Monday, December 11, 2006

IT'S A CAT AND MOUSE GAME


Tom and Jerry Possibly the world's most adored cartoon characters, and also the most watched over the ages. And probably the most violent too . Here's some trivia on why Tom, the cat, chases Jerry, the mouse, and how violent yet cute the show really is.

Tom and Jerry title card used during the late 1940s and early 1950s, attached to many reissues of early and mid 1940s shorts.
Enlarge
Tom and Jerry title card used during the late 1940s and early 1950s, attached to many reissues of early and mid 1940s shorts.
Tom and Jerry title card used in the early 1950s, and some reissues of 1940s shorts.
Enlarge
Tom and Jerry title card used in the early 1950s, and some reissues of 1940s shorts.

"The plots of each short usually center on Tom's frustrated attempts to catch Jerry, and the mayhem and destruction that ensues. Because they seem to get along in some cartoon shorts (at least in the first minute or so), it is unclear why Tom chases Jerry so much, but some reasons given may include:

  • normal feline hunger
  • normal feline/mouse enmity
  • his duty according to his owner (often it is Tom's job, as a house cat, to catch mice and failure would equal eviction)
  • the simple enjoyment of tormenting him
  • revenge
  • a nuisance to Tom, since Jerry spoils his dark, evil plans (like cooking fish or ducks)
  • a misunderstanding (especially in shorts that start with them ambivalent or friendly to each other)
  • a conflict when both of them want the same thing (usually food)
  • a need to have Jerry out of the way (particularly when seeking a female feline)
  • a game enjoyed by both of them
  • Tom "needing" Jerry (i.e. as a bait, for fishing or as a golf tee, as a tennis ball, for getting a reward for the "white mouse",...)
  • To teach his nephew about feline/rodent relation and how to catch mice

The shorts are famous for using some of the most destructive and violent gags ever devised for theatrical animation: Jerry slicing Tom in half, Tom using everything from axes, pistols, rifles, dynamite, and poison to try to murder Jerry, Jerry stuffing Tom's tail in a waffle iron, and so on. A common joke is that when Tom hits Jerry with something such as a hammer when he is occupied (usually eating) and is initially perplexed as he continues unaffected- and he then feels the effects moments later. Usually, neither Tom nor Jerry speaks in the cartoons, with rare and brief exceptions to these rules. Facial expressions, gestures, and music easily convey the characters' feelings and intentions.

The cartoon is also noteworthy for its conscious attempt to use, or rely on preset visual concepts or stereotypes, in the viewer's mind. The most famous and most criticized such concept would be the blackening of characters following an explosion, or using very heavy and enlarged shadows(i.e., Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Mouse) with little realistic factor when some sinister plot is being carried out, regardless of the otherwise light tone of the cut. Resemblance to everyday objects and occurrences is arguably the main appeal of visual humor in the series. The characters themselves regularly transform into ridiculous but strongly associative shapes, most of the time involuntarily, in masked but gruesome ways.

Music plays a very important part in the shorts, emphasizing the action, filling in for traditional sound-effects, and lending appropriate emotion to the scenes. Musical director Scott Bradley created complex scores that combined elements of jazz, classical, and pop music; Bradley often reprised contemporary pop songs, as well as songs from MGM films such as The Wizard of Oz and Meet Me In St. Louis."


Watching re-runs of Tom and Jerry a million times is as refreshing as watching it for the first time. It never fails to elicit a good laugh

1 comment:

  1. I am an ardent fan of Tom & Jerry as well. Indeed, watching them play the teasing game is always refereshing (that is how I see the cartoon) I just wanted to add that the background music is a mixture of different Sonatas by Beethoven and Brahms, and it is amazing to note that how till date the music is widely loved.

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