When a sequel to Space Jam was first announced, people were confused. It’s not exactly a praised movie and nobody understands why it was made outside of Warner Brothers wanting to do something with Michael Jordan as he was returning to basketball after a short-lived baseball career. In fact the movie “attempts” to explain why Jordan went back to the NBA since nobody wants to believe he was getting burned out and wanted to try something new. I don’t know why people don’t want to believe that but it doesn’t really matter to this discussion.
LeBron James didn’t have anything to build a movie off of, but from what I can gather in the trailer above either this is about his son learning to love basketball or James realizing his son is allowed to not follow in his footsteps. Either way it’s relatively accepted in my circles that this movie doesn’t need to happen. And yet it is so let’s play the hand we’re dealt. What has popped up in recent days, including my forced downtime, are some rather unusual decisions by replacement director Malcom D. Lee concerning three characters in particular: Lola Bunny, Pepe Le Pew, and Speedy Gonzales. Of course you’ve probably read viewpoint after viewpoint both defending and roasting these decisions but if you clicked on this you somehow want to know mine. I do try to think these things out more rationally, and I’ll agree with whoever I want to. That’s the beauty of this being my site. I do question these decisions but it’s not that I don’t understand where they’re coming from. Well, all accept the last one. The last one is just plain stupid no matter how you look at it.
However, we’re starting with the one with the biggest buzz. Debuting in the original Space Jam, Lola was created to be a female counterpart and love interest to Bugs Bunny as well as, and I’m quoting from the Looney Tunes wiki, “female merchandising counterpart” (which I believe is also a quote on their part) to the grey wabbit. The wiki also describes her personality…because yes she had one…as follows:
Lola’s personality is a combination of the tomboy and femme fatale archetypes, along with the confident professional women often featured in the films of Howard Hawks. She is a tough talking, no-nonsense woman (as displayed by her reactions to being called the term “doll,” which she finds to be derogatory and highly offensive) who is extremely independent and self-reliant. She is highly athletic (easily the best player after Michael Jordan himself). She is also incredibly seductive in her behavior, quite capable of easily charming men around her (as displayed with the other Looney Tunes in her first appearance in the movie but with none more so than Bugs Bunny himself, her boyfriend).
This portrayal continued into Baby Looney Tunes, minus the seductive femme fatale of course. They’re toddlers for Jones’ sake! She was a tomboy who liked basketball the best. This is just fine and even if they toned down the sexy I wouldn’t see any problem here. Apparently someone doesn’t like tomboys because in The New Looney Tunes Show onward she’s more like…
…being shown as somewhat less intelligent, more clueless to her surroundings and situations, talks abnormally fast, and tends to obsess over Bugs.
Somehow this was considered better because she’s…not sexy? Instead of Bugs having to win her over she’s obsessive from the start to the point of being a stalker. (You saw the list, you know what’s coming, we’ll be back to this.) She’s a ditz without the confidence of her previous self and just kind of crazed. Somehow this was better because she wasn’t a “trophy girl”…except she wasn’t. Look at the recurring list of Looney Tunes. The female contingent tends to be Petunia Pig, who blinks in and out of existence, a cat whose name we didn’t know for years, an old woman, and a witch obsessed with remaining ugly. Lola is confident, strong, independent, doesn’t need a man but is willing to date Bugs because she wants to, and with some tweaking could be a role model for girls who want to play sports at a time when we’re supposedly encouraging that. Instead we get spastic ditz.
Not that it matters in Space Jam 2 mind you. Lee’s Lola is way different.
“She probably has the most human characteristics of the Tunes; she doesn’t have a thing like a carrot or a lisp or a stutter. So we reworked a lot of things, not only her look, like making sure she had an appropriate length on her shorts and was feminine without being objectified, but gave her a real voice.”
So we’re throwing Kath Soucie under the bus. I guess Zendaya looks better on the promotion circuit because I only found one voice actor credit on IMDB. And yes, Souice is still alive as is her replacement Kristen Wig from New Looney Tunes Show and Brit McKillip from Baby Looney Tunes. So what’s Lola mark 3 like?
EW’s Derek Lawrence explains, “New Legacy will find her having branched out on her own and reluctant to be pulled back in by her old team, and, chiefly, Bugs Bunny.”
Specifically, Lee reveals her reintroduction will be in the world of Wonder Woman, “We wanted to meet her with the Amazons, trying to find greener pastures for herself.”
The director concludes, “As she says in the movie, there’s more to her than just being a Tune.”
Why? EVERY OTHER LOONEY TUNE IS HAPPY BEING A TUNE!
And let’s talk about the physical redesign before we move on. Look, I never considered Lola sexy to me. She just doesn’t reach a high enough level of anthropomorphic for me to put her with the space aliens, elves, and other sci-fi/fantasy creatures in the multiverse. No, my problem with the redesign, aside from her head looking too much like Bugs if not the for the fur color and blonde hair patch, is why they did it. Despite that one piece of fanart being circulated around the net like it came from the movie Lola isn’t all that busty. She’s a tomboy basketball player and a smaller chest is to her benefit, plus none of the non-human Tunes main and visiting cast have ever had a bust, at best a resemblance of shape as a shortcut to say this is a girl. However, as has been pointed out before there’s some reverse body shaming going on now where they’re sending the message that if you have any size bust that may attract the dreaded “male gaze” you are immediately a non-person and just exist to make men horny. Yeah, I have busty friends who are not sexual in the slightest except maybe with their boyfriends/spouses and I’ve known non-busty women hornier than some men I know. So kiss off!
Pepe Le Pew
I don’t know why the audio keeps dropping on this one but it does prove a point that Pepe’s “relationship” (I think that’s the second time this week I’ve used quotation marks on that word) with Penelope (and the various characters she played…I didn’t even know she had a name until a series of Looney Tune themed graham crackers in the 80s, and even then it wasn’t official until 2013’s short Carotblanca…is not what it appears to be. Pepe comes off as a stalker (although apparently it’s okay if a girl stalks a guy?), but that’s only on the surface. Watch these shorts more closely and you’ll see the problem the lady cats have is Pepe’s smell. And even then Pepe only pursues them because thanks to a conspicuously placed stripe of white paint he assumes she’s a skunk. A true un femme skunk de flower would be perfectly okay with it, and in one story he sees the stripe washed off of her and leaves her alone.
That’s the thing the surface-level haters don’t know because they don’t actually watch or read what they complain about. (And no, that’s not some replacement for “SJW”. I’ve seen people on the right do this as much as the left–it’s just the SJWs have elevated not knowing what they’re ranting at to an art form because that takes time to actually watch something they don’t actually care about otherwise.) The Pepe cartoons, like many of the Looney Tune stories, are exaggerations. In Pepe’s case it’s the usual stereotype about lovers in Paris, especially the French themselves. Pepe’s cartoons take that to absurd levels, to the point Pepe doesn’t know that an actual wildcat that escaped from the zoo is not a girl skunk. In another story a cat paints the stripe on herself to chase people off and basically gets punished for it by being Pepe’s latest object of overaffection. Again, why is it not okay for Pepe to do this but New Lola does it to Bugs and it’s hilarious?
Oh, and Director Lee sir, the Looney Tunes were never just a kids cartoon (especially the really early ones while ignoring the racist parts) but you don’t get to complain about how Lola and Pepe don’t belong in a kids movie when your trailer FEATURES APPEARANCES BY THE DROOGS FROM A CLOCKWORK ORANGE AND PENNYWISE FROM THE IT REMAKE AMONG YOUR WARNER BROTHERS/HANNA-BARBERA CAMEOS!
Much like a certain other cartoon cat-fighting mouse, Speedy is occasionally the bad guy, but often is treated as a champion of the starving people…who just happen to also be mice. Billed as “the fastest mouse in all Mexico”, the recent calls to cancel Speedy are not something new for the character.
In 1999, Cartoon Network ceased to air any of Speedy Gonzales’ cartoons. In an interview with Fox News on 28 March 2002, Cartoon Network spokeswoman Laurie Goldberg commented, “It hasn’t been on the air for years because of its ethnic stereotypes.” This is widely believed to refer to Speedy’s fellow mice, who are all shown as being slow and lazy, and sometimes even appear intoxicated. However, fan campaigns to put Speedy back on the air resulted in the return of the animated shorts to Cartoon Network in 2002, although the shorts are rarely shown.
Yeah, I don’t know about that. This would assume the critics actually watched a Speedy Gonzales cartoon. They probably heard Mel Blanc’s exaggerated accent and Speedy’s wardrobe and jumped to conclusions. I’m positive that’s what’s happening now.
In “Gonzales’ Tamales“, the town mice instigate a feud between Speedy and Sylvester because the speedy rodent has been stealing the hearts of all the females. Much of the dialogue between Mexican characters is in English and the small amount of Spanish that peppers the dialogue consists of basic greetings, goodbyes, exclamations, and misplaced references to popular Mexican foods. This criticism prompted Cartoon Network to largely shelve Speedy’s films when it gained exclusive rights to broadcast them in 1999. However, fan campaigns to put Speedy back on the air, backed by The League Of United Latin American Citizens, saw the shorts’ return to air from 2002.
Yep, those fans were Mexicans or of Mexican decent, and Speedy is still popular in Mexico. So when that group I like to call the “good white people” who are ever so happy to be offended for minorities (see also the recent nonsense with Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben’s, and the chef on Cream Of Wheat and it’s spinoff brands) wanted Speedy out of Space Jam: A New Legacy as well they clearly didn’t learn from the past. They did however earn a comment from stand-up comic Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias (one of those stand-up comedians I mentioned last night who can actually make me laugh), who will be voicing Speedy in the movie, to basically shut up about what they don’t know about.
Most of the replies were in support of him taking on the role and pushing back against any further calls to end Speedy. Even if this was a preemptive strike there is certainly precedence for it happening if it isn’t already. He’s done some voice work so I have a bit more faith in him, but I’m willing to see what Zendaya can do since she is a good actress.
Overall this movie is not sounding good. Lola’s redesign is the least of the sins against her while Pepe and Speedy are under attack from people who have never actually watched their cartoons. I’m actually looking less forward to this movie than I was when it was announced, though there may be one reason this is allowed to continue: it makes one curious if the end product is as bad as we think, leading to more money for Warner Brothers no matter how crap or good the movie turns out to be. This is the upper echelon’s way of not caring so long as they make money. Bad press is still press to them because they don’t care about creativity, good characters, or good stories. They only care about money and politics. So it’s kind of interesting that the Looney Tunes, often considered rebels compared to the classic Disney characters, are now being forced to conform.