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Looney Tunes/HBO Max

This week in streaming: What to watch instead of the ‘Space Jam’ sequel

Plus thoughts on 'Sexy Beasts' and the MCU's lighting.

 

Michelle Jaworski

Internet Culture

Published Jul 21, 2021   Updated Jul 21, 2021, 1:48 pm CDT

Hello! Every week, our internet culture staff will discuss the world of streaming entertainment in this newsletter. In this week’s edition:

  • A brief reintroduction to the Looney Tunes
  • Netflix’s Sexy Beasts misses a chance to be truly revealing
  • Why the MCU’s lighting kind of sucks

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Looney Tunes/HBO Max
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A brief re-introduction to the Looney Tunes

Thanks to Space Jam: A New Legacy, the Looney Tunes are once again having a moment. They never really went away—the franchise has been around in various shapes and forms since 1930. But every so often, there’s a boost, whether it’s a new show or repackaging the classics. Unfortunately for the Looney Tunes, Space Jam: A New Legacy is not good: It’s an intellectual property-packed monstrosity that has little respect for its target demographics—children and nostalgic millennials—and operates more like a two-hour infomercial for HBO Max.

Mostly, though, it bummed me out. The Looney Tunes were such a staple of my childhood that I still have a photographic memory of shorts I haven’t watched in years. I can recall the name of a short from a few context clues. I still have tunes I haven’t heard in over 20 years stuck in my head. I even spent part of a summer learning to play an arrangement of “What’s Opera, Doc?” on the xylophone for marching band.

So whenever someone posts a thread highlighting some aspect of why the classic Looney Tunes shorts are works of genius, as Musical Man and the Magic Kazoo creator Vincent Alexander did last week ahead of Space Jam: A New Legacy’s release, it’s catnip for me. It doesn’t take long for me to stop whatever I’m doing and lose myself down the rabbit hole to watch every single video in the thread. The same thing happened a few months back when Alexander wrote a viral thread on how cartoons gave us an education in classical music without us realizing it.

Fortunately for us, there are hundreds upon hundreds of Looney Tunes shorts at our disposable, many of which are available to stream on HBO Max. (See? Corporate synergy!) So instead of tuning into Space Jam: A New Legacy—or, perhaps, after you watch it—here are just a few to get you started:

  • What’s Opera, Doc?: The ultimate Bugs Bunny/Elmer Fudd showdown dressed with the ultimate Richard Wagner operatic parody. 
  • Duck Amuck: A master class on the ins and outs of animation, distilled in a way that anyone can understand.
  • Rabbit of Seville: If you’ve heard of The Barber of Seville, this might be part of the reason why.
  • Feed the Kitty: Giant dog + tiny cat + a lot of feelings = comedy gold.
  • One Froggy Evening: Good luck getting “Hello! Ma Baby” out of your head after watching this singing frog who only performs for a crowd of one.

Michelle Jaworski, Staff Writer


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Disney+
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Sexy Beasts/Netflix
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Sexy Beasts misses a chance to be truly revealing

The basic concept of Sexy Beasts is not new; dating shows have long hid contestants from each other in hopes that personality trumps basic instinct. This series adds in professional prosthetics, turning contestants into dolphins, frogs, and aliens. The six episodes that debut this week fail to reflect the weirdness or potential of that premise.

Sexy Beasts originally aired one season on the BBC in 2014, but the “unmasking” concept is more in the zeitgeist now: Fox’s The Masked Singer just ended its fifth season, and the channel debuts a new singing competition series in the fall in which contestants perform as avatars. The similarity might help draw in viewers, but the episodes are all under 30 minutes each, which allows for the mechanics of the competition and not much else.

Audra Schroeder, Senior Writer


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Chuck Zlotnick/Marvel Studios
CULTURAL OBSESSIONS

Why the MCU’s lighting kind of sucks

Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) fandom is a fount of strong opinions, some of which I find wholly understandable (Tilda Swinton’s role was a fiasco; Sebastian Stan is an underrated gem) while others are a little more… puzzling. In the latter category, it’s always bizarre to see people praise the MCU’s lighting. Unlike the artistic vigor of the comics, Disney’s Marvel franchise delivers film after film that can best be described as “murky.” That includes the popular technique of just blasting a scene with a single color.

This month saw the release of Black Widow and the Loki finale, both involving a lackluster lighting strategy. Black Widow‘s final sequence includes flashes of red to break up the gray undertones of a traditional Marvel battle, while Loki concludes in a purple castle—after fighting a purple CGI behemoth in episode 5. In both examples, the result is deceptively monotonous. While Loki‘s purple color scheme is initially eye-catching, the low-contrast lighting makes it hard to make out the characters’ facial expressions.

Gavia Baker-Whitelaw, Staff Writer


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*First Published: Jul 21, 2021, 1:31 pm CDT