Looney Tunes is one of the most influential enterprises of the 20th century, and no one should ever doubt their cultural impact. As the creators behind the characters like Friz Freleng, Tex Avery, Chuck Jones, along with voices like Mel Blanc and June Foray, passed, it was always with the understanding the next generation would take up their predecessors' mantle and continue the legacy. How are we really to define this said legacy? Cherrypicking and kowtowing to social pressure that certain characters just haven't aged into the 21st century as well like Pepe Le Pew, Speedy Gonzalez, and to a certain extent Porky Pig and Elmer Fudd? In light of news that the French skunk has been scrubbed completely from Warner Bros' latest film using the characters in Space Jam: A New Legacy, perhaps it's time to just retire the characters for good if you're not able to use them for one reason or another.
Looney Tunes: A Byproduct of Their Times
Listen, I'm a firm believer, or either use it all or none at all. Without characters like Pepe Le Pew, who started as a zany cartoon skunk with misguided notions of love with an ongoing interspecies fixation with Penelope the Cat. She often finds herself painted white on her back against her black fur to mistake herself for a "female skunk." Pepe simply isn't a character that belongs in the #MeToo generation. It's not just the skunk who's been complained about in the past. Stemming for an op-ed in the New York Times, which isn't the first to bring up the controversy between the characters, there have been other targets in the past like Speedy Gonzales, who is voiced in the film by comedian Gabriel Iglesias. As the fastest mouse of all Mexico, there are those who complained the mice depicted in his cartoons are nothing but reinforce crude stereotypes. Cartoon Network decided to shelve its cartoons for that reason in the late 90s.
Where Does It End?
Even when it's not accusing of endorsing "rape culture" or reaffirming "racist stereotypes," there are other characters with distinguishing characteristics in Porky Pig with his stuttering along with Elmer Fudd and Yosemite Sam with their guns where WB has dealt with their own controversy one way or another. When it comes to Porky Pig, those who defend the character say he's a positive role model, whereas his detractors accuse the studio of exacerbating the social stigma that already exists with stuttering and stammering. In the case of Bugs Bunny's archrivals in Fudd and Sam, the earlier is often depicted hunting rabbits with his guns, whereas Sam is often defined by his dual pistols.
Build on Newer Legacies
There are several other animated properties that don't have the legacy Looney Tunes built, and the characters are the byproduct of their time. Let it stay that way, and just let them go gracefully. Some characters just don't age as well as others. Two other popular IPs WB also already have are Animaniacs, which they already revived committed to three seasons, and Tiny Toons, which they're in the process of also reviving. The slapstick is already built-in, and their legacies aren't as robust as their predecessors. Stripping the existing IP in Looney Tunes down one slippery slope after another is not a legacy building. It's justifying gaslighting future generations of characters we may no longer recognize for those fortunate enough to experience the original.