Space Jam 2: which Looney Tunes character was left out of this sequel?

Pépé the polecat, legendary character from the Looney Tunes cartoons, will be absent from Space Jam 2, sequel to the cult film released in 1997


Invented in 1945 by Chuck Jones, Pepe the Polecat will not appear in Space Jam: New Era! Yet present in the first opus of 1997, the famous striped skunk was purely and simply cut during the editing. The reason ? A controversy that arose in the columns of the New York Times.

Pepe had to be part of the feature film starring LeBron James facing the cartoon characters. A scene between the animal and Greice Santo (Jane the Virgin) was shot in June 2019. The latter was not animated and was thrown in the trash in the editing room.

According to Deadline, a New York Times columnist, Charles M. Blow, is behind the ouster of Pépé le polecat. The reporter had written an article about the censorship of 6 children’s books by Dr. Seuss (The Grinch). These works were accused of racism. Grandpa is a character who harasses girls and kisses them without their consent. For the columnist, if we censor Dr Seuss, we should also do it with Pépé le polecat, “a problematic character, conveying the culture of rape.”

“It helped teach the boys that ‘no’ didn’t really mean ‘no’, that it was part of the game, that it was the starting point of a power struggle. The character normalized the culture of the game. rape”, he argues.

The article generated a controversy on social networks between those who agreed with the journalist and those denouncing an infringement of the right to caricature in the name of political correctness and “cancel culture”. The incriminated sequence and cut during the editing was produced by the first director of Space Jam 2, Terence Nance. The latter left the ship in July 2019, leaving it to Malcolm D. Lee to finish the film.


Grandpa the polecat

Also according to Deadline, the scene showed Pépé the skunk as a bartender, trying to kiss Greice Santo’s arm. The latter, annoyed, hit and slapped the skunk, sending it waltzing against a stool stopped by LeBron James’ hand. Santo was very upset to learn that her scene had been cut, according to the actress’ spokesperson. Victim of harassment, she is strongly committed to the fight against violence and sexual assault. She even founded an organization, Glam with Greice, helping victims to change their lives.

The actress had taken pleasure in shooting this sequence, in which Pépé the polecat is punished, chastised, for his behavior. “This scene was very important for Greice Santo. Even though Pépé is a cartoon character, it was essential to show that these behaviors were punished, to show that the victim could slap his attacker and defend himself. Now, the sequence is cut. , and Greice no longer has the power to influence the younger generations through Space Jam 2, to show them that Pepe’s behavior is unacceptable “, said the spokesperson for the actress, as quoted by Deadline.

Before Pépé the polecat, another controversy concerning the rabbit Lola Bunny had tainted the production of Space Jam 2: “Lola was very sexualized, like a Betty Boop mixed in with Jessica Rabbit. Lola was not politically correct. It’s a kid movie, why is she wearing a cropped crop top? It wasn’t necessary. We didn’t have to. we are in 2021. It is important to reflect the authenticity of strong and capable female characters “, explained director Malcom D. Lee at the microphone of EW.


Lola bunny

“So we reworked a lot of things. First her look, to make sure she had an appropriate short length and was feminine without being objectified. And then we wanted to give her a real voice. , the idea was to anchor the character in her athletic prowess, her leadership qualities. Make her a character as whole as the others “, he added.


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