The Christian Post recently published my short article “Pepe Le Pew stinks: The sexual violence of Looney Tunes in a #MeToo age.” The article attracted three comments, presumably from Christian conservatives (the primary readership of The Christian Post).
Not surprisingly, the comments were all critical of my moral censure of Pepe Le Pew and his trivialization of sexual assault. I say “not surprisingly” because, in my experience, evangelical Christians often diminish the moral offense of sexual assault. And these three comments bear out that assumption.
The shortest response comes from a fellow named William White who sarcastically opines, “As an alien, the depiction of Marvin the Martian offends me!” While Mr. White’s sarcastic rejoinder is somewhat hamfisted — the article is not critiquing the portrayal of a minority population — nonetheless, the main point is clear: criticizing a Looney Tune character amounts to PC moralizing run amok.
A more substantial — and disturbing — response comes from a lady named Nina Bourque. Ms. Bouque writes:
“I grew up with all those cartoons as well. We all loved them. Even as children I think we knew they were not realistic and amounted to a slapstick humor. No one can fall over cliff and have a safe land on them and survive. It is ridiculous. And a mouse beating up on a cat? A canary defeating a cat? An amorous skunk? At least he was swooning over a girl, new cartoons have boys swooning over boys. Popeye saving Olive Oyl from the Brutus? How about Mighty Mouse or Superman? I subscribe to Boomerang for my grandson because I cannot abide the new brand of cartoons. They are insipid, push SJW agendas and the violence is far worse then any Road Runner cartoon I ever watched. Young children with guns out to save the world? They all push some frightening agenda on children. Give me Daffy Duck, Bugs Bunny and Road Runner any day. Pepe Le Pew is still fine by me!”
This is the most revealing line:
“An amorous skunk? At least he was swooning over a girl, new cartoons have boys swooning over boys.”
First, take note at Bourque’s intentional framing of the issue: Le Pew is “amorous” and is merely “swooning over a girl.” But that is not what the cartoon depicts, at all. Rather, Le Pew is a predator who sexually assaults a victim.
The most extraordinary thing, however, is that Bourque suggests this depiction of sexual assault is somehow less egregious because it is, at least, heterosexual: “new cartoons have boys swooning over boys.” This is an ugly, cretinous attitude, one that effectively excuses male heterosexual predatory behavior.
And that brings me, finally, to the most extraordinary comment of all. This one comes from Marvin Thompson:
“It isn’t funny – anymore. But that is because we have changed both culturally and morally. We are far removed from the times when such humor was nothing more than that – humor. Scripture warned us that these days would come when a depraved, vile and corrupt mindset would prevail. It is like eating the “forbidden fruit” and realizing we are naked.”
It might take a minute to wrap your brain around what Thompson is saying, but it is truly extraordinary. Thompson is comparing the Looney Tunes era to the prelapsarian state in the garden, the time before there was sin when male and female lived in harmony with one another and God. During this time, a skunk groping a terrified cat “was nothing more than … humor.”
According to Thompson, the problem is not with the cartoon. No, the problem is with our “woke” moral age, one that takes the innocent tryst between a skunk and cat and turns it into something “depraved, vile and corrupt”.
You might consider these comments a glimpse behind the veil of what it means to “Make America Great Again.” Together, these commenters long for a return to a time where non-heteronormative people were in the closet and where heterosexual males would be free to act out their “amorous” fancies on fleeing females without fear of being charged with sexual assault. Worst of all, this deeply immoral picture is viewed as exemplifying traditional mom-and-apple-pie moral values.