revive him with a desperate fervour; he has my vote. The series has, besides its two main protagonists, a long-list of repeatedly visiting characters, from Spike the killer-dog, his friendly puppy Tyke, Quacker the loquacious little bird, to Tuffy, Jerry’s sweet waif-like nephew (his only nemesis) and a host of others, who have their own fan-base. Laudably, the show is still an all-time favourite kid-addiction, and has managed to survive the onslaught of new-age cartoons, living on as a classic comedy in the hearts of most viewers today.

And so the basic formula continues to see these two rivals in an unending battle, making millions of children and adults all over the world laugh, cry and learn lessons from the friendship between the two most unlikely characters and their spirit of competition, as they watch it even today. Somewhere, a wizened old cat and mouse, maybe friends now, are watching with a smile, as their antics continue to entertain never-ending generations of the young at heart.

Tom & Jerry Fact box:
There is hardly ever any dialogue between the two main protagonists, as they never speak. However secondary characters are often very talkative on show.
Tom’s original name was ‘Jasper’ in the very first short cartoon film, Puss gets the Boot, while Jerry was named ‘Jinx’. Jasper and Jinx could well have been a catchword of cartoon lovers today.
Co-director William Hanna provided most of the squeaks, gasps, and other vocal effects for the pair, including Tom’s oft-occurring scream and Jerry’s nervous gulp.
Ex-Palestinian President Yasser Arafat loved the cartoon show because “the little guy — the mouse and not the cat — always won.”
The Simpsons characters, Itchy and Scratchy of the cartoon on the Krusty the Clown Show, are spoofs of Tom and Jerry - a “cartoon within a cartoon.”
My kids were kept quiet on this evergreen duo and they still love them .
Long live our lovable pair.Happy birthday to them.!!!!

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