Now I know for an absolute fact, there are people out there who will read this and laugh, maybe tell me I’m taking things “too seriously” or I’m “looking into things too much” – That’s fine; fun fact is I like to read between the lines and outside the box and a small clip that showed up on my twitter TL, smacked me in the face with a very real thought – it’s specifically about one particular cartoon. Yes you read that right, cartoon.
Curious? then read on!
TW: Sexual Harassment/Abuse
If you’re still here, thank you and please bare with me. As with many of my posts I just get an idea and start writing – I rarely (if ever) know where the post will actually go.
In the last five (ish) years, I’ve seen a reboot of a certain stinky skunk cartoon; Pepe Le Pew. These new episodes and remastered old ones are significantly different to the originals I remember watching as a child. Now obviously, I wasn’t around in 1945 when the cartoon was first out and about – however they were still playing the originals in the 1990’s when i was around 6 and I remember still watching them into my early teens before other shows took over.
The premise of Pepe is simple…. he will not give up on his perpetual search for love and then when he finds Penelope (Pussycat) he get’s the cliche heart eyes and goes right after her at every chance.
I used to find the cartoon funny, and until very recently it would still make me giggle – but something changed in my way of thinking. Something just…. clicked. Back when u was a child, it was funny because the creature of Pepe’s obsession (and that is very important) is obviously not a skunk, she’s a cat – and it would be funny because Pepe had no clue she wasn’t a skunk and would keep trying to win her over in all sorts of funny ways that only Looney Toons could provide (and YES I remember it as “Looney Toons” not “Looney Tunes” …. they were carTOONS…. don’t get me started on the Mandela effect).
It was funny when he would capture her and lock her up, or corner her and force his kisses of love and affection on her… because he was a skunk and she was a cat and obviously this skunk was a complete moron…
Fast forward to now and I’m reflecting on the amazing Womens March that took place across the world, uniting all women everywhere against the Yak-Haired Cheeto with squirrel eyebrows and the variety of issues that he has no interest in listening to or dealing with. Let’s be honest, if you say to someone “name a memorable quote by Donald Trump” I can guarantee that the most common one will be is “Grab her by the pussy”.
And that’s where this random tweet on my TL comes from… someone likened Pepe Le Pew to Donald Trump. It was an image of Pepe with his arms around Penelope, lips puckered trying to kiss her while she is obviously trying to escape yet again.
It got my brain ticking, a sort of epiphany if you will – have certain cartoons conditioned us to accept predatory behaviour as normal?
Think about it…. we all used to laugh at Pepe Le Pew; his antics in trying to win over his “true love”… when in fact it was nothing more than an unhealthy and very creepy obsession during which he repeatedly, time and time again, would kidnap Penelope and force his “love” on her (in the form of kissing and grabbing) all the while she is panicking and trying her best to get away and escape from him and his unwanted intentions.
I even remember an episode (and found the fucking gif!) when he used her emotions against her and threatened to kill himself…
Of course Penelope couldn’t let him do that, she couldn’t live with the guilt of knowing he had killed himself because she turned him down – so she relents and accepts his affections and heads back to his home.
Can we, just for a second, replace these cartoon characters with real people? A suave Frenchman called Pepe, who believes he is a gift to the world pushes his affections on a lady called Penelope who just isn’t interested – for whatever reason, she just doesn’t like him and walks away. So Pepe sets up cunning little traps to drive her into his direction at every twist and turn. He grabs her and holds her close while whispering sweet nothings about how amazing their life will be, how much he needs her, pushing kisses onto Penelope and giving her gifts. All the while Penelope is doing everything she can to get away; saying “no” at this point isn’t working so she turns to other means. She foils his traps and drops terracotta pots onto his head from the balcony above. She hides under counters and in back alleys, under a car, in a shower… but ah-ha, she isn’t smart enough to get away forever and Pepe, after chasing her for days/weeks/months, turns up with a gun and threatens to kill himself unless she comes with him, relents and accepts his advances.
Doesn’t sound so cute when you put human beings in to the same situation, does it?
Sadly there are various movies I’ve seen with similar concepts – maybe not the hijinks which are supposed to be “comic relief” – however many old black and whites would have a man chasing a woman with his affections through the movie with some simple storyline and almost always by the end of the movie, the woman is so obviously now in love (read: worn down) with her stalker that when he grabs her and kisses her “romantically” – usually on a train platform, or waiting outside a hotel in the rain – she doesn’t fight back; she all but collapses into his arms with big doe eyes and a breathy statement about how she’ll always be his….
Before anyone yells, I’m not saying all black and whites are like this; I can’t believe in this day and age i even have to point that out. However I can tell you know what kind of movies I’m on about.
Has it been bread into us, have we been conditioned to accept this predatory behaviour as a social “norm”? I’m not saying the cartoons and films are completely to blame – there’s more factors such as the old saying “Oh he pulled your hair/punched/kicked/bit you? he must have a crush on you! *insert weird wink and smirk here*” then there’s “give your grandma/grandpa/uncle/cousin/aunt/mother’s best friend’s boyfriend’s sister a hug and a kiss!” and woe betide if you don’t – you’re being rude.
It’s these factors (and so many more) that teach us all that the word “no” doesn’t get us anywhere – it’s not accepted. We have stamp our feet and make a scene and occasionally punch a few people to get our point across…. and then we’re being unreasonable.
My point is (I think….), it’s about time we DID read between the lines, thought outside of the box and actually thought about how our actions and the world around is is shaping the next generation. Cartoons are generally pretty harmless and just a good laugh – but I do question writers and editors that let stuff like this slip through the cracks.
In my mind, now…. Pepe Le Pew isn’t a love struck moron skunk, in love with a cat he thinks is a skunk; he’s a sexual predator who wouldn’t take no for an answer!