Mr. Romance is on the scene lookin’ for love and stinkin’ up the place! Yes, it’s Pepé Le Pew, the stinky (Peeeewwww!) skunk on the prowl for Penelope Pussycat. (Don’t tell Pepé that Penelope isn’t really a skunk. She got that white stripe from walking under a freshy painted white fence!).
The thing is, Pepé’s foul odor is so bad, any victim of his pursuit high-tails it out of his way. Pepé’s such a narcissist, though, that he just hasn’t caught on to the problem of his presence. He thinks Penelope is lucky to be the object of his affections!
Pepé sure gets around, the world traveler that he is. He has visited Paris in the springtime (of course; he’s French!), the Matterhorn, and the little village of N’est-ce Pas in the French Alps. The romantic skunk has also traveled to Algiers and the Sahara Desert.
The foul-smelling Pepe has been pursuing Penelope since he was created for Warner Bros. Looney Tunes Cartoons by animation director Chuck Jones, in 1945. He was voiced by Mel Blanc for 44 years!
Jones said the skunk’s personality is loosely based on Termite Terrace writer Ted Pierce, Jones’s colleague. Evidently, Pierce was quite the narcissistic ladies’ man who assumed his infatuations were reciprocated.
Pepé Le Pew is definitely not the most popular of the Looney Tunes characters. His antics have been criticized for normalizing rape culture and perpetuating stereotypes of French culture. Amber E. George, in her 2017 essay “Pride or Prejudice? Exploring Issues of Queerness, Speciesism, and Disability in Warner Bros. Looney Tunes,” describes Pepé’s actions towards Penelope Pussycat as “sexual harassment, stalking, and abuse” and noted that Pepé’s qualities mock the French people and their culture. For these reasons, the narcissistic skunk is not my favorite character either. He reminds me too much of #45…