The iconic French skunk seen in the classic Looney Tunes cartoon, Pepe Le Pew, will not be featured in Space Jam 2 after a New York Times columnist claimed the skunk “perpetuates rape culture,” according to a report by Deadline.
“Deadline has learned that a hybrid live-action animation scene between Jane the Virgin actress Greice Santo and Pepe Le Pew, shot back in June 2019 for Space Jam 2 was left on the cutting room floor,” said the report.
“The live-action scene was filmed by the pic’s first director, Terence Nance. As we first reported in July 2019, Nance left the production with Malcolm D. Lee taking over. Under the direction of Lee, Pepe Le Pew was eliminated from the sequel a while ago and never animated for the live-action footage which was shot. According to sources who saw a rough cut three months ago, they didn’t see any kind of cameo by the skunk,” continued Deadline.
The decision to cut it likely manifested from a tweet by New York Times columnist Charles Blow, who claimed that the skunk “added to rape culture.”
Pepe’s removal might not have been related to Blow’s tweet, according to the author of the report, Anthony D’Alessandro; however, the author was shocked about the details of the scene.
“Pepe was set to appear in a black-and-white Casablanca-like Rick’s Cafe sequence,” claims the report. “Pepe, playing a bartender, starts hitting on a woman at the bar played by Santo. He begins kissing her arm, which she pulls back, then slamming Pepe into the chair next to hers. She then pours her drink on Pepe, and slaps him hard, sending him spinning in a stool, which is then stopped by LeBron James’ hand. James and Bugs Bunny are looking for Lola, and Pepe knows her whereabouts. Pepe then tells the guys that Penelope cat has filed a restraining order against him. James makes a remark in the script that Pepe can’t grab other Tunes without their consent.”
The actor behind the scene, Greice Santo, was extremely upset after hearing that her already recorded scene was removed from the movie.
“This was such a big deal for Greice to be in this movie, said a spokesperson for Santo. “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 behavior is unacceptable.”
The actress and singer was a victim of sexual harassment and has spoken out against it, including recording a song designed to empower women to stand up to sexual harassment. Santo also runs a non-profit designed at empowering victims of domestic violence.