Four months and change before the release of Space Jam's highly anticipated sequel this July, the nostalgic sports classic has already found itself embroiled in several fraught controversies before the film's official trailer has even dropped. From Internet-wide debates regarding whether or not cartoon rabbit, Lola Bunny's new look is "sexy" enough, to how NBA icon LeBron James compares to basketball legend and the star of the original 1996 movie, Michael Jordan, as Uproxx noted, Space Jam: A New Legacy has become one of the year's most contentious flicks.
The latest installment in Space Jam 2's never-ending drama? Pepe Le Pew, will reportedly not be appearing in the follow-up film after one of his scenes was removed, Deadline reported. The wannabe Casanova skunk was reportedly set to appear in a black-and-white Casablanca-inspired scene alongside Jane The Virgin star, Greice Santo.
"Pepe, playing a bartender, starts hitting on a woman at the bar played by Santo," the publication wrote. "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." Nice. Upon learning her scene was cut, Santo, who was been an outspoken advocate against sexual harassment was reportedly upset about not being able to put the creepy cartoon character in his place.
“This was such a big deal for Greice to be in this movie," her spokesperson told the outlet. "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."
Over the past several days, Le Pew has found himself at the center of the national discussion for the first time in his entire approximately 75 year-existence. On March 3, New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow offhandedly mentioned that the skunk "normalized rape culture" in a recent OpEd discussing racism's role in pop culture in context of six of Dr. Seuss's books being pulled earlier this month. Following the backlash of his seemingly innoculous statement, mostly from conservative pundits looking to bump ratings now that 45 has officially left office, Blow stood by his work, issuing a tweet doubling down on his sentiments.
"This helped teach boys that 'no' didn’t really mean no, that it was a part of 'the game'," the columnist posted alongside a video of the offending skunk forcibly kissing Penelope Pussycat. "The starting line of a power struggle. It taught overcoming a woman’s strenuous, even physical objections, was normal, adorable, funny. They didn’t even give the woman the ability to SPEAK."
Although the news of Le Pew being removed from the film comes at a strange time, considering his recent controversy, the decision to cut him from the film seemingly occurred some time ago, as a result of Malcolm D. Lee taking over for Terence Nance as the sequel's director in 2019, according to Deadline. Furthermore, it seems the skunk won't only be sitting out of Space Jam 2 missing several other Looney Tunes endeavors. "Warner Bros. also has no current TV series featuring the skunk and there are no plans to have him appear on Looney Toons, Bugs Bunny Builders, Tiny Toons Looniversary or future projects ... " the publication reported.
So folks, it's been a long few weeks in the world of Space Jam 2. Let's at least hope we get a trailer before the next major bombshell drops.
Top Image: Warner Bros.