Life With Feathers (Looney Tunes)
Life With Feathers is a 1945 Merrie Melodies cartoon directed by Friz Freleng and written by Tedd Pierce and marks the debut of Sylvester the cat. After getting kicked out by his wife, a depressed lovebird wants to commit suicide by convincing Sylvester to eat him even though Sylvester refuses to.
- Just like Chuck Jones' Angel Puss released the previous year, the concept behind this cartoon is way too dark and disturbing for a Looney Tunes cartoon since the lovebird wants to end his life by getting eaten by Sylvester, and it takes itself way too far by the usage of suicide jokes in the cartoon. Now, that idea sounds familiar, folks.
- There is some dark dark imagery is shown in this cartoon, such as the lovebird thinking of ways to kill himself at the beginning of the cartoon, which consists of shooting himself with a gun, attempting to throw himself off a high-rise building, attempting to get himself run down by an ongoing train by tying himself to the railroad tracks, and finally, getting himself eaten by a cat.
- Some of the jokes aren’t that funny and usually come off as depressing because of the humor relying on needlessly dark undertones and jokes about suicide.
- The ending is really bad and does nothing to help this cartoon get any better due to the lovebird's wife staying back just so she can continue to boss the lovebird husband around.
- On top of that, it is implied that the lovebird's wife is a very unlikeable character who continuously abuses her husband to the point of driving him to suicide, and that she never gets her repercussions for her abusive actions. Not only does this cartoon joke about suicide, but it also jokes about domestic abuse and toxicity in romantic relationships.
- Plot holes:
- Why would Sylvester be foraging for food in the garbage cans at the very start of this cartoon when it is revealed that he has a home and an owner who feeds him?
- Why didn't the lovebird simply divorce his wife? This is all the more notable by the fact that it was implied she left him near the end.
- It is unknown what happened to Sylvester when he failed to eat the lovebird after finally making his mind up, did he just die or did he just give up on trying to catch the lovebird? From what should be noted here is that we never see him again for the rest of this cartoon.
- It's truly unknown what the husband lovebird even did to get his wife so angry at him, which sets up the cartoon with him receiving a lot of unfair and borderline abusive treatment from his wife.
- Sylvester's design in this cartoon is a little rough and uncanny when compared to his later designs, especially when viewed at certain angles.
- It DOES feature the debut of one of the most well known Looney Tunes characters, Sylvester.
- Some jokes are worth a laugh or two.
- The animation is good for its time.
- Despite being pretty incompetent in this cartoon and thinking that the lovebird is poisonous, Sylvester appears less hostile as he spends the rest of the short, preventing the lovebird from committing suicide instead of eating him.
- As with the rest of the Looney Tunes shorts of the time, Carl Stalling's music is nice to listen to and fits the action onscreen very nicely. Likewise, Mel Blanc still does a great job voicing the characters.
- Friz Freleng eventually learned his mistakes from this cartoon and started making better Sylvester cartoons starting with "Peck Up Your Troubles".
- The short was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Subject in 1946, but it lost to the Tom and Jerry cartoon Quiet Please!.
- Chuck Jones would later reuse the concept of this cartoon for the Looney Tunes cartoon "Cheese Chasers" (1951) six years later, which centers on mice Hubie and Bertie, wanting to commit suicide by getting themselves eaten by Claude Cat after getting sick of eating too much cheese at a cheese factory, except that unlike this short, Cheese Chasers had a more lighthearted and comedic tone despite still utilizing a rather dark concept of suicidal animals wanting to get themselves eaten by cats who are unwilling to eat them.
- Ironically, the cartoon "Cheese Chasers" (1951) served as the final appearances of Hubie and Bertie from the Golden Age of American Animation.
Reception and Censorship
At first, the short was originally well-received during its theatrical runs, having been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Subject in 1946, but it lost to the Tom and Jerry cartoon Quiet Please!, mainly due to how it successfully tackled dark, realistic and mature subject matters of domestic abuse and suicide, though audience reception of this short had now shifted to negative in recent years, mainly due to the change of times over the years as well as the increase of awareness in suicide as a serious issue in modern times, especially over in the United States.
Because of this, television networks in the United States such as Cartoon Network, Boomerang, TNT, TBS, and The WB now edit out the part where the lovebird thinks of different ways to commit suicide after his wife has thrown him out.
Despite this, It's received 7/10 on IMDb.