The latest target of so-called "cancel culture" might be the classic"Looney Tunes"character, Pepé Le Pew, who first appeared back in 1945.
"New York Times" columnist Charles M. Blow recently said that Pepé added to RAPE CULTURE.
He said, quote, "Some of the first cartoons I can remember included 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."
Naturally, that hit a nerve during the charged hysteria over cancel culture, and it wasn't long before Blow was in the middle of a social media crossfire.
So, he shared a clipof Pepé, which shows him basically imprisoning Penelope Pussycat. He said, quote, "Blogs are mad because I said Pepé Le Pew added to rape culture. Let's see . . .
1. He grabs / kisses a girl / stranger, repeatedly, without consent, and against her will.
2. She struggles mightily to get away from him, but he won't release her.
3. He locks a door to prevent her from escaping.
"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.
"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."
Some people are defending Pepe by saying that Penelope tries to get away from him because she's actually a CAT, and that she's trying to get away because of his stink since HE is a skunk. And that Pepé always gets clowned in the end.
That's true . . . but it belies the point. Pepé chases after her with a serious romantic interest . . . and it doesn't matter why she wants to get away, the fact is that she is not interested, and is always struggling to free herself.
That said, this "accusation" is nothing new.
DAVE CHAPPELLE had a bit about Pepé being a rapist 20 years ago. The whole thing was about how old cartoons come across differently now than they did back in the day, when he used to laugh at them. (Here'sUNCENSOREDvideo.)
And"Looney Tunes" has previously acknowledged that things need to evolve. They've done stuff like eliminating the rifles from updated portrayals of Elmer Fudd. They haven't commented on this current freak-out over Pepé though.
Pepé will NOT be in the upcoming"Space Jam" sequel . . . even though he had a prominent role in the 1996 original, and WAS supposed to have a scene in the new movie.
Interestingly, thescenewas going to CALL OUT Pepé for his behavior toward women . . . and the actress from the live-action portion of the scene is MAD that it was cut.
Her rep says, quote, "Even though Pepe is a cartoon character if anyone was going to slap a sexual harasser like him, [she] wished it would be her."
But the decision to cut Pepé came "a while ago," and he was never actually animated for the new movie. So it didn't have anything to do with this freak-out.