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Pepe Le Pew was never meant to normalize rape culture: Creator Chuck Jones’ daughter defends father

Pepe Le Pew and Penelope Pussycat
Pepe Le Pew grabs Penelope Pussycat in a scene from Loony Tunes cartoon series. Pic credit: @Warner Bros.

The daughter of Chuck Jones, the cartoonist credited as the creator of Pepe Le Pew and other Looney Tunes characters, has come out in defense of her father.

Linda Jones told TMZ that her father, Chuck Jones, never intended to use his cartoon skunk character to normalize or perpetuate rape culture.

Linda admitted that times and culture have changed since her father created Pepe, but she insisted that the character did not help to perpetuate rape culture as columnist Charles M. Blow suggested in his op-ed, Six Seuss Books Bore A Bias, published on March 3 in the New York Times.

Pepe Le Pew is a cartoon skunk character from the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series of cartoons by Warner Bros. The character, created by Warner Bros. animator Chuck Jones, was first introduced in 1945.

Pepe Le Pew was depicted as a skunk searching for love. Pepe believed he was a desirable suitor and pursued his love interests aggressively. But his offensive odor and aggressive approach turned off his love interests.

Charles Blow took to Twitter to respond to the backlash against his op-ed

Charles Blow’s suggestion that Pepe normalized rape culture sparked a backlash in the conservative media and blogosphere.

Blow later took to Twitter to respond to the backlash by citing an instance in which Pepe’s behavior toward his love interest appeared overtly aggressive.

He posted a clip from the Looney Tunes series showing Pepe grabbing and kissing Penelope Pussycat (see tweet below) without her consent and against her will.

Pepe refused to let Penelope go when she struggled to escape from him. He also locked her in a room to prevent her from escaping.

Blow was not the first to suggest that Pepe Le Pew normalized rape

Charles Blow was not the first commentator to suggest that Pepe Le Pew normalized rape.

Comedian Dave Chappelle called Pepe Le Pew a rapist in his stand-up movie, Killin’ Them Softly. The essayist, Amber E. George, also described Pepe’s aggressive pursuit of Penelope Pussycat as sexual harassment and abuse.

Warner Bros removed Pepe Le Pew from Space Jam: A New Legacy

Following Charles Blow’s commentary on Pepe Le Pew’s behavior, Warner Bros announced on March 7 that the character will not appear in Space Jam: A New Legacy, the upcoming theatrical sequel to Space Jam released in 1996.

Space Jam: A New Legacy is scheduled for theatrical release — and on HBO Max — on July 16, 2021.

Nobody who ever watched Pepe Le Pew was inspired to go out and rape, Linda Jones said

Linda disagreed with Charles M. Blow that Pepe Le Pew contributed to rape culture. She said her dad never intended to depict Pepe as a sexual predator and that he never intended to use the character to normalize rape culture.

She also said she did not believe that Pepe Le Pew’s antics inspired anyone to go out and harass or rape women. She defended Pepe, saying he never raped anyone.

But she admitted there were instances in which Pepe might have appeared too aggressive and that his behavior was not acceptable by present standards.

She added that although Warner Bros. has the right to remove the character, they should consider rebranding him to reflect the spirit of her father’s intention.

The latest controversy comes after a jury found film producer Harvey Weinstein guilty of third-degree rape and criminal sexual assault in the first degree over allegations made by two women, Jessica Mann and Miriam Haleyi.

Actor Danny Masterton was also charged with three counts of rape in Los Angeles.

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