Cancel culture takes no prisoners, and its latest casualty may be a character from our youth whom we may have never thought about in that way: Pepe Le Pew. It now has been confirmed the animated skunk will not be making an appearance in the upcoming movie Space Jam: A New Legacy with Lebron James.
While he did have a showing in the first one with Michael Jordan, Pepe’s new and only scene in the July 16 release found its way on the cutting room floor. According to Deadline‘s report, he is initially set in a bar and starts making his signature unwanted advances towards actress Greice Santo from the TV show Jane the Virgin. After Santo slaps him, and Pepe informs James and Bugs Bunny that he also has a restraining order against him filed by Penelope Pussycat, James lets Pepe know “[he] can’t grab other Tunes without their consent.”
Last week, New York Times columnist Charles Blow penned an article saying the Looney Tunes skunk’s portrayal “normalized rape culture” with his constant imposition of affection on his target despite his target’s clear disinterest.
“As a child, I was led to believe that Blackness was inferior. And I was not alone. The Black society into which I was born was riddled with these beliefs,” is how he starts off his piece titled “Six Seuss Books Bore a Bias.” Blow proceeds to relate, “It happened for children in the most inconspicuous of ways: It was relayed through toys and dolls, cartoons and children’s shows, fairy tales, and children’s books.” He then elaborated on social media and went in on the skunk, laying out his step-by-step argument against Pepe.
But while some on Twitterverse find the article timely and necessary but others consider it to be very virtue signaling; one person who is greatly upset with the scene’s removal is Greice Santo. Santo herself has been a target of sexual harassment, and per her statement to Deadline, she felt it would have poetic justice that she be the one to crack Pepe and send a message.
“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.”
Yet, for all the commotion, Blow’s article actually has nothing to do with Pepe’s deletion. It actually turns out the scene never made it to the final edit when it was removed by director Malcolm D. Lee. And according to early screenings of the flick, there is no recall of Pepe at all.