After years of production, long-time Looney Toons character Pepé Le Pew has been cut from Warner Bros. Space Jam: A New Legacy. The flick had originally filmed scenes with the character under director Terence Nance, but after he was replaced on the project by Malcolm D. Lee it has been decided that the character, and footage, will no longer be used.
Looney Toons has come under fire in the past for being politically incorrect with their characters. The company has gradually made changes, like removing Yosemite Sam and Elmer Fudd’s gun use last year. It was only a matter of time before Warner Bros. stepped up and made bigger changes surrounding their out-of-date characters and content.
Pepé Le Pew’s character has gained attention on social media recently. New York Times Columnist Charles M. Blow sounded off on Twitter about how the sexually inappropriate skunk adds to rape culture. Blow states that the character’s behaviour “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.” Most people are commenting on Blow’s Tweet in agreement, one person even stating that they use Pepé Le Pew to teach people what NOT to do as an Employment Lawyer.
The original scene that was cut from the script was described by deadline.com, “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.”
Greice Santo, best known for her role on Jane the Virgin, was the character alongside the animated animal in the footage. A spokesperson for Santo spoke out about the cut scene, ““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.”
Whether the character should have been cut or not is up for debate, but opinions across the board agree that Pepé Le Pew’s behaviour is intolerable. Space Jam: A New Legacy is set to release July 14, 2021, hopefully as old fans we will see how Looney Toons has grown with us.
Space Jam: A New Legacy dropped its trailer today. Check out LeBron James and Don Cheadle fight it out with some help from Bugs Bunny along the way!