The Aniamaniacs reboot has come under fire for an unfortunately-timed joke centered on Johnny Depp, as what was intended as a reference to a once-popular internet meme was poorly received following legal recent developments in the actor’s personal life.
In an episode of the newly-produced Hulu reboot, in classic Warner sibling fashion, Yakko, Wakko, and Dot perform a musical number lampooning various Hollywood practices, such as, ironically, unnecessarily rebooting classic television series’ or producing American versions of successful foreign films, with a particular shot being taken at the Josh Brolin-led reboot of Park Chan-wook’s classic Korean thriller, Oldboy.
“Looney Toons, Queer Eye and Ducktales just rebooted, cuz it sells! / Take something foreign and translate it, shamelessly appropriate it, even if the new fans hate it, get the SCRIPT, RIGHTS, CLEARED!” sing the Warners.
In the next verse, Yakko mocks how studios have “done sequels, tried for prequels,” while pointing to two fake movie posters, one reading “Johnny: The Beginning” and the other, which served as the catalyst for the recent backlash against the series, promoting a fictional film starring Depp titled “Johnny 2: Telling Lies”.
Given how these posters depict an unattended, innocent-looking baby eating a bag of sugar and candy and bear the subtitle “Telling Lies”, respectively, it seems as though this visual gag was intended to serve as a reference to the ‘Johnny Johnny Yes Papa’ meme, which originated from a poorly-produced animated video set to a rendition of the eponymous nursery rhyme and depicts a small-child constantly denying that he’s eating sugar after his father happens to catch him in the act.
Johnny Johnny Yes Papa from Spring Nguyen on Vimeo.
Unfortunately for the Animaniacs, which began production in 2018, this joke was aired less than three weeks after a UK court ruled against Depp in his libel case against UK-based tabloid The Sun, which found themselves facing legal action after describing Depp as a ‘wife-beater’ following accusations by his ex-wife, Amber Heard.
Despite various evidence produced over the months-log trial showing how Heard was, herself, an abuser who held personal resentment towards her ex-husband, including testimony in which the Aquaman-star mocked that no one would believe Depp because he was a man and photographs showing she herself had violently sliced the actor’s finger, Justice Nichol concluded that “Seen in isolation, the evidence that Mr Depp assaulted Ms Heard on this occasion might not be sufficient, [but] taken with the evidence as a whole, I find that it did occur.”
“Although he has proved the necessary elements of his cause of action in libel, the Defendants have shown that what they published in the meaning which I have held the words to bear was substantially true,” Justice Nichol added. “In those circumstances, Parliament has said that a defendant has a complete defense. It has not been necessary to consider the fairness of the article or the defendants’ ‘malice’ because those are immaterial to the statutory defence of truth.
In light of this ruling, many believed the Animaniacs’ sight gag to be an intentional sleight towards Depp, with the ‘Telling Lies’ subtitle being taken as a direct endorsement of Heard’s allegationsm, and took to social media to express both their disappointment in the joke and their support for the veteran Hollywood actor.
“I am completely shocked by the way @WBHomeEnt mocked Johnny Depp and his abuse story in their new Animaniacs show,” wrote @silence_exile. “This absolutely disgusting. WHERE’s YOUR HUMANITY?? #JusticeForJohnnyDepp”.
@712Allyana asserted that the joke was “disgusting” and announced that she was “going to boycott anything that comes from Warner Brothers right now, and I’m sure there will be millions.”
“To assume he’s lying is in bad taste,” she added. “DV survivors stand behind him.”
“Here I was worrying about Animaniacs being *too* political,” said @AngelicRoni. “Now you’re telling me they mocked Johnny Depp? The man who got part of his finger cut off by Amber? The man who was ignored despite countless proof in his favor?”
She would then exclaimed that she was “f—ing disusted.”
As of writing, no response to this outcry has been made by either Warner Bros., Hulu, or anyone involved in the production of Animaniacs.
What do you make of this joke? Do you think it was a victim of unfortunate timing or a genuine attack on Depp? Let us know your thoughts on social media or in the comments down below!