Today let’s look at the 1950 Bugs Bunny cartoon “Hillbilly Hare” (widely available on DVD). Leaving aside the very 1950s attitudes toward the South and toward rural poverty, this cartoon is best known for its long Square Dance sequence. It has also been extensively censored for its violence. But what do we notice?
- Bugs Bunny is playing fiddle, and the fiddle is known as “the devil’s instrument.”
- The brothers, Curt and Punkinhead Martin, are clearly terrified but unable to resist following any square-dance call, no matter how painful, degrading, or potentially fatal. They are under a geas.
- Curt and Punkinhead are unable to cross running water (they make it half-way across the bridge, then re-emerge from the water on the same side that they entered).
And when does all this start? After the Martins vow, “We’ll get that critter ifn it takes until Doomesday,” in the Greenwood. Anyone with a basic knowledge of folklore would know that swearing an oath like that either in the greenwood or on the ocean (see, for example, Peter Rugg the Missing Man of Boston, the Flying Dutchman, and numerous other examples) would have a bad outcome.
I suspect that Sam and Dean Winchester should investigate that Wascally Wabbit. They’ve already met The Trickster. They know what to do.