Deadline reported on Sunday that the cartoon skunk, who was introduced in 1945, will not appear in Warner Bros. TV’s upcoming “Space Jam: A New Legacy” film. Pepe Le Pew isn’t just getting benched for that upcoming feature; The Hollywood Reporter revealed on Monday that the character wouldn’t show up in any of the company’s other upcoming projects.
IndieWire has reached out to Warner Bros. TV for comment.
The Pepe reports surfaced several days after New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow wrote an article criticizing racism and other issues in children’s media. Blow argued that Pepe Le Pew, who is featured in a variety of old cartoons aggressively kissing and grabbing female characters against their will, “normalized rape culture.” Blow elaborated on the Pepe issue in a series of tweets and showcased an old cartoon clip that featured Pepe kissing a character against her will and locking her inside a room.
“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,” Blow said on Twitter. “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.”
Deadline noted in its Sunday report that a hybrid live-action animation scene featuring Greice Santo (“Jane the Virgin”) and Pepe Le Pew was shot for the upcoming “Space Jam” sequel in June 2019 but would not be included in the finished film.
Pepe Le Pew was a key character in several of Warner’s classic-era animated titles and has appeared in several contemporary projects, including the recently-concluded “New Looney Tunes” animated series. The character was originally voiced by iconic Looney Tunes voice actor Mel Blanc.
Blow’s New York Times column does not mark the first time the cartoon skunk has been singled out for his misogynistic behavior: Comedian Dave Chapelle slammed the character as a “rapist” in a well-known bit on children’s cartoons in his “Killin’ Them Softly” HBO comedy special in 2000.