I grew up on Looney Tunes, but my favorite – by far – were the ones featuring the Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner. Now that several decades have passed, having witnessed the 575th anvil fall on the head of poor Carnivorous Vulgarus and the 963rd rock crush his emaciated canine body, I had to ask myself: why do we like these Looney Tunes – and particularly this one – so much? Why has he endured (particularly with so many concussions and bodily trauma)?
If you’ve never seen an episode, you can check out the classic “Fast and Furryous” (NOT a film with Vin Diesel) HERE.
I have seen everything that is done under the sun and behold, all is vanity (vapor, breath) and a striving after wind. – Ecclesiastes 1:14
We laugh at the Coyote, scoff at the coyote, and root for him all at the same time… why? Do we love seeing others hurt? Do we thrive on seeing others fail? Does it make it feel better about ourselves? There are probably some insidious reasons people love watching slapstick and pratfalls, but deep down beneath our own sin and cynicism I think the original root goes deeper. Wile E. Coyote is the everyman, reflecting our own futile struggles in this life to obtain satisfaction.
Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way. – Proverbs 19:2
The Road Runner is not truly something tangible, but merely represents the unattainable… a satisfaction that we know exists yet continually eludes our grasp; Coyote is obsessed with catching the Road Runner, certain that he will be sated and complete. he employs his body to no avail, then resorts to using his mind to cook up elaborate schemes. Tricks and deception are also attempted to gain what he wants, with an equal lack of success.
He then turns to science, to technological superiority, but these also fail to bring him his desired end. Indeed, Acme seems to exist purely as a form of systemic evil, promising better results through technology yet only exchanging the Coyote’s simple problems for more complex ones. His efforts, and his goal, never satiate his hunger. Behold, they are all a delusion; their works are nothing; their metal images are empty wind. – Isaiah 41:29
This fruitless chase to fill a longing in our lives is all too familiar, and it’s tragic because we, like the Coyote, fail to realize that it is something we can never satisfy by our own devices, “Wile-ing” away the hours of our lives on meaningless pursuits instead of finding our foundation on that which truly makes us whole. I laugh because that is what I have been, and can still be, but for the grace of God: another crazy clown on the Road Runner Show.