A long time ago I had a “Name That Trauma!” of my own solved in our comments section. I can’t find the thread but thanks again to the kind person who identified “We The Animals Squeak!” as the cartoon I was trying to recall. I’ve decided I must give this animated short a spotlight post of its own because it’s always reappearing in my brain for some reason. “We the animals…” is not scary or creepy but it does capture an awful feeling that I wish there was a catchall word for. What is the opposite of Schadenfreude? “Sympathy” and “pity” are too passive to cut it. I’m talking about an aggressive anguish when witnessing the misfortune of another, a weird nausea of some sort. You know that video of the news lady falling down while stomping on grapes? I know I’m meant to find that amusing but I can’t make myself do it. It only makes me wince and grit my teeth and recoil. What’s wrong with me? I want to have fun at the expense of others too! It’s not because I’m a nice person! I don’t feel any remorse for Miss Collins collateral damage death in CARRIE and I only recycle begrudgingly.
“We The Animals squeak” is a radio show hosted by Porky Pig and what a good fit radio is for a guy who refuses to wear pants. After a fluffy bunny finishes reminiscing about killing a hunter with his own gun to unanimous applause, we are introduced to Kansas City Kitty, a mother cat with an Irish brogue and a tale of woe. Kansas tells us briefly about her childhood and her rise to notoriety as an unstoppable mouser. Of course, for every successful person there are dozens of vermin plotting to take them down and in this case, it is a clandestine Mafioso mouse clique that devises a despicable plan. They kidnap KCK’s newborn and threaten to slice its throat and shoot it with a machine gun if she raises a paw to thwart their nightly fridge raids. I know mice gotta eat too and there’s a possibility that the threats of infanticide were of the empty kind, but what happens next is an atrocity. Not content with their new carte blanche privileges, the mice torment, psychologically torture and openly mock KCK’s pain in an orgy of depravity. To the tune of “playmate” the frenzied mob even have the audacity to use their prisoners tail as a make shift jump rope knowing that she must yield as her child’s life hangs in the balance.
I guess I was not exactly a happy-go-lucky kid because I took this scene clearly intended for comedy literally and it disturbed me. I must have associated Kansas City Kitty with my own mother (or cat) because it also made me angry. Is there anything grosser than exploiting somebody’s concern for those whom they care about? I hate these mice. They’re gluttons and clearly racist and how dare they. By the end of the cartoon, Kansas City is presented with a mouse gift (wha?) and I think we’re meant to think she made the whole thing up when she jumps on the chair and screams, but my take is that she is simply having a well earned psychotic episode triggered by the creature. Do you blame her after what appears to be hours of humiliating torture while her child’s life was at stake? I know I sound ridiculous but the truth is I can’t watch a home invasion flick, the kidnapping of the baby in THE HILLS HAVE EYES, or any kind of torture/prisoner schtick without flashing back to the scene described in my head. Really, this is the same dynamic that made Jack Ketchum’s THE GIRL NEXT DOOR so appalling. Brutality is one thing, but using your victim’s humanity as leverage is a whole other level of sadism.
In other words, I love this cartoon. It may sound like I don’t like the things that strike me as horrendous but I absolutely do. Negative behavior enforces my appreciation for positive behavior and this cartoon represents one of my earliest memories of being outraged and disgusted by the deeds of others; mice though they may be. Plus like any revenge flick worth its salt “We The Animals…” provides a nice slice of comeuppance for its miniature terrorists. It’s not exactly a high school in flames, but it will do.