The case for sexy Lola Bunny: Why redrawing a beloved Space Jam character misses the mark

An honest question: Who among millennials did not first learn the meaning of scorn from the way Lola Bunny turned away from an obviously smitten Bugs Bunny — and Michael Jordan, let’s not forget — with the sultry challenge: “On the court … Bugs.” She proceeded to annihilate her fellow cartoon bunny at basketball in a 10-second sequence, and triumphantly left the scene clearly knowing she had left all the other cartoon characters in her dust. Warning Bugs never again to call her “Doll,” blowing her ears out of her eyes, was the icing on the cake.Ah, dear Lola — the true star of the 1996 kids’ basketball classic Space Jam. What have they done to you, and why? This week, LeBron James, who is starring in Space Jam: A New Legacy, a highly anticipated followup to the original movie, posted some images of characters in the film, including Bugs and Lola, along with other favourites, such as Daffy Duck and Tweety Bird.The internet promptly noticed something about Lola Bunny. Namely that the beloved cartoon character had become, compared to the 1996 film, a little less sexy. Gone was her busty chest and exposed midriff. In their place was a still-pretty Lola with solid, strong looking legs and very little chest.Malcolm D. Lee, the male producer of the new film, reportedly told TMZ he wanted to replace the “sexualized” Lola and “to reflect the authenticity of strong, capable female characters.” Sure, Lee, it’s great to emphasize female strength and it’s certainly true that female athletes come in all shapes and sizes. The “new Lola,” without a 1996 version to compare, would stand up just fine. But, by changing Lola from what she was before, Lee has let down those of us who knew she was pretty badass just the way she was. Lola was presented to viewers from the start as the best cartoon basketball player on the court, and willing to work hard to get even better. Her role as a flirty love interest for Bugs is secondary. Her curves and the fact that she embraced them did not degrade her. If anything, her flirtation with Bugs was a demonstration of a talented, hardworking woman who also made time for levity, and joy.I have distinct memories of being a young girl watching Lola show Bugs who’s boss while experiencing an internal “woohoo” for team-woman. Lola didn’t have to stop being sexy to insist Bugs treat her with respect — why does Lee think today’s viewers will see it that way? I’m not arguing that it’s always wrong to lend a refresh to characters past, or for the moviemakers of today to intentionally design female characters that are less sexualized and more authentic to a variety of women’s bodies and experiences (or, in this case, as authentic as it is possible to be in cartoon form). It’s certainly a good thing for girls to see empowered women on screen, and that means more characters that emphasize athleticism, intelligence and leadership — character traits that have not always had a good showing in female characters on screen. But changing Lola doesn’t only introduce a new, athletic rabbit to a next generation of kids. It sends an implicit message to those who already knew and loved Lola that in order to be a role-model, she had to stop being sexy in the way that she was. It’s the cartoon equivalent of policing what women wear, or shaming them for being upfront about their sexual desires, even though it’s probably not intended that way. The well-intentioned effort to ensure women are represented as more than just sex objects in creative media should not mean that women’s sexuality is off-limits on screen. It goes without saying that the size of a cartoon rabbit’s chest in a kid’s basketball movie will not be the cultural tone-setter of our time. But it also wouldn’t quite do it justice to dismiss the internet outrage over Lola’s redesign as the pangs of young people nostalgic for their first crush.There’s a reason the cartoon rabbit tugged so successfully at our heartstrings in the first place. She was strong, competent and confident — all the things we like encouraging women to be these days. But she was also aware of and confident in her body — sexy and happy about it. Lee didn’t need to rob her of that particular delight. Alex McKeen is a Vancouver-based reporter for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @alex_mckeen

The case for sexy Lola Bunny: Why redrawing a beloved Space Jam character misses the mark

An honest question: Who among millennials did not first learn the meaning of scorn from the way Lola Bunny turned away from an obviously smitten Bugs Bunny — and Michael Jordan, let’s not forget — with the sultry challenge: “On the court … Bugs.”

She proceeded to annihilate her fellow cartoon bunny at basketball in a 10-second sequence, and triumphantly left the scene clearly knowing she had left all the other cartoon characters in her dust.

Warning Bugs never again to call her “Doll,” blowing her ears out of her eyes, was the icing on the cake.

Ah, dear Lola — the true star of the 1996 kids’ basketball classic Space Jam. What have they done to you, and why?

This week, LeBron James, who is starring in Space Jam: A New Legacy, a highly anticipated followup to the original movie, posted some images of characters in the film, including Bugs and Lola, along with other favourites, such as Daffy Duck and Tweety Bird.

The internet promptly noticed something about Lola Bunny. Namely that the beloved cartoon character had become, compared to the 1996 film, a little less sexy. Gone was her busty chest and exposed midriff. In their place was a still-pretty Lola with solid, strong looking legs and very little chest.

Malcolm D. Lee, the male producer of the new film, reportedly told TMZ he wanted to replace the “sexualized” Lola and “to reflect the authenticity of strong, capable female characters.”

Sure, Lee, it’s great to emphasize female strength and it’s certainly true that female athletes come in all shapes and sizes. The “new Lola,” without a 1996 version to compare, would stand up just fine.

But, by changing Lola from what she was before, Lee has let down those of us who knew she was pretty badass just the way she was.

Lola was presented to viewers from the start as the best cartoon basketball player on the court, and willing to work hard to get even better. Her role as a flirty love interest for Bugs is secondary. Her curves and the fact that she embraced them did not degrade her. If anything, her flirtation with Bugs was a demonstration of a talented, hardworking woman who also made time for levity, and joy.

I have distinct memories of being a young girl watching Lola show Bugs who’s boss while experiencing an internal “woohoo” for team-woman. Lola didn’t have to stop being sexy to insist Bugs treat her with respect — why does Lee think today’s viewers will see it that way?

I’m not arguing that it’s always wrong to lend a refresh to characters past, or for the moviemakers of today to intentionally design female characters that are less sexualized and more authentic to a variety of women’s bodies and experiences (or, in this case, as authentic as it is possible to be in cartoon form). It’s certainly a good thing for girls to see empowered women on screen, and that means more characters that emphasize athleticism, intelligence and leadership — character traits that have not always had a good showing in female characters on screen.

But changing Lola doesn’t only introduce a new, athletic rabbit to a next generation of kids. It sends an implicit message to those who already knew and loved Lola that in order to be a role-model, she had to stop being sexy in the way that she was. It’s the cartoon equivalent of policing what women wear, or shaming them for being upfront about their sexual desires, even though it’s probably not intended that way.

The well-intentioned effort to ensure women are represented as more than just sex objects in creative media should not mean that women’s sexuality is off-limits on screen.

It goes without saying that the size of a cartoon rabbit’s chest in a kid’s basketball movie will not be the cultural tone-setter of our time. But it also wouldn’t quite do it justice to dismiss the internet outrage over Lola’s redesign as the pangs of young people nostalgic for their first crush.

There’s a reason the cartoon rabbit tugged so successfully at our heartstrings in the first place. She was strong, competent and confident — all the things we like encouraging women to be these days. But she was also aware of and confident in her body — sexy and happy about it. Lee didn’t need to rob her of that particular delight.

Alex McKeen is a Vancouver-based reporter for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @alex_mckeen

Source : Toronto Star More