After the decision to cut Pepe Le Pew from Space Jam: A New Legacy, Warner Bros. announced the cartoon skunk will not appear in any future projects.
The controversial skunk Pepe Le Pew will not appear in any upcoming Warner Bros. projects. This comes after the news that Pepe Le Pew’s only scene in Space Jam: A New Legacy was cut by director Malcolm D. Lee who took over the project from the previous director Terence Nance. First introduced to the Looney Tunes in 1945, Pepe Le Pew is a French striped skunk who is incessantly on the pursuit of romance, although his intolerable odor and aggressive behavior constantly repel other characters.
The scene in question was reportedly a spoof of the 1942 classic Casablanca that features Pepe in the role of a bartender. The cartoon skunk begins by flirting with a woman played by Jane the Virgin actress Greice Santo, but Pepe’s advances soon become threatening, including him kissing her on the arm without consent, leading to the woman slapping Le Pew. Later on, Pepe admits that Penelope Pussycat has filed a restraining order against him, to which LeBron James reprimands him about touching others without their consent. Santo publicly expressed her disappointment with the scene being cut since she believed it had the power to teach young viewers that Pepe’s behavior is unacceptable.
Now, after being cut from the Space Jam sequel, it is being reported that Pepe Le Pew is not a part of any current Warner Bros. projects and there are no plans for him to return in the future, according to THR. This includes the new Looney Tunes series currently streaming on HBO Max and any future feature films, effectively retiring Pepe Le Pew from the cartoon’s canon.
While the decision to cut Pepe Le Pew from Space Jam: A New Legacy and scrub the cartoon skunk from all future projects was reportedly made over a year ago, the news has come to light days after an opinion piece by Charles M. Blow published in the New York Times accused Pepe Le Pew of having “normalized rape culture.” In his column, Blow also took aim at another Looney Tunes character, Speedy Gonzalez, for having aged badly.
Due to this sequence of events, many speculated that the decision was made in response to the NYT column. However, since the decision was made by Warner Bros. more than a year ago, the two events are actually unrelated. The rest of the Looney Tunes minus Pepe Le Pew can be seen when Space Jam: A New Legacy releases on HBO Max and in theaters on July 16th.