Cancel culture is a phenomenon that keeps on growing. This phenomenon is mainly driven by the big media, promoted in social platforms and made effective by large and medium-sized companies that give in to the pressures of a loud minority. Cancel culture has axed books, artists, authors, common people who lost their jobs, and now cartoons. Pepe Le Pew and Speedy Gonzales are the latest victims.
A columnist for The New York Times, Charles M. Blow, indirectly started the war against Pepe Le Pew, Speedy Gonzales and other animated characters in his column “Six Seuss books Bore a Bias.”
Blow explains that when he was a child, racism in the U.S. “was relayed through toys and dolls, cartoons and children’s shows, fairy tales and children’s books.”
“At every turn, at every moment, I was being baptized in the narrative that everything white was right, good, noble and beautiful, and everything Black was the opposite,” explained the author who expressed his joy in the article at the cancel of Mr. Seuss’ books that had “racist” characters.
After this explanation about the transmission of racism and hatred among children, Blow charged against several cartoons, among them Pepe Le Pew and Speedy Gonzales, who, in his opinion, normalize “racist stereotypes” against Mexicans.
“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,” the author outlined in the Times.
Blow added: “Reruns were a fixture in the pre-cable days, so I watched children’s shows like Tarzan, about a half-naked white man in the middle of an African jungle who conquers and tames it and outwits the Black people there, who are all portrayed as primitive, if not savage. I watched the old “Our Gang” (“Little Rascals”) shorts in which the Buckwheat character summoned all the stereotypes of the pickaninny.”
While the author does not directly call for the cancel of the cartoons, he did show his happiness at the cancellation for Mr. Seuss’ books, “So, this week, when the company that controls Dr. Seuss books announced that it would no longer publish six of the books because of the racist and insensitive images, saying that “these books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong,” I rejoiced as some lamented another victim of the so-called ‘cancel culture.'”
After that, Blow pointed out that “Racism must be exorcised from culture, including, or maybe especially, from children’s culture. Teaching a child to hate or be ashamed of themselves is a sin against their innocence and a weight against his possibilities.”
In this way, the author gave rise to the controversial request for the cancellation of the cartoons, which quickly moved to social media and was covered by several media outlets.
Pepe Le Pew and Speedy Gonzales among the affected
Reactions to The New York Times columnist’s article were mixed. Many supported his assessments of the cancellation of Dr. Seuss’ books and criticism of the animated characters Pepe Le Pew and Speedy Gonzales.
Others did not support his review at all, claiming that it is another episode of the cancel culture that promotes censorship based on subjective beliefs in today’s society.
For example, Speedy Gonzales himself defended himself or, rather, the man who will bring his voice to life in the next installment of Space Jam, Gabriel Iglesias:
On the case of Pepe Le Pew, the situation is more complex.
Blow himself reaffirmed his argument about French skunk normalizing “rape culture” on Twitter by posting one of the classic videos of Pepe Le Pew seducing Penelope Pussycat, who was trying to wriggle away from the skunk.
The controversy, moreover, was stoked after Deadline reported that Pepe Le Pew will not appear in the second installment of Space Jam. Although they did say that the Times column had nothing to do with it as the decision was taken months ago.
But there were also those who defended Pepe Le Pew.
Meanwhile, Ian Miles Cheong also commented on his Twitter account.
There were even those who expressed their indignation with the cancellation of Pepe Le Pew claiming that, if those were the parameters, the cartoon Pucca should be cancelled for being “toxic” and a “compulsive stalker” with Garu.
The only sure thing is that the cancel culture continues to advance by leaps and bounds.