Arturo Muñoz
Sports Editor

Trigger Warning: This article briefly discusses rape culture. Please read with caution.

After more than 20 years, the sequel of the 1996 Warner Brothers movie, Space Jam, Tunes and Michael Jordan are coming to theaters in Space Jam: A New Legacy. With this new film, we get the current face of the NBA, LeBron James taking the role of the NBA super star, played by Michael Jordan in the original film. Along with a new main actor, we get a new plot, as many have speculated. Even though the official trailer has yet to even be released, the movie has already begun stirring up controversies. 

Of course, the one which has gotten a lot of people mad, for some odd reason, is the character design of Lola Bunny. If you’re someone who has limited or no knowledge of Looney Tunes, let me give you a brief history of her character. Lola Bunny is the first Looney Tunes character to make their debut in a Looney Tunes-involved movie, and is currently the last character introduced as a main Looney Tunes character. She was created as a sort of partner to Bugs Bunny.

Currently, people are furious about her new character design because she does not look as sexually appealing as she did in the first movie. She, at first, wore a crop top with short shorts and spoke in a “seductive” tone. Throughout that first film, she was pushed as the “sexy” character; in her first scene, we see Bugs Bunny fall heads over heels for her, while Tweety Bird says, “she hot.” Then, in the beginning of the game between the Tune Squad and the Monstars, as the Looney Tunes are being introduced one by one, Lola gets some exaggerated whistles from the crowd.

Now, whether people are serious or not about this remains up in the air, but does it really matter if a cartoon rabbit changes a little bit? This is not even the first time Lola Bunny’s design has been changed, as many of the newer Looney Tunes shows do not have her look like she did in her debut. In The Looney Tunes Show, she seemed the exact opposite from the movie, as she was not sexualized. If anything, she looked like Bugs Bunny with a dress on. While her personality changed,  she was turned into a hyperactive and cheerful character, who had a large obsession with Bugs. She is not the first character to get a redesign in cartoon history.

That brings up to why people believe Lola is meant to stay as a sexually appealing character. After all, this is supposed to be a kids movie that a lot of adults will end up viewing for nostalgia’s sake. The movie is not intended to be like Who Framed Roger Rabbit, which targeted a much older audience. Even if it was for adults, does Lola Bunny really need to be a sexualized character in order for people to watch the movie? I think not. People are going to see a movie that involves basketball and Looney Tunes, and, well, that is why I am going to watch it.

That brings up another point, which seems to have made people mad — the removal of Pepe Le Pew the Skunk from the film. As a Looney Tunes fan, I was caught in the middle of this one. Pepe was a significant, but minor character in the Looney Tunes cartoons. Mostly, he was a character you would recognize and remember based on what his shorts were about. In every one of his 16 appearances, he is seen pursuing a cat, Penelope, in a very strong manner while she runs away from him due to his strong odor.

Growing up watching the many Looney Tunes shorts, whenever I saw a Pepe short, I did not see anything wrong — probably because I still had the innocence of a child. I just thought that the skunk was chasing the cat because the cat looked like a skunk and he wanted a friend. However, as you grow up, you start to notice that Pepe was acting very wrongly, and the original shorts try to pass off these concerning comical jokes. Many believe that he represents rape culture because he has no sense of consent. Although it was said that his part of the movie was to have LeBron James teach him about consent, it probably was not a great idea to include Pepe. His character could make some people very uncomfortable, especially since his personality is not what many people would want to see. 

Whether you agree or disagree with these changes that Warner Brothers has made, it really does not matter, as, more likely than not, you’re going to watch it. I know I will; after all, the movie brings nostalgia from many people’s childhoods. If the new movie is anything like the original, and they play Kurtis Blow’s Basketball in the beginning of the movie, I am sure you would forget about what has changed and enjoy the movie.

Featured Photo Courtesy of Cult MTL

  1. Leo
    April 3, 2021

    It’s very interesting but, to me, it’s just cancel culture in a nutshell. They could have used Pepe to turn things around into a positive message (as was first intended ?) but it’s easier not to think too much and just delete it. It’s pretty much the same for Lola. she could have been a team leader, a strong female figure with an important role AND have shape. You know, like a lot of women have breasts and thighs… Sexualizing her depends on how the movie portrays her in terms of character and scenario. They could have played on it again to carry a message of tolerance like “my body my choice, I’m free to be who I want, dress as I want…” and now it’s like being sexy… not even that… being a woman is a crime. But, hey, it’s Hollywood. We level things down. Nowadays movies are supposed to be entertaining, not make you think. It’s supposed to have a simple scenario just to cash in, not to educate…

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