Brock Benson | Civil Patriot
Sometimes the stories are so out there that you have to wonder if they are a joke. Such is the case with the latest saga of cancel culture.
Pepé Le Pew, that romantic French soul, has been canceled.
His crime? Sexual harassment.
(Did I mention he’s a cartoon?)
In a scene from Space Jam 2 Pepé was scheduled to make an appearance in a black-and-white Casablanca-like sequence. In the scene, Pepé, who plays the role of a bartender, begins hitting on a woman at the bar.
He kisses her arm, she pulls back, then yanks Pepé into the chair next to her. Then she dumps her drink on him and slaps him. There’s more to the scene than that, but you get the gist of it.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I grew up watching many similar scenes—of the animated and not-so-animated variety. Pepe’s behavior is over-the-top and meant to be funny. Ooh-laa-laa. But apparently, it’s not so funny these days, even in animated form.
(Can I deviate from this story for a moment to say that Pepé is sounding a lot like a certain Governor we all know from New York?)
Oh, but wait. . .there’s more. The makers of Space Jam 2 meant to use this scene to drive home the point that such behavior is inappropriate.
Pepé explains that the cat has filed a restraining order against him and he is then told (by LeBron James) that Pepé can’t grab other tunes without their consent.”
Actress Santo, (who played the role of the woman in the bar), was not amused by this cut. In fact, she had this to say about the deleted scene:
“Even though Pepé is a cartoon character, if anyone was going to slap a sexual harasser like him, Greice wished it would be her,” a Santo representative said in a statement to Deadline. “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 Pepé’s behavior is unacceptable.”
I guess this is what happens when you start using cartoon characters to share a message. You run into problems.
So, Pepé is being retired. They’re sending him to that great sexual harassment condo in the sky, where he’s never to be heard from again.
The people behind Space Jam: A New Legacy decided to axe Pepé before a New York Times columnist posted that the animated French skunk was a normalizer of rape culture.
Never mind the fact that the scene was meant to teach what not to do. Pepé’s gone forever.
Meanwhile, in the state of New York, a very real Pepé is hanging on for dear life, wondering if—or when—his ooh-laa-laa antics will land him in cancel culture prison, too.
One can only hope it won’t take long.