Pepe Le Pew Cut from Space Jam 2 Amid Sexual Harassment Allegations
French skunk cartoon character accused of 'normalizing rape culture'
Cartoon skunk Pepe Le Pew has been cut from the upcoming sequel to the 1990s hit movie Space Jam over allegations the animated French mammal has "normalized rape culture."
Le Pew had a starring role alongside NBA star Michael Jordan in the original Warner Bros. film in 1996.
However, he has now been cut out of the theatrical sequel Space Jam: A New Legacy, set for release on July 16, according to Deadline.
A live-action scene featuring actress Greice Santo interacting with Le Pew was shot in 2019 for the sequel.
But when sexual harassment allegations recently emerged against the cartoon character, the scene was cut from the movie by new director Malcolm D. Lee, sources told the outlet.
Le Pew has long courted controversy with his penchant for unwanted advances and inappropriate touching.
Ironically, Le Pew would have gotten his comeuppance at the hands of NBA star LeBron James in the scene deleted from the sequel, according to those who have seen the script.
According to Deadline, the deleted scene shows Le Pew as a bartender who grabs the arm of a woman - played by Santo - and begins kissing it.
Santo's character responds by slapping Le Pew and pouring a drink over his head, and James follows up by delivering a stern rebuke to the skunk, telling him that he cannot grab others without their consent.
A spokesperson for Greice Santo told the site: "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.
"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."
It comes after New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow said Pepe "added to rape culture."
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.— Charles M. Blow (@CharlesMBlow) March 6, 2021
In his article, Blow had written: "Some of the first cartoons I can remember included Pepe Le Pew, who normalized rape culture; Speedy Gonzales, whose friends helped popularise the corrosive stereotype of the drunk and lethargic Mexicans; and Mammy Two Shoes, a heavyset Black maid who spoke in a heavy accent."
After his comments sparked a backlash on social media, Blow tweeted: "[Right-wing] blogs are mad [because] I said Pepe Le Pew added to rape culture.
"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."