'Added to rape culture': Looney Tunes character cut from 'Space Jam' sequel

Looney Tunes character Pepe Le Pew has reportedly been cut from the Space Jam sequel starring LeBron James, over concerns the character normalises rape culture. Pictures: Warner Bros.

As excitement continues to grow ahead of the release of the highly anticipated Space Jam sequel starring NBA great LeBron James, a new report has revealed how one Looney Tunes character was dropped from the film.

The long awaited sequel, which will release 25 years after the original starring Michael Jordan, will not feature pungent French skunk Pepe Le Pew.

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The character was reportedly dropped from the film despite scenes featuring him being partially completed, over criticisms the character 'normalised rape culture'.

The deleted scene reportedly featured Pepe Le Pew as a bartender who hits on actress Santo Greice's character, before she slaps him and pours water over him.

James then enters the scene, telling Le Pew he cannot touch others without consent.

The Looney Toons character's removal comes after criticism from New York Times writer Charles M. Blow posted a searing criticism of the ways in which Le Pew's character ignores the rejection of his sexual attention by female characters.

“Let’s see. 1. He grabs/kisses a girl/stranger, repeatedly, w/o consent and against her will,” he tweeted, with accompanying footage of a Pepe Le Pew cartoon.

“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.

“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.”

Studio not commenting on Looney Tunes character's Space Jam axing

Warner Brothers, the studio producing Space Jam 2, has not offered a comment on Pepe Le Pew's scenes reportedly being removed from the film.

Live-action filming had already been completed for the scene but it wasn't fully animated.

While the studio hasn't commented, Greice, who was to appear alongside the character, said through a spokesman that she was disappointed the scene had been cut.

As a survivor of sexual assault, Greice said she was disappointed the opportunity to teach children and viewers of the film that Pepe Le Pew's behaviour was unacceptable was missed.

“Even though Pepe is a cartoon character, if anyone was going to slap a sexual harasser like him, Greice wished it would be her,” the spokesperson said.

“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 behaviour is unacceptable.”

According to Deadline, the decision to cut Pepé from the New Legacy team was made in 2019 after Roll Bounce director Malcolm D. Lee replaced the original helmer, Terence Nance.

Nance filmed a comic Casablanca homage that would have placed the cartoon skunk in the same frame as Jane the Virgin star Santo.

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