Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Rabbits show up everywhere...

Even in controversial books. In 2003 Andy Riley published "Book of Bunny Suicides: Little Fluffy Rabbits Who Just Don't Want To Live Anymore." A book of comics, simple pen and ink drawings showing preposterous clever and inventive ways to end it all. If you have a dark sense of humor, you would probably chuckle.

But dark humor often backfires, for those who do not appreciate it are often gravely offended. Some five years later, this has happened.

One Mom here in Oregon wants to burn it.

The book isn't about rabbits, nor it really about suicide. Those are both serious issues. The issue here is the concept of duality; pairing something cute with something macabe, for a string of visual gags that appeal to those with a sense of gallows humor--and in tough times, who doesn't? The book doesn't suggest violence against rabbits, or against anyone else. There are a number of silly cultural references, my favorite being the bunny showing up in the Space Invaders video game.

Sometimes the humor is in the sheer lengths taken... such as the multi-frame cartoon showing a bunny at a computer ordering a hardback copy of Harry Potter's new 700 page book, paying with credit card, then waiting patiently below the mail slot until the mailman delivers it, bonking him on the head.

(A quick Google on the book title will take you to page with some of the pages, which are simple pen and ink drawings; there is no graphic gore, the images are cartoons, and not realistic. I grew up watching Tom and Jerry cartoons and I can't say this even registered with me as something of concern, as an adult.)

I would have always assumed the book was for and aimed at adults, however. It would NEVER dawn on me that a school librarian would allow a book into the collection, even in a high school.

The book has raised the ire of some parents who have found it within high school libraries, and also amongst those who adore rabbits. China has banned the book, and a parent in Portland, OR was incenced to find the book in the library of her child's high school. I can't say I'd find it appropriate for a school library, either, thinking adults would be the proper market target.

But it goes to show that strong cultural icons bunnies are, the epitome of sweet, innocent and cute.

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