LOS ANGELES (AFP) – French skunk Pepe Le Pew will not appear in an upcoming Space Jam sequel and is not planned to feature in any new Looney Tunes cartoons, sources familiar with the productions told AFP on Wednesday, as a debate swirls over sexism and “cancel culture” in Hollywood.
The lovelorn cartoon animal – who spends most of his time in luckless pursuit of a female cat who is repelled by his advances and noxious smell – hit the headlines last week after a New York Times columnist said Pepe “normalised rape culture”.
Days later, it emerged that a live-action scene for this summer’s cartoon-hybrid Space Jam: A New Legacy featuring Pepe had been filmed in 2019, but will not appear in the final cut – prompting claims that the decades-old character was the latest victim of heavy-handed political correctness.
The scene would have featured a typically amorous Pepe getting his comeuppance, but was abandoned when the film’s director changed and had never reached the stage of rendering the skunk’s animations.
There are currently no plans for Pepe to appear in Warner Bros’ Looney Tunes Cartoons or upcoming series Bugs Bunny Builders and Tweety Mysteries, although the decisions were made by the shows’ individual producers.
The character has not been officially banned or retired.