Charles M. Blow sparked a fervent debate about the future of Pepé Le Pew, a French striped skunk appearing in the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series, with his latest column for The New York Times. As the author argued in his piece, titled "Six Seuss Books Bore a Bias," Pepé Le Pew helped normalize rape culture. So, is the controversial cartoon character about to get canceled?
Is Pepé Le Pew about to get canceled?
Charles voiced concerns about cartoon characters who represent politically incorrect and morally questionable ideas in his column for The New York Times. As he asserted, the sketches featuring Pepé Le Pew are politically incorrect — and as such, their re-assessment is long overdue. Although there's a great deal of talk about Pepé Le Pew, it's uncertain if he would get removed from the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series in the future.
"Some of the first cartoons I can remember included Pepé Le Pew, who normalized rape culture; Speedy Gonzales, whose friends helped popularize the corrosive stereotype of the drunk and lethargic Mexicans; and Mammy Two Shoes, a heavyset Black maid who spoke in a heavy accent," Charles wrote.
The New York Times columnist isn't the first public figure to speak up against badly-written cartoon characters, however. Dave Chappelle leveraged similar charges against Pepé Le Pew in an HBO comedy special titled Killin' Them Softly.
As part of the 2000 special, Dave shared an anecdote about a discovery he made while he was watching television with his nephew. As he had to learn, not only did his nephew love Pepé Le Pew, but he even made a remark indicating that he didn't see any problem with the predatory behavior the character exemplified. Not knowing what else to do, Dave switched over to Sesame Street — which only served as a source of relief until Oscar the Grouch's character appeared on the screen.
Some Twitter users came out in defense of Pepé Le Pew.
Charles' piece sparked a great deal of furor among right-wing commentators.
"Let this sink in: The left wants to cancel Pepé Le Pew for "promoting rape culture" but they aren't going to cancel Andrew Cuomo..." tweeted @alexbruesewitz.
Many Twitter users took offense at the idea that a cartoon character should be canceled, claiming that the proposition exemplifies an unnecessarily fussy attitude that's becoming increasingly prevalent among Twitter users and far beyond.
"People are dying, losing homes, hungry and y'all worried about a damn Pepé Le Pew," tweeted @darleneturner53.
"Uh oh: Authoritarian woke leftists have discovered Pepé Le Pew and Speedy Gonzales," tweeted @realJamesKlug.
Is Speedy Gonzales about to get canceled, too?
Charles used Speedy Gonzales as an example of a cartoon character who reinforces negative stereotypes about Mexican people. As many Twitter users argue, however, Speedy Gonzales isn't perceived as offensive.
"As a Latino, I can state that we are not offended by Speedy Gonzales. He is a cultural icon and must be protected at all costs. The machismo. The drip. Protect him!" tweeted @Ejmiller25.
Charles also mentioned Mammy Two Shoes, a character who doubled as a vessel for racist ideas. Mammy Two Shoes was removed from Tom and Jerry cartoons a while ago.