Where the Heck Is My Lola Bunny Merch?
I unabashedly love Space Jam. I have rewatched it several times. For my 21st birthday, my friends and I gathered to drink and watch Space Jam. It’s a staple of my childhood, and no matter what the generation before me says, it’s a classic and hopefully one day the Library of Congress will preserve it. That being said, there’s one thing that annoys me about Space Jam: the merch.
Two years ago, when the 20th anniversary of Space Jam was being celebrated, I was excited because that meant Space Jam swag—more importantly, Lola Bunny merch. Except, out of all the merch I saw being paraded, there was nothing really showing off Lola, not even a poorly rendered pair of sweatpants from Forever21. I was disappointed, but I put it out of my mind until I recently went to Forbidden Planet and saw this:
As you can see, the Tune Squad’s male roster are in their uniforms, and Lola, the token girl, is in her casual clothes in a casual “hey guys I’m just happy to be here” pose. Le sigh. Now, you might be wondering what’s the big deal? Let me tell you.
In the first quarter of the movie’s big game, she’s the only other member of the Tune Squad to make a shot besides Michael Jordan! She’s the only one who knows how to play basketball! Lola Bunny is the best player on that damn team besides Michael Jordan, and she doesn’t get to be portrayed as an athlete in an athletic pose, but the nincompoop boy toons do!?
Oh yeah, I love Lola Bunny. I’ve watched many a mediocre Looney Tunes cartoon just for her inclusion (pours one out for Loonatics Unleashed). It wasn’t until I joined the internet that I realized so many people hated the character.
Maybe it was just my youthful ’90s brain, but I did not understand the hatred that so many adult men have for Ms. Lola Bunny, a character who only has a total of 3 minutes of screen-time in the entire film. Whether or not she has a lot of “character” or “personality” for the whole 3 minutes she spends onscreen, she also doesn’t do anything worthy of such hate.
Lola was a character created to be the token girl, and like many characters of that ilk, it meant that she had to be a “tomboy” who was still “attractive” to both Bugs and a male audience. In this post-The Shape of Water world, we should stop acting as though people aren’t attracted to cartoon characters, but the intentions were mostly good, and for the moments she’s on the screen, what do we get? A confident girl kicking butt at basketball while all her male teammates (sans MJ) are useless at best.
The ’90s were filled with girl characters who were very much still a male idea of an “empowered” female character, but that doesn’t mean those characters didn’t have worth or importance to those who watched them. Lola Bunny was designed fit a certain idea of attractiveness and fill a far less than perfect role, but that doesn’t have to negate her accomplishments, especially when her appearance is not the most important thing about her. Even now, too many people joke about how no one watches the WNBA and throw around lesbian comments as insults. Besides Love and Basketball, how many movies have you seen that depict female basketball players in a positive way?
Don’t worry, I’ll wait.
I feel like somewhere along the line, the fact that she had “bunny boobs,” as the Nostalgia Critic put it once, and didn’t do anything “wacky” throughout the film got her tossed aside as a bad egg. Well, screw that. Almost every scene has her being shown as competent, holding her own, and being cool. Sure, she gets “saved” by Bugs once in the movie, but her introductory scene is her bodying Bugs in basketball.
Lola Bunny is a badass, and she did it all in less than five minutes, so I want my Lola Bunny merch when the 25th anniversary comes around!
(image: Warner Bros.)
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