Add a new one to conservatives outrage over cancel culture as news hit that Pepe Le Pew will not be appearing in the upcoming Space Jam movie. In case you don’t remember, Pepe Le Pew was the cartoon skunk who literally tried to grab her by the pussy.
Conservatives are NOT upset about the attempted “canceling” of an old horny governor who asks young woman if they’ve ever wanted to sleep with an old horny governor, but hands off our rapey cartoon characters for children.
Admittedly, the old Warner Bros. cartoons weren’t really written for children, but they probably made kids smarter. Bugs Bunny introduced children and adults to the William Tell Overture and Ride of the Valkyries while also opening our minds to the concept of a pistol-waving big mustache drawfy prospector marrying a rabbit in drag…when Elmer wasn’t trying to tap that Bugs booty (not knowing it was Bugs in drag, of course).
The best Warner Bros. Chuck Jones creation ever? For my money, Michigan J. Frog. Why? Great artwork, hilarious story, original music (Everybody’s doin’ the Michigan Rag) and he only appeared once which meant the same joke wasn’t repeated over dozens of cartoons. Plus, the frog never tried to rape or kill anyone, though he did put a guy into a mental institution.
Why isn’t Pepe going to be in the new Space Jam? For that matter, Michael Jordan isn’t going to be in it either but probably not because he was chasing female kittens despite them rejecting his advances. However, I do have an image of Andrew Cuomo doing Pepe’s hop-a-long chase he implements when he pursues his love interest, along with the music.
Space Jam: A New Legacy will come out on July 16, starring LeBron James. But Pepe won’t appear in it despite having a major smelly part in the 1996 original. The film is a mix of live action and animation. A scene between Pepe and Greice Santo was already filmed but has now been left on the cutting room floor. Now I gotta know. Did Pepe confuse Santo for a female skunk as he does with the cat? Turns out, probably not.
Apparently, all this came about because a New York Times columnist, Charles M. Blow, claimed Pepe Le Pew added to rape culture. Yeah, maybe. I can see it. The cat didn’t accept no. Seriously, when the female runs away from you and locks herself behind a door, then adds heavy objects in front of the door so you can’t open it, she’s not playing hard to get. That’s a no.
But, it’s a cartoon. It’s not explicit. And Pepe does eventually get his comeuppance when the cat decides she wants some Pepe, who has changed his mind, and she won’t accept no. But then again, Pepe only changed his mind over the cat after he wasn’t physically attracted to her anymore proving that he was never interested in her mind, personality, and probably didn’t care about her opinions on anything. It was always purely physical for that skunk.
According to Deadline, the cut Pepe scene was this:
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 toons without their consent.
That actually sounds like it SHOULD be in the movie. Maybe they can still include the part but replace Pepe with Andrew Cuomo. And in case you don’t remember, Lola is the hot female rabbit. Did I say “hot”?
Greice Santo’s publicist issued a statement to Deadline stating, “This was such a big deal for Greice to be in this movie. Even though Pepe is a cartoon character, if anyone was going to slap a sexual harasser like him, Greice wished it would be her. Now the scene is cut, and she doesn’t have that power to influence the world through younger generations who’ll be watching Space Jam 2, to let younger girls and younger boys know that Pepe’s behavior is unacceptable.”
I agree. In this context, put Pepe back in. This isn’t like the six Dr. Seuss books his estate pulled. If anything, it’s educational. And if Bugs can teach kids about classical music, then Pepe with Ms. Santos’ help can teach children, and possibly adult governors, about sexual harassment.
HBO has already removed all Elmer Fudd cartoons that include his shotgun. We may be going overboard a bit with this stuff. I’m not on the “cancel culture” tirade being embellished by Republicans. If you send terrorists to attempt a bloody coup, yeah. You should be taken off Twitter. But I’m not sure we need protection from a cartoon character wabbit hunting in the 1930s. It’s not like Elmer was using an Uzi while roaming school hallways. Plus, he usually only ends up shooting himself in the face…and Daffy. But we never actually see him enjoying a nice duck or rabbit dinner.
Keep in mind, I’m a cartoonist. It’s hard for me to be that supportive for banning cartoons I grew up with that helped make me the cartoonist I am today. I still have a hard time over the black maid’s accent being pulled in Tom and Jerry, and honestly, that was very racist. To me, it’s like erasing art. I’m opposed to removing the “N-Word” from Tom Sawyer for the same reason. If all that was to come with a warning label or disclaimer, I wouldn’t get upset over that. Tom Sawyer should definitely have a disclaimer, maybe in the same fashion as Pulp Fiction.
What’s the difference between that and the few Dr. Seuss titles? To me, the images in those particular Seuss books were overtly racist and they don’t contribute much to the legacy of Dr. Seuss. Now, if “Cat in the Hat” or “Green Eggs and Ham” were being pulled, I’d probably be upset.
We should not make light of rape culture. And let’s be honest. Pepe exhibited behavior that shouldn’t be championed. But then again, what cartoon behavior do we champion? In the context that Pepe was to be included, it sounds like pulling the scene does more harm than good. Pepe is iconic and there’s more to be gained from his inclusion than his removal.
I’m not excited about a Space Jam sequel anyway. From my understanding, there won’t be any Monstars either.
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