Wednesday, July 15, 2015

"The Bear that Wasn't"

“The Bear that Wasn’t” started out as a book by Frank Tashlin (one of the Looney Tunes directors) that was made into an animated short by Chuck Jones. It is the story of a bear who wakes up from his hibernation, only to find that a factory has been built up around him in his sleep. He tries and tries to convince the factory that he is a bear, but they insist that he is a man and should get back to work.

It is a commentary about how people will believe anything as long as they are told it repeatedly, and also about how stupid society can be.

It is a timely story for today. At first glance one would think it fits right into our cultural zeitgeist in support of the trends of gay marriage, gender identity and self-determination. But that is not what the story is about. In fact, it flies in the face of all that.

In the story, the bear is a bear. Society is stupid and tries to tell him he is something else. He ends up believing them. A rewrite today would require a story about society telling a man with a delusion about being a bear that he was right in his delusion.

Tashlin lamented the way society made us believe the lies it imposed upon us. Instead of hearing his warning, we seem to have taken things to a new extreme where ontology has lost all meaning and reality has no bearing.

It sometimes makes one want to crawl in a hole and escape the madness.

(The film is easy to find online, but I am not sure about the ownership status.  Do a search if you would like to see it, or it is on the Looney Tunes Gold Collection Vol. 3 DVD or the platinum collection vol. 1 Blu-ray.)

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