Lost Treasure…Of A Sort

Recently, the new executives of Warner Bros./Discovery, in their infinite wisdom, has removed hundreds of classic Looney Tunes cartoons from HBOMax with seemingly no plans on further distribution or availability. There is no word if these cartoons will be on another site or if there will be physical copies for sale. Essentially, for some sort of cost cutting measure, that makes little to no sense, hundreds of hours of cultural touchstones are just gone. It would be the equivalent to Disney deleting all evidence of Mickey Mouse on their streaming service. Truly a mind boggling choice.

Now, in the long history of lost treasures, hell even in my own personal experience, this may not necessarily rank high in the record, but that doesn’t mean it is not significant. Yes, they are just a bunch of cartoons, but what does that mean, really?

Perhaps I am showing my age, but watching reruns of classic Looney Tunes cartoons was a major part of my childhood. It was my first exposure to various forms of media like Opera and classic literature. I was learning cultural references, figures, and milestones through osmosis and laughing at Bugs Bunny’s antics. In essence, watching these cartoons gave me points of reference that helped me understand American, and sometimes foreign, popular culture through various historical stages. While this may seem like a small thing, think of what that actually signifies.

Think about how many conversations occur because of common knowledge. How mutual references lead to common understanding and ground which can be built upon. How people from different backgrounds can have the same cultural standing from simply engaging with the same media and cultural touchstones. This is what is being lost when media productions like Looney Tunes, Disney films, music, etc. is simply removed and inaccessible. This is also why there is such little engagement and investment in new pieces of media. They come and go without having time and opportunity to truly become part of the popular culture to be examined and ingrained.

It is a common cultural grounding that is being lost, and it is an important treasure of a sort. Wonder what the future landscape of media and popular culture will be without markers like these.

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