Space Jam in the #MeToo Era
|Recent meme, addressing the|
Lola Bunny is an athletic female rabbit. When she debuted in Space Jam, she was one, the only female on the team, two the only competent basketball player on the Toon Squad other than Michael Jordan, and three, Bugs Bunny found her wildly attractive and the film made rather a big deal of this. Subsequently, Lola has appeared in The Looney Tunes Show and The New Looney Tunes. She appears regularly in Looney Tunes comics. Generally, Bugs' affections are reciprocal and Lola is a an official “cannon” character, unlike Bugs' previous love interest, Honey Bunny, who never had a speaking role in any animated shorts. (Honey Bunny was seen in comic books and the occasional bit of Looney Tunes merchandise prior to 1996, however, she was never given anywhere near the same status as Lola.) Originally, the creators of Space Jam wanted Lola's character to be a tomboy, however, they feature that she would be 'too masculine' and decided to emphasise her feminine attributes as well. (In other words, she became an anthropomorphic rabbit with eyelashes and breasts.) The latest incarnation of the character seems to be to be truer to the original idea of the character, and to the idea that we can actually have a female Looney Tunes character whose chief role is something other than whether or not the male characters find her attractive.
Typically, female characters have been few and far between in the Looney Tunes universe. Aside from Lola there's Granny, the tough talking owner of Tweety (and occasionally Sylvester,) Prissy, and Petunia Pig who has only been seen sporadically since the early 1940s when Bugs and Daffy became more popular than her love interest Porky. Later creations from Warner Brothers, such as Tiny Toon Adventures (which focused on a younger generation of characters,) addressed the gender gap slightly introducing female characters such a Babs Bunny (who was the lead chaalongside Buster Bunny,) Elmyra Duff, Shirley the Loon, Sweetie Pie, and Fifi La Fume. The characters were typically portrayed respectfully, unlike that other major female Looney Tunes character, Penelope Pussycat.
As far as I am concerned, Pepe Le Pew will not be missed. That said, the decision on Warner Bros part to retire the character comes with one big--and important--peice of collateral damage. Space Jam 2 was set to have a scene where Pepe Le Pew is confronted--and slapped--over his disgusting behaviour when he attempts to kiss a character played by Greice Santo. Another character in the film then tells him that he cannot grab other Looney Tunes without their consent. That scene has subsequently been deleted from the final cut of the film.
It would have been the perfect ending to the career of Pepe La Pew.