Ba-dee, a dee, that’s all, Pepé!
This week, Pepé Le Pew, the handsy French skunk of “Looney Tunes,” became the latest cultural fixture to get the guillotine when he was axed from the upcoming movie “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” amid shouts that the cartoon character is a rapist.
Dave Chappelle first pointed out Pepé’s pervy ways in a 2000 comedy special called “Killin’ Them Softly.” The comedian made a funny joke about him, we laughed and everybody moved on.
I grant you, some of those gropey old Pepé episodes can make you cringe nowadays as if they were part of a documentary about 2021 Albany.
But before Warner Bros. turned the little guy into roadkill, couldn’t they have first tried to change up the character’s image for the LeBron James-led sequel? Reportedly, in the cut scene he was going to learn something about consent. Pepé could’ve morphed into a harmless flirt, or a pretentious Frenchman instead of a lech.
Not this time. Le Pew is l’histoire. And, as you might imagine with an animated show that began in 1930, just about everyone and everything in “Looney Tunes” is objectionable by today’s puritanical standards.
Take Lola Bunny. In the new film, the fuzzy bombshell has been robbed of her hourglass figure and wears less form-fitting clothes to “desexualize” her. Call her Gertrude Hare. There have also been demands from New York Times columnist Charles Blow to nix Speedy Gonzales, a cute Mexican mouse.
Comedian Gabriel Iglesias, who voices Speedy in “A New Legacy” and whose parents, unlike Blow’s, are from Mexico, defended his beloved rodent on Twitter.
“U can’t catch me cancel culture,” he said. “I’m the fastest mouse in all of Mexico.”
So far, Warner Bros. have kept Speedy in the film, but don’t get your hopes up. The opinions of audiences no longer matter to Hollywood. Studios bow to lefty columnists and adjunct professors now in fear that, they too, might be canceled.
Hollywood will soon see that canceling old cartoons is a twicky wabbit hole.
Consider the cast of characters in the first “Space Jam” film. There’s Elmer Fudd, a hunter who totes around a rifle as he comically tries to murder Bugs Bunny. We can’t have him glorifying gun violence, now, can we? Speaking of the sneaky rabbit, in a racist 1944 World War II propaganda episode short called “Nips the Nips,” Bugs says to a Japanese soldier, “Here ya go, slant-eyes!”
OK, so Bugs and Elmer are fired. Who does that leave?
Daffy Duck isn’t squeaky clean, either. He gruesomely attempted suicide in the 1950 episode “The Scarlet Pumpernickel.” Playing a screenwriter who can’t sell his movie to Warner Bros., the bird puts a gun to his temple, says, “There was nothing for the Scarlet Pumpernickel to do but blow his brains out,” and pulls the trigger. Thankfully, the bullet misses his head and goes straight through his hat. Still, we’ll have to give suicide-joking Daffy the boot, too.
Save us, kind, innocent, edgeless Porky Pig! Sorry, guys. Adorable Porky is most famous for his stutter, a condition that’s been in the news a lot lately. President Biden, who made the fact that he’s mostly overcome his own speech impediment an odd selling point of his campaign, will surely come out and condemn poor Porky.
There are so few pure “Looney Tunes” left, WB might have cancel “A New Legacy” altogether. Tha-tha-that’s all folks!