He smells bad, he speaks French … and he is obsessed with the fairer sex. He is Pépé le Putois (Pepe le Pew in original version), a character from the Looney Tunes cartoons that we will not see again soon on the screens, large and small. Why is that ? We rewind the thread.
It all started with an editorial by journalist Charles M. Blow, published on March 3 in the New York Times. Commenting on the overseas withdrawal of several children’s books by Dr. Seuss, accused of perpetuating racial stereotypes, he felt that many cartoon characters were just as problematic and deserved to be reassessed against current criteria.
Among them, the famous Pépé, created in 1945 by the cartoonist Chuck Jones and guilty according to the journalist of contributing to the normalization of the culture of rape at each appearance where he ardently pursues the unfortunate Penelope the cat.
“He catches and kisses a girl he doesn’t know”
Harassed by “conservative blogs”, Charles M. Blow supported his theory three days later on Twitter by deciphering an excerpt from an episode featuring Pépé and Pénélope: “He grabs and kisses a girl he doesn’t know, repeatedly, without her consent and against her will. She struggles hard to get away from him but he doesn’t release her. He locks the door to prevent her from running away. . “
Chance or not, the specialized site Deadline revealed last weekend that Pépé le Putois had just been deleted from the next Space Jam 2, expected on screens when theaters reopen. After Michael Jordan in the 1996 film, basketball player LeBron James gives the answer to cartoon characters.
In a scene shot by the director, Malcolm D. Lee several months ago, Pepe was taking a woman by force in his arms before the player came to teach him a lesson. It was finally cut during the editing, without the Warner who produced the film giving any explanation.
Did the studio make the right decision? On the site Deadspin, journalist Julie DiCaro believes that Pépé le Putois deserved to be deleted (“canceled”, editor’s note), emphasizing that since its creation, “we have learned a lot about consent, as women struggle to gain recognition for their autonomy over their bodies”.
But she thinks it would have been better to keep the scene in question because “it would have been the opportunity to give a great lesson to Pépé and to all the children who will go to see the film (…) Well for Penelope who should have gone to see the police a long time ago!“.
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