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Kentucky Fried Rabbit

August 13, 2018

Screen Shot 2018-08-13 at 9.38.25 AMAfter Friz Freleng’s “Southern Fried Rabbit” Warner Bros. 1953

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Have you seen the cartoon haunted with cotton? A rabbit in famine reads in the paper where there’s Plantations of Carrots. He burrows desert and dune in soich, missing that toin at Albuquerque, whisker-sniffing on down to the Promised Land. Funny thing that it’s down (ha ha = oh no): Canaan is never “down” of anything—least of all carrots. Hop-Along replays Columbus, dotting the maps as he goes.

 

Have you noticed, everything that’s true has a picture? This cartoon wants a double exposure. Its final pun is on Yankee, for instance, but none of that makes heads spin or gets the curtains or floorboards going in a round of any haint’s favorite song. It marks the scene of a crime—as does the haunted house—with the sounds of a stadium full of disappointment.

 

Would you move over Grover? There’s a ghost at the end of this cartoon, hiding in a silhouette, little more than mise-en-abyme. A farm-appropriate form along the horizon. Full of cotton, to be sure. When Osiris jumps out of his hole, it might as well be Bale-Town because all you see along the horizon is wagon full of cloud. When the man shows up with his rifle supply and rebel Greys, I scan the curvilinear topmost edge of my grandmother’s black and white in the living room of my black-and-white family’s house. I survey cartoon heavens for nooses and Spanish moss. There is no good day for this rabbit to have in a wasteland down this far. Carrot-less and rough, but not tumble.

Is this what that little old-timer wants? With his hair trigger and hirsute nose, his hat tall as Texas and guns that swell they like firing so much. They make testicular pops of smoke every time they do. Afterwards, an orange star: hieroglyph for the pleasures of detonation. In cartoons even guns have corpora.

 

And why not? You get all the good contrasts that way. The orange star makes impotent shooting vivid. Add an unkillable talking animal in drag and you’ve got the makings of America: the women as men as animals as gods seducing to conquer the man as hat as hirsute gun orange stars himself to root and to toot, back-and-forth, from vermin-Vanguard to varmint-Venus.

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Why must it all happen along a horizon pregnant with a cart of crying cotton? Such an abandoned cart, you might even call it “lowly.” At “shiftless,” you’re only two name-calls away from “cotton-picking.” Now there’s a lowly shift for you. A downright declension! But no one cares, really, right? Of course not.

 

Don’t you remember the refrain? Frankly my, dear, I don’t give the impression that the injured text is Stowe’s or any of her disciples. No no, no. That misses the riverboat, Showboat, which is to say, that route’s Orgy at best. No, the inter-text is erasure, floppy-eared as Easter and just as threateningly unclear. I thank the devil and Mr. Jones for leading me to picture who’s dressing that rabbit in between the takes, you see, and who polishes the gun, whom you don’t, or just who it is lays all those eggs.

 

And every orange star?

Another dead rabbit.

 

 

<originally published in Bat City Review >

From → Archives, My Stories

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