Sunday, February 10, 2013

Battle of the Silent, Weirdly (In?)Competent Predators (My Dad Can Beat Up Your Dad)

My Dad Can Beat Up Your Dad takes two pop culture things that occupy the same slot, and determines which would, or should, win in a fight. Or whatever.  Look, this isn't rocket science, okay?  Rules? The rules is, there ain't no rules.

TODAY'S FIGHT: Wile E. Coyote

vs

Tom.




Introductions are in order:


Wile E. Coyote, super genius, has a literary pedigree.  Chuck Jones, who created the Wile E./Road Runner cartoons to parody "chase" cartoons like Tom & Jerry (and who reportedly was disappointed when the cartoons caught on) based the character on Mark Twain's description of a coyote from Roughin' It:

The coyote is a long, slim, sick and sorry-looking skeleton, with a gray wolfskin stretched over it, a tolerably bushy tail that forever sags down with a despairing expression of forsakenness and misery, a furtive and evil eye, and a long, sharp face, with slightly lifted lip and exposed teeth. He has a general slinking expression all over. The coyote is a living, breathing allegory of Want. He is always hungry. He is always poor, out of luck, and friendless. The meanest creatures despise him, and even the fleas would desert him for a velocipede. He is so spirtless and cowardly that even while his exposed teeth are pretending a threat, the rest of his face is apologizing for it. And he is so homely! -so scrawny, and ribby, and coarse-haired, and pitiful.

Wile E. is frequently referred to by his Latin names.  Do you have a Latin name? I do.  It's Boniface Tullus, which I kind of like.  Boniface Tullus.  (I got that from this Latin Name generator.)

As I, Boniface Tullus, was saying, Wile E oftentimes is referred to by his Latin names, which include "Eatibus Anythingus," "Famishus-famishus," and "Famishius vulgaris ingeniusi," which if you put that through a reverse translator comes to the exact same thing, indicating to me that perhaps the universe is no longer expanding but that instead at the exact moment that I hit translate the universe began to contract and so time reversed itself and we're all now running backwards, which might alarm you except you probably won't notice anything.  If every physical law in the universe reversed itself, you would remember the future and be ignorant of the past.

Wouldn't you?

I don't know.

Tom, meanwhile, appears to have a much shakier past, including an alias: when he first came into the public eye, Tom was known as "Jasper."  To be fair, this may have been a stage name to separate himself from other Tom cats in Hollywood, including Sylvester, who originally went by Thomas.

But it's probably not, as "Tom & Jerry" is a phrase long associated with hooliganism, or at least rakish behavior.

In January 1821, a well-known journalist and sportswriter (sport meaning prize fighting and horse racing) called Pierce Egan wrote a monthly journal under the title: “The Day and Night Scenes of Jerry Hawthorn Esq., and his elegant friend, Corinthian Tom, accompanied by Bob Logic, the Oxonian, in their rambles and sprees through the Metropolis.”


Says "Victorian Footnotes," which goes on to note that beer houses in London were referred to as "Tom And Jerry" shops, from which we can learn that Victorian England was not what we would call pithy with its titles.

Strengths:  That stuff is all well and good, a phrase that suffers from the same extra wordage as "cease and desist."  The other day I got a letter from a lawyer demanding that my client "cease and desist" something, and I was tempted to write back "We will cease, but we will NEVER desist."

It's all well and good to get caught up in talking about phrases, but what about what each of these animals can do?  I am ready to give you an answer on that, or, rather, I would be if I were actually ready to give you an answer on that.

I have been diligently researching that very question -- what can these animals do? -- since almost 10 minutes before I started writing this post, when I sat down with some cold pizza for breakfast and decided to watch a "Wile E. Coyote" cartoon.  I watched that cartoon, which was this one:



But that one wasn't really very good; it was just the first one I found.  But as I watched it I began wondering about how Wile E would stack up to Tom, and so I watched a Tom & Jerry cartoon, too, the first one I found being this one:



Which honestly is a little creepy.  I watched about 1/3 of that, getting up to where Jerry tracks tar onto the deck, before giving up because I was bored, and going back to Wile E cartoons, which I had playing in the background as I typed up all that introduction to this post, including this cartoon:


But I had them playing on my Kindle, next to me, because I had to type this post and what I learned in college is that you do not research-and-then-write, you just make it up as you go along, reading only as much as is necessary to make your point.  That is how American knowledge works.

Unfortunately, my Kindle battery was low because I was up late last night, alternating between taking Mr F for rides three times (at 9 p.m., 10 p.m., and 11 p.m.) and reading Girl Genius because I was too tired to read anything else, and I forgot to charge it, so my Kindle ran out of power and I asked Mr Bunches if I could use his iPad to continue my research, but he said "no" because he is watching "My Friends Tigger & Pooh" on his iPad, so that was the end of my research.

Instead, I will go off my memory, which, if I am wrong about the course of time reversing, ought to be at least reasonably accurate, and also off of Wikipedia, which fortunately for us completely neglects telling anyone anything about the government program for allowing drone strikes on US citizens, but does list all of the ACME products Wile E. Coyote uses in his efforts to capture the Road Runner, including ACME Giant Kites



ACME Bumblebees



ACME Rocket Skates


and ACME Dehydrated Boulders


There is, if you are interested and you know you are, a complete online catalog of every ACME product ever bought by the Coyote.  Because we are a nation without a purpose.  (I've spent over an hour there today!)

Beyond his solid-gold credit rating and apparently unlimited ACME account, Wile E. Coyote is pretty fast, and pretty strong (for brief moments), can sometimes hover, and has the ability to create new realities that intersect with ours:


And survive even the heat at the center of the Earth:



And those abilities are what separates Wile E from the regular person.  Absent his unique reality-twisting powers, Wile E is pretty much a poor man's Bruce Wayne, above-average physical skills combined with a bunch of expensive gadgets to pursue a single-minded  obsession that is more about his own personal gratification than   of giving benefit to the world.



Tom, on the other hand... paw?  No, I'm not going to stoop to the lowest common denominator, here.  For a change.

Tom's powers appear more limited, and, frankly, less obsessive, as noted by Wikipedia, which comments that many times, Tom and Jerry cooperate with little to no friction, and also that Tom has a real love for the ladies:

Tom changes his love interest many times. The first love interest is Toots who appears in Puss n' Toots, and calls him "Tommy" in The Mouse Comes to Dinner. He is also interested in a cat called Toots inThe Zoot Cat although she has a different appearance to the original Toots. The most frequent love interest of Tom's is Toodles Galore, who never has any dialogue in the cartoons.




Tom is, in short, a pretty skillful guy who seems to more or less lack the financial wherewithal of Wile E, and also has no real powers whatsoever other than his ability to come back from the dead.

WAIT WHAT?

Despite five shorts ending with a depiction of Tom's apparent death, his demise is never permanent; he even reads about his own death in a flashback in Jerry's Diary. He appears to die in explosions in Mouse Trouble (after which he is seen in heaven), Yankee Doodle Mouse and in Safety Second, while in The Two Mouseketeers he is guillotined offscreen.

Yep. Tom is some sort of demigod, who uses his power to woo earthly females.  That being pretty much what demigods do,  if my understanding of them based on reading 1/3 of The Odyssey is correct, which I will assume it is (see "research methods in US," supra).

Like other demigods and minor deities, Tom has a variety of abilities that crop up when necessary, a jack-of-all-trades whose one major symbolic purpose (catching mice) has come to be overshadowed by the plethora of other traits tacked on over time.

But still, a demigod.

So who would win in a fight?

It seems as thought Wile E would never win, doesn't it?  Despite his better financing and his inability to be killed, how can he fight a god? In fact, his inability to win in this fight might be presaged by his inability to win, ever, against a lowly roadrunner.

But, then, would Tom even fight?  The gods are mercurial, after all - -sometimes they decide to make one guy's life miserable for decades and decades and sometimes they just go back to trapping Ares having an affair and laughing at him while he's trapped on the bed.  The Attention Span Of The Gods needs a little work, is my point, while Wile E. Coyote's single-minded obsessiveness suggests that he would never give up.

Can obsession win out over near-absolute, but dissolute power? That is the question that has plagued me, and mankind, ever since I posed it way back at the beginning of this paragraph.

Despite the fact that Tom has lingered on in cartoons and movies that apparently are aired to this day, I am going to give this one to obsession.  We all know that Batman beat Superman the time they fought, not by actually physically overpowering him, but through treachery and deceit:


...that eventually helped corrupt even the incorruptible Superman.

Tom is no Superman.  He wasn't raised by Ma and Pa Kent, and is obviously prone to giving in to his more dissolute pursuits -- women, golf, pizza, whatever -- and it would be easy to see Wile E. Coyote  wearing him down over the years until finally, one day, Wile E. Coyote tricks Tom into running into a wall that doesn't turn into a tunnel, and then disintegrates him.


Which leaves just one lingering question.  Since it's been decided that Wile E. Coyote would beat Tom in a fight, all that is left to wonder is:

Just how afraid of the Road Runner should we all be?

If that thing ever stops just wanting to run, and instead starts wanting to subjugate all of humanity to its will, we are in trouble.


3 comments:

PT Dilloway, Superhero Author said...

That seems like one of those battles like Freddy vs. Jason vs. Michael Meyers where no one would really win because they can all infinitely regenerate to come back again and again like something out of Tartarus.

Andrew Leon said...

I've always wanted the coyote to catch that road runner.

Did you get my email about your chocolate?

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