A New York Times columnist made a big stink about the iconic Looney Tunes character Pepé Le Pew in an article that touched on the character’s rapey behavior. It’s was also revealed that a scene featuring the horny skunk was removed from LeBron James’ Space Jam: A New Legacy.
As of late, there has been a lot of revisionist history when it comes to certain old shows, literature, and cartoons. Columnist Charles M. Blow had right-wing Twitter in their feelings after dropping an opinion column calling out the French cartoon skunk and that he “added to rape culture,” plus highlighted six Dr. Suess books for being problematic. He also mentions Speedy Gonzalez promoting the drunk, lazy Mexican trope.
Following the article’s release and tweet, the GOP had a hard-on for days crying about what they call the “canceling of Dr.Suess and Mr. Potato Head.”
In the Tweet, Blow shared a clip of Le Pew going hard trying to “woo” his longtime object of affection, Penelope Pussycat, Blow wrote:
“RW blogs are mad bc I said Pepe Le Pew added to rape culture. Let’s see. 1. He grabs/kisses a girl/stranger, repeatedly, w/o consent and against her will. 2. She struggles mightily to get away from him, but he won’t release her 3. He locks a door to prevent her from escaping.”
Blow’s tweet plus his column ruffled a few feathers, but he wasn’t the first person to point out Le Pew’s very problematic behavior. Dave Chappelle joked about Le Pew’s rapey behavior in his 2000 stand-up special Killin’ Them Softly. The comedian spoke on how significantly different the cartoon character’s actions looked as an adult. It also had him looking at the cartoon much differently.
It would also appear that Warner Bros. has also been paying attention to the complaints about Le Pew as well. Deadline reports that the character who did appear in the first Space Jam movie was axed from the second film altogether. LeBron James and actress Greice Santo’s original scene was supposed to serve as a teachable moment for the Le Pew, but the studio decided not to go with it.
The live-action scene was filmed by the pic’s first director, Terence Nance. As we first reported in July 2019, Nance left the production with Malcolm D. Lee taking over. Under the direction of Lee, Pepe Le Pew was eliminated from the sequel a while ago and never animated for the live-action footage which was shot.
Pepe was set to appear in a black-and-white Casablanca-like Rick’s Cafe sequence. Pepe, playing a bartender, starts hitting on a woman at the bar played by Santo. He begins kissing her arm, which she pulls back, then slamming Pepe into the chair next to hers. She then pours her drink on Pepe, and slaps him hard, sending him spinning in a stool, which is then stopped by LeBron James’ hand. James and Bugs Bunny are looking for Lola, and Pepe knows her whereabouts. Pepe then tells the guys that Penelope cat has filed a restraining order against him. James makes a remark in the script that Pepe can’t grab other Tunes without their consent.
According to her spokesperson, Santo, a victim of sexual harassment, was upset after learning the scene was axed, Deadline reports.
So is this a legit beef with the character? Or is Blow making a big deal about nothing? Let us know how you feel in the comment section below.
Photo: LMPC / Getty