Looney Tunes character Pepe Le Pew has been at the center of a rape culture controversy lately, and now the daughter of Pepe's creator, Chuck Jones, has addressed the situation. It was recently announced that scenes featuring Pepe Le Pew were cut from the upcoming Space Jam sequel due to controversy over the character's past nature and aggressive behavior toward females. Now, Linda Jones has spoken out, telling TMZ that she believes Warner Bros. has every right to do what it wants with Pepe, but that anyone who thinks her father designed the character to perpetuate rape culture is mistaken.
The outlet notes that Linda stated she doe not believe anyone was ever inspired to commit rape or acts of sexual assault because of watching a Pepe Le Pew cartoon. She also stated that Pepe never committed rape in the cartoons and that she does not feel he deserves to be "canceled." Linda explained that Pepe's behavior was never really meant to be the punchline of the cartoons, but rather, the joke was always that Pepe saw himself as a dashing and debonair gentleman when really he was a smelly skunk. Essentially, it seems that Linda is saying her father was partially satirical with the character.
Still, Linda admits that Pepe's aggressive approach toward his desired love, Penelope Pussycat, certainly does not look good when viewed through a modern lens. However, she adds that when the character was first introduced and all throughout the initial run of his cartoons, the culture was different and society did not view Pepe as a "normalizing rape culture." Finally, Linda suggested what Warner Bros. could do with Pepe, recommending that the company find a way to revamp his image and maybe make him a "perpetual job-seeker" who is a poor candidate but keeps changing his approach after being rejected.
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.— Charles M. Blow (@CharlesMBlow) March 6, 2021
The recent controversy around Pepe Le Pew was sparked when journalist Charles M. Blow wrote a New York Times op-ed about the character perpetuating rape culture. The article has been met with mixed reactions from social media users, as many agree with Blow's perspective and many others who do not. Ultimately, what is certain is that Warner Bros. has stated there are no plans for Pepe to be included in any Looney Tunes projects for the foreseeable future.