It looks like we’ve seen the last of Pepé Le Pew. Following news that the cartoon skunk was cut from the Space Jam sequel, the controversial character appears to be shelved for the time being. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Pepé is not featured in any current Warner Bros. TV projects, like the recent Looney Tunes revival, and there are no plans for him to return. However, much like his removal from Space Jam: A New Legacy, the decision was made well before Pepé was the subject of an op-ed in the New York Times that argued the character “added to rape culture.” THR reports that the call to leave Pepé out of future cartoons was made “more than a year ago.”
Of course, it should be noted that classic Looney Tunes shorts featuring Pepé Le Pew are still available on HBO Max. But while there isn’t a concerted effort to actually cancel Mr. Le Pew, it does seem like he is being retired. Naturally, this has turned the grabby French cartoon character into yet another political football for the type of people who have been on a recent tear about “cancel culture” run amok after incidences involving The Muppets, Mr. Potato Head, Dr. Seuss, and Star Wars.
However, Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn, who actually was “canceled” (albeit brielfy), has come out in defense of those who think having a discussion about Pepé Le Pew and rape culture is worth having. He even went so far as to agree that Pepé is “offensive because of the way he treats that cat.”
“Stop calling everything ‘cancel culture’ because you’re too dim to have a nuanced opinion,” Gunn tweeted. “People can be offended by something, or think something sucks, and that’s not ‘cancel culture’ – it’s free speech.”
(Via The Hollywood Reporter)