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So I have a confession to make.
For the longest time, I thought it was “Looney Toons” and not “Looney Tunes”.
Alright fine, but in my defence it makes sense, right? I mean, they’re cartoons. Why would they be called “Tunes”?
Well, why indeed.
The reason the early series of cartoon shorts have names like “Looney Tunes”, “Merrie Melodies” and “Silly Symphonies” is because that’s what they were selling. Film studios like Warner Brothers did a tidy side business off their movie soundtracks by selling phonograph records and sheet music for playin’ on the ol’ pianey.
The idea was, you go to a movie and see, say, I Love to Singa’, and say to yourself “smartass owl thinks he’s so big, I could do that.” and before you know it you’ve gone down to the local music shop and blown the money you were saving in case you got tuberculosis (spoiler, you got tuberculosis). The unpleasant truth that I’m tip-toeing around here is that the Looney Tunes were, at least in their early days, basically advertisements.
Ergo, if you hate Space Jam because you don’t like to see your favourite characters schilling, I got bad news for you friends; They were schilling when your grandparents were throwing toys out of the pram.