Cheryl is a freelance writer, poet, newspaper columnist, and published author. She enjoys writing about issues related to baby boomers.
Pepe Le Pew may be a sexual predator.
About six months ago, I was enjoying a Looney Tunes cartoon featuring Pepe Le Pew. I have always enjoyed the amorous skunk for over 50 years, but on this day I was uncomfortable. The "Me too" movement had me questioning if I had unwittingly been laughing at a sexual predator for all of these decades? I grew up in the late 1960s and early 1970s in an area where most children were pretty innocent. The cartoon polecat, in the minds of most, was simply trying to get a date. During that era boys that were sweet on a girl would go all out trying to get her attention, but it was not to get her into bed. It would be for a first date, first kiss or going steady. For this reading I never saw Pepe as trying to force himself on the females.
I recently read an article in the Christian Post where the author said that Pepe Le Pew stinks. I have to wonder now if Mel Blank and the others responsible for Looney Tunes were male chauvinists and the generation of Americans until now were naive or simply ignorant? In every episode with Pepe, the plot was the same. A cat would accidentally get white paint on it's back, and the skunk would believe it was a female polecat. Pepe would spend the entire cartoon chasing the object of his affection and being rejected at every turn. When he caught up to the cat, he would smother her with unwanted kisses. My daughter says Pepe was nothing more than a sexual predator and we simply were not aware of it.
Sexual harassment may be in the eye of the beholder
When I was a teenager, we had dances at the local Masonic Hall. There was a man who was the age of my mother, so he would have been about 35 when I was 14. He would dance with all the teenage girls and we knew no better than to dance with him. Other parents were there, and no one ever said anything was wrong with it. We laughed and thought it was funny, but this was a married man dancing with girls the same age as his children. If one of my husband's friends had tried to dance with our daughter, we would have kicked him to the curb. Back then, this man never did anything inappropriate, but I now know it was very wrong. Looking back on it, some adult should have barred him from the building. Because I grew up in the environment that I did, I find it difficult to consider some things I experienced as sexual harassment, because they did not end in rape or attempted rape. This is why I also have a hard time seeing Pepe Le Pew as anything but love-struck.
I can recall how in elementary school, boys would crawl on the floor and look under the girl's dresses when the teacher was not in the room. We would push them away, but laughing because we often heard that "Boys will be boys." I think of the scene in the opening of the movie Splash where Tom Hank's character in flashbacks was on a boat looking under women's dresses when he was a little boy. I thought the scene was cute and simply portrayed a curious young man. My daughter, who is 33 is appalled by my attitude and says that we were raised wrong, but were we? Everyone is a product of their environment and curious boys, along with an amorous Pepe Le Pew shaped a lot of Baby Boomers. Nothing is hidden today and because of the Internet, a lot of once-taboo subjects can be discussed. I know the "Me too" folk will disagree, but sexual harassment may not be interpreted the same by everyone.
Pepe Le Pew sends a message
The article in The Christian Post said that many have considered Looney Tunes as very violent and sexist, but no one has really complained until now. Many generations of children have watched Bugs, Daffy, Road Runner, and Pepe Le Pew without committing mass shootings or sexually harassing anyone. Baby boomers say Superman fly but realized it was only make-believe. In my opinion, there is some type of disconnect today and young people have completely different mindsets. Yes, bad things happened decades ago and many times were swept under the rug. I knew an older woman who remained best friends with another woman whose husband she said had raped her. This sounds ludacris to me, but likewise, my attitude about the cartoon skunk does not make sense to someone else.
The fact that I am even thinking about Pepe Le Pew speaks volumes. I am questioning many things that I never really gave much thought. I enjoy listening to the polecat speaking his language of love in french, while someone else is focused on the petrified look on the cat's face. Pepe is oblivious to the fact that his love is unrequited and perhaps baby boomers have simply been oblivious to much we should have paid attention to. The bottom line is that I will probably never fully understand the younger generation and their attitudes and Visa Versa.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Cheryl E Preston
Cheryl E Preston (author) from Roanoke on October 20, 2019:
I never thought of that before. You would have thought he might have noticed the wet paint scent at least.
Elijah A Alexander Jr from Washington DC on October 19, 2019:
Now that you mentioned it, Cheryl, I often wondered why Pepe couldn't smell her odor and determine she wasn't a skunk. At a young age I discovered animals generally recognize other animals by their smells so that was always a question in my mind and a few times asked out loud. So I believe that was in the minds of many children but we were, like we were so many other things, encouraged to "don't make it into something it is not."
Being the curious and inquisitive child I was I've head that phrase far too many times when, now that I know, I should not have told that. My belief, partly based on experiences, is the reason most sexual predators don't get caught is that statement and our being told "obey and believe your elders" by people who had never experienced the acts. However, It was an interesting article, Thanks for sharing it.