I generally like the writing at The Situationist blog a lot, but how can the clip of a “Pepe Le Pew” cartoon at the end of this post represent anything except extremely coercive, unwanted sexual contact? Pepe Le Pew cartoons aren’t even subtle. Rape isn’t funny, and it certainly isn’t “love.” From the official Looney Tunes site:
PepÃ© Le Pew has all the qualities of a great lover. He is a born romantic. His enthusiasm knows no bounds. His ego is as big as the Eiffel Tower. He showers les femmes with flowery come-ons, champagne, and gifts. He purrs. He coos. He cajoles… All in that entrancing French accent.
But like all great heroes, he has a flaw: his natural, er, “perfume.” That skunk stench has been known to make flowers wilt as he walks by. Buildings clear out the moment the amorous PepÃ© enters. Marble statues:which have survived hundreds of years of rain and wind:melt in his presence. But worst of all, that stench makes the ladies run away from PepÃ© in horror. Love may be blind, but its ability to smell is A-OK. But luckily for our olfactory-challenged lover, he has one other abiding quality, perhaps his best: He won’t take no for an answer.
Perhaps PepÃ© Le Pew would have less trouble with the lovely ladies if he stuck to his own species. PepÃ© has an unfortunate habit of falling not for skunks, but for discolored black cats with white stripes painted down their backs….
… In Past Perfumance, a movie director needs an “odorless skunk” for his picture. He needs it so desperately that the casting director paints a passing black cat. The result for our Romeo is the same: PepÃ© falls for the hapless cat. When PepÃ© strokes the fur of his love gently and tells her, “You are my peanut. I am your brittle,” his love runs away, slams a door, and bolts it shut. As usual, he thinks she is just playing hard to get. Hilariously, our star-struck lover never catches on that he’s chasing a mis-colored cat who’s running for dear life. …
There are episodes in which the cat actually tries to kill herself to avoid sex with Pepe. Those cartoons made me uneasy as a child, and now I find them truly sickening.
UPDATE: Props to the folks at The Situationist for reacting to this with decency rather than defensiveness. If everyone was as open to re-thinking assumptions the world, and certainly the blogosphere, would be a better place.
Also, read this great post situating Pepe Le Pew in rape culture.