“The Last Night” Director Tim Soret Issues Strong Defense of Pepé Le Pew

One of the more enduring characters from the Looney Tunes cartoon series is Pepé Le Pew, the lovesick French skunk with a penchant for feline companionship. I’ve never personally been much of a fan, as I thought that Pepé Le Pew cartoons were sort of “girly” as a kid (In fact, he’s also my mother’s favorite Looney Tunes character). Even still, I always knew that I was only one commercial break away from a Daffy Duck or a Roadrunner cartoon, so I typically stuck around.

That’s the thing with the Looney Tunes, there is enough variety in the characters that everyone has his or her own favorite. One character not to your liking? Just wait another ten minutes, and the next cartoon will feature a different one. Bugs, Taz, Sylvester and Tweety, the list goes on.

However, that hasn’t stopped the Looney Tunes from becoming the latest target of cancel culture. Warner Bros. has already swapped Elmer Fudd’s trademark shotgun in favor of a scythe, as well as removed Le Pew himself from the upcoming Space Jam movie.

But the joyless never tire and their attacks never cease. Enter New York Times opinion columnist Charles Blow, who recently accused Pepé Le Pew of contributing to “rape culture.”

This has spurred a number of Looney Tunes fans to publicly defend the amorous skunk before he’s forcibly removed from collective memory. Among these voices is Tim Soret, the director of the upcoming cyberpunk-inspired video game The Last Night. A Frenchman like Le Pew, Soret is no stranger to bearing the brunt of cancel culture, having himself dealt with the social media mob in 2017 for tweets made years prior.

Soret used a rather lengthy social media thread to make his argument defending the Pepé Le Pew cartoons, which he has agreed to let us share in its entirety below. Soret’s comments are represented as he wrote them with no deletions and minimal editing.

Unbelievable how malevolent & uncharitable [Charles Blow’s] interpretation is.

Of course Pepé the Pew is disgusting, it’s the whole point of this character & this cartoon! Let me explain for those who aren’t familiar with it.

First, the Looney Tunes characters are obviously not designed as role models. They behave in the most insane, stupid, obsessive & reprehensible manner. Their flawed nature is why it’s morally acceptable and so regressively funny to see them fail miserably over & over.

Pepé the pew is a skunk: he literally stinks.
They couldn’t design a more obvious signal. As a skunk, well he’s completely unaware of his own smell – when others faint or flee in horror, it’s always a mystery to him.

That’s his core trait: obliviousness.

His unawareness of his own smell
mirrors his obliviousness of his own flippant attitude. He’s too absorbed by his seduction act to even realize that he’s mistaking a cat for a skunk (paint would somehow always land on her back in absurd ways, which is the show’s running joke).

The best episodes are the reversal ones, in which, after various stratagems (love potions, deodorants), Penelope finally falls in love. But it always backfires terribly & he ends up terrified, chased, cornered, harassed in the most hilarious schadenfreude, completely caught at his own game.

Cartoons did more to educate kids like me than any lecturing NYT columnist: I was absolutely embarrassed for Penelope & vowed to never annoy anyone like that.

Pepé is ridiculed. An anti-role model. A moral repellent, packed in an intuitive & widely accessible format for kids.

It’s an insult to the artists, animators & writers of these cartoons to profess that they didn’t know their responsibilities toward kids’ education.

They expertly navigated that fine line between the moral & the outrageous, that specific humor making cartoons absurdly funny.

The message: “Kids, don’t be oblivious fools like Pepé the Pew, be more self-conscious about your own smell & behavior before annoying others”.

A lesson that our dear NYT columnist should look into. To claim that this cartoon is endorsing harassment is absurd & untrue.

As a French, I should be the one offended by Pepé the pew. But:

  1. I’m not a killjoy
  2. I didn’t realize his Frenchness until adult: funnily enough, flippantly flirtatious French 🇫🇷🥐 characters like Pepé the Pew / the Mask were always rebranded as Italian 🇮🇹🍕 in the French dub. 😂

The search from pernicious “intellectuals” of the absolute most uncharitable interpretation of art to score easy social justice points needs to stop.

This is not progressive, this helps no cause & nobody.

“I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.”

In our postmodern era, how we see things tells more about us than what they really are.

What do you think of Soret’s take on the character? Which pop culture icons will cancel culture attack next? Let us know in the comments!

You can also follow Tim Soret on social media here.

Thanks for reading!

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