Space Jam 2 won't feature controversial Looney Tunes character Pepe Le Pew
Pepe Le Pew is no longer appearing in Space Jam: A New Legacy, it has been revealed.
According to Deadline, original director Terence Nance shot a black-and-white cameo scene for the Looney Tunes character, but when he parted ways with the sequel, new director Malcolm D Lee ditched the scene entirely.
The news follows a recent article by New York Times columnist Charles M Blow, who argued that the animated French skunk "normalised rape culture" – although the decision to remove Pepe from the film is not believed to have been connected to the NYT piece.
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The scene in question reportedly saw Pepe in the role of a bartender, who hits on a character played by Jane the Virgin actress Greice Santo by kissing her arm. She then pulls away from the skunk before slamming him into another chair, pouring her drink over him and slapping him.
He later declares that Penelope Pussycat has filed a restraining order against him, before LeBron James warns Pepe that he can't touch other people without consent.
Santo, who has been a victim of sexual harassment and spoken out against it in the past, criticised the decision to remove the scene.
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In a statement, her spokesperson said: "This was such a big deal for Greice to be in this movie. Even though Pepe is a cartoon character, if anyone was going to slap a sexual harasser like him, Greice wished it would be her.
"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."
Warner Bros has not yet commented on the matter.
Posting on Twitter following his feature, NYT writer Blow added: "RW blogs are mad bc I said Pepe Le Pew added to rape culture. Let's see.1. He grabs/kisses a girl/stranger, repeatedly, w/o consent and against her will. 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."
Space Jam: A New Legacy is set for release on July 16 in the US, and July 23 in the UK.
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