The cartoon skunk Pepé Le Pew will not appear in the Space Jam sequel — the original of which featured the Looney Tunes cast alongside NBA legend Michael Jordan — because he “added to rape culture,” HuffPost reported.
In an early cut of the animated and live-action film Space Jam: A New Legacy, Le Pew approaches actress Greice Santo and kisses her arm.
Santo responds by throwing Le Pew into a chair, dumping a drink on him, and slapping him with such force that he spins on a stool until NBA player LeBron James stops him.
Santo said she wanted the scene to remain in the film, since she claims to have experienced sexual harassment in the past.
“This was such a big deal for Greice to be in this movie,” Santo’s spokesperson told Deadline. “Even though Pepé is a cartoon character, if anyone was going to slap a sexual harasser like him, Greice wished it would be her.”
The spokesperson indicated that Santo will not have a role in the movie anymore.
“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 behavior is unacceptable,” the spokesperson said.
Producer Malcolm D. Lee scrapped the scene with Le Pew early in the movie’s development, but the decision was only recently revealed.
The French skunk has a reputation for making unwanted advances on Penelope Pussycat.
New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow wrote an opinion that called on Le Pew to be cancelled.
Blow’s March 3 opinion reportedly had no effect on the decision to pull Le Pew’s scene.
“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,” Blow said in defense of his opinion, Deadline reported.