Pepé Le Pew, the sex-pest skunk from Looney Tunes has had his appearance in Space Jam: A New Legacy (2021) cancelled.
Despite starring in the first Warner Bros. Space Jam movie in 1996, Pepé Le Pew will not show up at all in the upcoming theatrical sequel Space Jam: A New Legacy on July 16.
The reason? Well, mainly that Pepe is renowned for being a French pervert, to the point where New York Times columnist, Charles M. Blow, recently said the cartoon character “added to rape culture.”
In fact, a hybrid live-action animation scene shot in June 2019 and featuring both Pepe Le Pew and Jane the Virgin actress, Greice Santo, was cut entirely from the movie, according to Deadline.
Filmed by A New Legacy’s first director Terence Nance, and later cut by Malcolm D. Lee, his replacement, the scene was described as follows:
“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.”
There’s a lot to unpack here. Where did LeBron James come from? Why is Pepe just coming across the concept of consent now? Are ‘Tunes’ as innately fucked up as the humans who created them?
We don’t have answers to any of those questions yet.
cowards, the pepé le pew rehabilitation arc woulda went crazy https://t.co/8L66HqPEx6
— father (@father) March 8, 2021
However, while Santo is an advocate against sexual harassment and the owner of the non-profit ‘Glam with Greice’ – which works to help victims of domestic violence – she was upset about the decision to remove Pepé as she believes that “the skunk finally gets his comeuppance.”
“This was such a big deal for Greice to be in this movie,” a spokesperson for Santo said. “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.”
In light of six Dr Seuss books being withdrawn for racist caricatures, Pepé Le Pew will likely see the same erasure across media in the future. While some are calling into question the ethics of censorship, especially the censorship of historical prejudices and attitudes, it’s easy to see why a pesty Pew isn’t making the cut in 2021.
With cancel culture trying to take down Pepe Le Pew and Speedy Gonzales, I feel the need to bring this up again. pic.twitter.com/vLfk7jxQAE
— Isaac Vargas (LUCA HYPE!) (@AnimationFan15) March 8, 2021
Warner Bros. also has no current TV series featuring the skunk and there are no plans to have him appear on Looney Toons, Tiny Toons Looniversary or any other future projects, according to Deadline.