If we learned anything from the 90’s it’s that using a misogynistic skunk to stereotype the French is probably wrong. Fortunately when Pepe Le Pew was introduced to audiences on this date in 1945 America was a more accepting place free of prejudices and political correctness.
As part of the Looney Tunes / Merry Melodies universe, Pepe Le Pew immediately became a hit and in 1949 earned an Academy Award for the animated short For Scent-imental Reasons. Like in most of his shorts, Pepe falls in love with an unfortunately painted female cat who he stalks and harasses into near suicide until the tables turn on our love-struck and smelly hero. These hilarious circumstances strike a chord with impressionable children who are just happy to watch indiscriminate violence as well as loser adults with body odor who are inspired to pursue unsuspecting females.
Nearly 70 years later and countless appearances on both big and small screens Pepe Lew Pew still continues to shape our young people’s minds about the French: Lackadaisical, aloof and unaware of their own personal hygiene. Along with the Mexican stereotypes of Speedy Gonzales and Slow Poke Rodriguez, the southerner Foghorn Leghorn, tough guy guido Spike the Bulldog, speech impediment handicapped Porky Pig, mentally handicapped Elmer Fudd, and countless other offensive characters, Pepe Le Pew and friends have made us the melting pot nation we are today and taught us to solve problems by bashing each other over the head with blunt objects.