The cartoon French skunk Pepe Le Pew will no longer be invited to the party. With the sequel of Michael Jordan’s Space Jam set for release this July, Pepe Lew Pew was stripped from the movie after his aggressive romantic advances were viewed to “perpetuate rape culture,” according to a report obtained by Deadline. In the 1996 film, Pepe Le Pew had a starring role, but that doesn’t mean he’ll be back for the highly-anticipated sequel to the hit movie that blended live-action and animation back when that required technological wizardry.
For the upcoming release of Space Jam: A New Legacy, viewers will not see an appearance from the cartoon skunk. Despite shooting a live-action scene featuring the skunk and actress Greice Santo, the filmmakers ultimately decided to completely remove the amorous skunk from the movie. The change came after new director Malcolm D. Lee took over the film and did not want to upset “woke” culture.
The deleted scene, according to Dateline, would have shown the skunk being punished for his unsolicited touching. The now-deleted scene featured the skunk as a bartender. He grabs the arm of a woman, played by Santo, and begins kissing it in his typical fashion. Santo’s character responds to the unwanted romantic advance by slapping the skunk across the face. She then pours a drink over the cartoon character’s head. That’s when NBA star LeBron James enters the scene and reprimands Pepe for grabbing other people without having their consent.
Santo is not pleased that her scene with the cartoon skunk was cut from the movie. She has been an outspoken activist, working to end sexual harassment. Her representative spoke to Dateline about director Lee removing the scene despite her working hard to perfect it.
“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,” the rep told Dateline. “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.”
Not long before news broke that the scene was cut, New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow (above) criticized Pepe Le Pew’s behavior of “normalizing rape culture.” However, sources close to the movie claim that Blow’s criticism was not the reason Le Pew was cut from the film.
Blow wrote: “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.”
Although the cartoon skunk was cut from the sequel to Space Jam, it seems that the director was not able to avoid controversy. Now, they have to contend with the backlash from their “woke” decision.
What do you think about Pepe Le Pew getting cut from Space Jam: A New Legacy?
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