Snopes.com frequently irritates me with their liberal use of the blanket terms "True" and "False" to denote things they have no way of knowing about. What generally happens is they come up with a plausible explanation for something and decide that this had to be what happened. I feel that it is irresponsible of them to go around claiming things as true or false on a flimsy basis when the entire internet treats them as the be-all-end-all source for the truth about sketchy things. They need to be more honest and broaden up their determinations a bit.
The most recent example of this is Phallus in Bugs Bunny Cartoon. In it they do no more than suggest a POSSIBLE explanation for the mystery flesh, yet they outright claim that it is "False." Here's the picture in question for those that don't feel like clicking over:
Their claim is that a white area on Bugs Bunny's crotch (that's much more impressive in the video) is, in actuality, just the tub behind behind him, and that what looks like a penis is just the natural curvature of Bugs's legs. Never minding the fact that Bug's's's legs never, ever, extend up into his abdomen, this answer just doesn't hold water for me. I downloaded the video off YouTube, extracted the three frames in question and examined everything thoroughly, and -- guess what -- I have reached an entirely different conclusion than the one they did.
The first thing I did was look for other pictures of Bugs with legs extending into his abdomen. Go ahead and watch the video for yourself, where you can see Bugs in that same position several times without ever having his legs extend up that high:
It just doesn't happen... they stop below his abdomen. That said, his legs do seem a bit short in the 'penis' shot; if you WERE to extend Bugs' legs into his abdomen, the length would be about right.
The next thing I did was find a frame with that area of the tub unoccupied:
I then cut out Bugs and overlaid him atop the empty tub:
As you can see, the area that people are claiming to be a penis is now the same color as the tub -- much darker than the white area in the original shot. Clearly this means that Snopes is mistaken with their assessment of the situation. Rather than the tub, it's more likely that the white in question is supposed to be Bugs' towel draping around his backside.
Except for one little detail:
Bugs' towel can be clearly seen at several points in the episode tied ABOVE his tail, meaning that it could never be seen behind his legs in the first place:
So what's all this lead to? The 'penis' can only be one of two things: a) a penis snuck in by a feisty animator, or b) a result of a poorly-sketched-out Bugs with too short of legs that was quickly 'fixed' by extending his legs up into his abdomen. After all, there are only 3 frames affected by this problem, and who would ever know? It's not like nerds are obsessively going over these things with a fine-toothed comb, right?
In any case, without any way of ever knowing whether this was an animator goof or some animator shenanigans, we can't call the claim "True" or "False." I think the reasonable answer is the goof one, but it would be dishonest to say for certain one way or the other. Which is exactly what Snopes did, and does on a regular basis.
Wow, that is weird. It sure does seem to pop out when you watch the video. Whether it's a penis or a negative crotch space, either way, it isn't drawn very well. Looking at the screen cap I was hoping it would be some kind of knotted part of the towel, but it's hard to see how that could be in the video.
On a side note, I hereby put a curse on the head of anyone who makes a comment along the lines of "you have too much time on your hands". Shut up already with that inane internet mantra. Doing creative and amusing stuff like this is more interesting than 99% of what most humans are doing.
Seriously though, I'm in the 'poorly drawn legs' camp. I know these cartoons were made primarily for adults when they were first released but I'd like to think the minds behind them had a touch more sophistication to their humor.
I'd like to chime in as a guy who went to animation school, and had to do a bunch of traditional animation. Even with my own characters, from my own character sheets, doing my own actions, I quite often couldn't tell what I was looking at after an hour or two of animating diligently over a light table. I'd think "What is this line? What am I doing? Is this part of the desk behind him?" Then I'd scroll back through pages and pages, watching as things moved. Often that would clear it right up, but almost as often, I'd just accept that a rogue line got in there (after all - they're not in color in the beginning, and it's all just lines on lines), and either erase it, and see how it looked riffling through the pages again, or leave it, and figure no one would care. Cheats like what you mentioned, to fix the height of legs ran rampant in my class, and a lot of times we'd slow-mo through people's work during critiques, and people would say, e.g. "you know that vase just disappeared for 5 frames?" or "he keeps getting fatter as the animation progresses," to which we would respond "Whoops!" or similar :)
Kids snuck things in, too, however, so that can never be fully discredited, but this one seems pretty obviously a last-minute fix to the too-short leg problem.
The author lives in Vancouver, Washington, USA with his girlfriend and a menagerie of cats, rats, fish, birds, guinea pigs and robots.
Among other inanities, he strives to use investigative techniques to work young starlet breasts into every aspect of rational discourse -- focusing on the discourse, thus making it not perverted. Also, has recently begun a career as "Internet hairstylist."
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