Pepe Le Pew, the French “Looney Tunes” skunk, will not appear in “Space Jam: A New Legacy.”
The cartoon skunk was set to make an appearance in the sequel to the beloved 1997 film, “Space Jam.”
The news comes as Pepe Le Pew and other cartoon characters face heavy criticism for their alleged perpetuation of rape culture, stereotypes, and racism.
What are the details?
According to a Monday report from Deadline, a hybrid live-action animation scene that featured Pepe Le Pew and actress Greice Santo was shot in 2019.
Terence Nance, the film’s first director, originally shot the scene, which was later cut by director Malcolm D. Lee, his replacement.
The scene, according to the report, was never even animated.
According to Deadline, “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.”
Santo said that she was upset to learn that the skunk was cut from the film because she believed “the skunk finally gets his comeuppance.”
“This was such a big deal for Greice to be in this movie,” a spokesperson for the actress 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.”
The news has gone viral amid New York Times’ columnist Charles Blow’s editorial piece accusing the character of perpetuating rape culture.
In the highly charged piece, Blow writes, “Some of the first cartoons I can remember include 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.”
Looney Tunes | Pepe Le Pew Collection – Who Scent You? | Warner Bros. Entertainment