Director, writer, animator, story artist ... and college prof Thomas Sito reacts to the attack on Pep Le Pew:
So everybody is piling on poor Pepe Le Pew. Every year or so, some East Coast writer tries to score points by attacking a beloved old cartoon for its 70 year old values. This year a political columnist of the NY Times decided Pepe was guilty of ‘normalized rape culture.’ So he has been purged. Much like last year when they went after the holiday song ‘Baby, It's Cold Outside’. Written in 1944 by Frank Loesser as a love letter to his wife. They would sing it together at parties. It won an Oscar in 1949. Pepe won an Oscar in 1950.
I know if Chuck Jones was still alive, he would have much to say about this. I could never hope to surpass his eloquence. So, let me just say to me, Pepe Le Pew was not a sexual predator, he was in love with love itself. A hopeless romantic, he always was defeated and frustrated in his quest for romance, much like Wiley Coyote never caught the Road Runner.
Pepe LePew was a caricature of French actor Charles Boyer ,and the character he played in the movie Algiers. ‘Dahling, come with me to zee Casbah!’ Boyer (1899-1978) was happily married to one woman, and after she died , he died of a broken heart a week later.M/p>
I am not foolish enough to try to excuse aggressive male sexuality. The mysteries of the human mating ritual involving pursuit and pursued, older than civilization itself, are much too subtle to be understood in a few columns of print, or a few hyperbolic generalizations.
Suffice it to say I love Pepe LePew. He was a fun character to draw and to watch. After this storm passes, I hope future generations will rediscover Pepe and his innate charm. ‘Alors pourquoi pas?’
All I can add is, it's difficult to ban, suppress books, movies, and cartoons in the Age of Internet. Like, impossible, non?