Looney Tunes character Pepe Le Pew has been removed from upcoming film Space Jam 2.
The skunk character, who appeared in the first 1997 film, was due to appear in one scene according to Deadline, which has since been left on the cutting room floor.
The removal comes amid controversy after New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow said in an article that Le Pew “normalized rape culture”. However, the removal is not believed to be connected to Blow’s remarks.
It is being reported that the cut Space Jam 2 scene was filmed by original director Terence Nance, though since new director Malcolm D. Lee came on board, the scene was removed, with only the live-action element filmed (the animation was apparently never completed).
The scene in question was set in a Casablanca-like sequence, with Le Pew playing a bartender and hitting on a woman (Greice Santo). As he begins kissing her arm, she pulls back, and slams the character into the chair next to her before pouring a drink on him, slapping him hard and sending him spinning in a stool.
He is then stopped by star LeBron James, who is looking for Lola alongside Bugs Bunny, Pepe telling them that Penelope cat has filed a restraining order against him. James then notes that Pepe cannot touch other people without their consent.
Santo, who has spoken out about her own experience of sexual harassment in the past, has since criticised the removal.
“This was such a big deal for Greice to be in this movie,” a spokesperson for the star said. “Even though Pepe is a cartoon character, if anyone was going to slap a sexual harasser like him, Greice wished it would be her.
“Now the scene is cut, and she doesn’t have that power to influence the world through younger generations who’ll be watching Space Jam 2, to let younger girls and younger boys know that Pepe’s behavior is unacceptable.”
NME has reached out to Warner Bros for comment.