Monday, October 26, 2009

Yosemite Sam

Yosemite Sam is an American animated cartoon character in the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series of cartoons produced by Warner Bros. Animation. The name is somewhat alliterative and is inspired by Yosemite National Park. He is commonly depicted as a short-tempered and extremely grouchy cowboy with an intense hatred of rabbits, especially Bugs Bunny. In cartoons with non-Western themes, he uses various aliases, including "Chilkoot Sam" (named for the Chilkoot Trail; Sam pronounces it "Chilli-koot") in 14 Carrot Rabbit (although in the same cartoon, when he tries to gain Bugs Bunny's trust, he cleverly invents alias "Square-deal Sam"), "Riff Raff Sam" in Sahara Hare, "Sam Schulz" in Big House Bunny, "Seagoin' Sam" in Buccaneer Bunny, "Shanghai Sam" in Mutiny on the Bunny, and "Sam Von Schamm the Hessian" in Bunker Hill Bunny and many others.

While Sam's basic character is that of a cowboy, he wears a black mask (or actually, just a wide black outline on the outer sides of his eyes) to show that he's an outlaw. This is so associated with his persona that he still wears the mask, even when dressed as a duke, a riff, a pirate or a viking.

With all his bluff and bluster, Sam stands in contrast to Freleng's calmly cocky rabbit. Sam is significantly tougher and more aggressive than Elmer Fudd when challenging Bugs. He is also quicker to learn from his mistakes, and never falls for the same ploy twice. However, it is Sam's own cockiness that always gets the best of him; Bugs learns to deal with Sam upon learning that he is incapable of turning down a challenge. Every time Bugs dares Sam to "step across that line", Sam can't help but do so, even if he steps off into empty space or down a mine shaft.

While unscrupulous and ornery himself, Sam consistently displays an odd respect for religious conventions. Whenever he is preparing to shoot Bugs, he says, "Now say your prayers, Varmint!" Which of course gives Bugs enough time to foil his intentions.

Another chief foil of Sam's humor is the ludicrous lengths he'll go to just to "get even" -- often with disastrous results to himself and his surroundings.

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