Why was Pepe Le Pew canceled? 'Looney Tunes' skunk's scene in 'Space Jam 2' could have been a teaching moment

Earlier it was reported that Le Pew, who appeared in the 1996 film ‘Space Jam’ and was due to appear in one scene in ‘Space Jam: A New Legacy’, was removed from the film. Now, Pepé will unlikely feature in any future Warner Bros. project


                            Why was Pepe Le Pew canceled? 'Looney Tunes' skunk's scene in 'Space Jam 2' could have been a teaching moment
A scene from 'Space Jam' featuring Pepé Le Pew and Michael Jordan (IMDb)

If you’ve seen ‘Looney Tunes’ and ‘Merrie Melodies’, you know who Pepé Le Pew is -- the French striped skunk who is constantly (and rather aggressively) on the quest for love. Earlier it was reported that Pew, who appeared in the 1996 film ‘Space Jam’, and was due to appear in one scene in ‘Space Jam: A New Legacy’, was removed from the film. 

As per new reports, however, Le Pew is not featured in any current Warner Bros. TV projects and there are no current plans for the controversial cartoon skunk to return. As per reports, in ‘Space Jam: A New Legacy’, the bit featuring the skunk that was deleted had Le Pew smooching and slobbering all over a live-action woman at a bar styled after Rick’s Cafe in ‘Casablanca’. As per the norm in Le Pew’s stories, he was also rebuffed by her.

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Pepé Le Pew. (Warner Bros.)

Pepé Le Pew’s now-deleted role could have been good

Le Pew in the film plays a bartender who starts hitting on a woman at the bar played by Greice Santo, Deadline reported Sunday. He reportedly begins kissing her arm, which she pulls back, then slamming the skunk into the chair next to hers. She then pours her drink on him, and slaps him hard, sending him spinning in a stool. This when he is reportedly stopped by LeBron James’ hand.

As per reports, in the cut footage, Le Pew also reportedly mentioned a restraining order obtained by Penelope Pussycat, the usual object of his desires. Following this, LeBron James reportedly informs the skunk that he can’t grab other ‘Looney Tunes’ characters without their consent. 

The scene reportedly was shot in June 2019 by filmmaker Terence Nance. Greice Santo’s role, as per Deadline, has also been cut along with Le Pew. A spokesperson for Santo said, “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.”

Actress Greice Santo attends the GUESS Originals cocktail party at Perch on October 20, 2016, in Los Angeles, California. (Getty Images)

Why has Pepé Le Pew been canceled?

Le Pew was first introduced in 1945 and was originally voiced by Mel Blanc. Last week, New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow wrote about the decision of Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the business that preserves and protects the author’s legacy, to stop publishing six of his books because of racist and insensitive imagery. The books in question are ‘And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street’, ‘If I Ran the Zoo’, ‘McElligot’s Pool’, ‘The Cat’s Quizzer’, ‘Scrambled Eggs Super!’, and ‘On Beyond Zebra!’. 

In his column, Blow wrote: Some of the first cartoons I can remember included Pepé Le Pew, who normalized rape culture; Speedy Gonzales, whose friends helped popularize the corrosive stereotype of the drunk and lethargic Mexicans; and Mammy Two Shoes, a heavyset Black maid who spoke in a heavy accent.”

Blow’s column caused outrage. He later tweeted, “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.”

He added, “This helped teach boys that “no” didn’t really mean no, that it was a part of “the game”, the starting line of a power struggle. It taught overcoming a woman’s strenuous, even physical objections, was normal, adorable, funny. They didn’t even give the woman the ability to SPEAK.”



 

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