When I learned that Pepe Le Pew was the latest casualty of cancel culture, I shook my head in mild amazement. And yet, as so often happens, the bad quickly became an open door of opportunity. It just so happened that the famous (infamous?) skunk was in a town nearby, so I made a few phone calls. Finally, through a friend of a friend, I managed to arrange a meeting at a little French café.
“Bonjour, mon ami!” Pepe said cheerily as I sat down across the round glass table from him, but I could tell there was a tinge of sadness behind the mammalian chipperness. I looked across the basket of croissants and thanked him for meeting with me.
“Eeet ees my pleasooor,” he replied, “Zso I em a beet confyoosed es to why a preesher woud wunt to speek to ey skunk, especiallee a now unemployed skunk.”
I could see how that would seem odd. So I explained as simply as I could that, having grown up with characters like him (though I was compelled to admit to him that he was actually always among the least favorite of cartoon characters, since as a kid I did not yet even understand the “girls are desirable” thing) and Speedy Gonzalez and the Muppets and more, I was interested in how they felt at morphing from bringers of joy and mirth to public enemies.
“Ahh, eet is zee way of things, I suppose,” he said with a touch of resignation. “And yet, I cannot feegyur out vy peepole ahr no longeyr able to deesteengwish between cartoons and reality, and entiyorely mees zee point of theengs. Do zay not undayrstand zat zee point of my performencays was zee rideeculosness uf a skunk pairsuing a cat, and had nothing to do weeth humans?”
“Apparently not,” I said as I reached for a bit of bread.
“Well zen, Mr. Preesher, what does zat book you hold say about all uf dees?”
“Surprisingly,” I grinned, “there actually is a lot of guidance in there that could be applied to all of this.”
I opened my Bible and showed the discouraged skunk a couple of verses to begin with.
Proverbs 15:13 A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.
Proverbs 17:22 A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.
“It used to be that people were a bit more sensible,” I said. “People in this era have lost their merry hearts and are stealing the merry hearts from everyone else as well. They are killing humor, fun, silliness, all of the things that have always made those merry hearts. The kids of my generation grew up watching Wyle E. Coyote use dynamite and drop heavy things off of cliffs trying to get the Road Runner, but we knew not to do anything like that in real life. We also knew that the whole point of your schtick was that you were a skunk, and therefore smelled bad, and the cat wanted to get away from you.”
I could tell he was a bit hurt by that, so I quickly said, “no offense,” and continued.
“We read Dr. Seuss and do you know what we learned? We learned to enjoy reading. We did not learn ‘racism,’ we learned ‘One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish.’ We watched the Muppets and learned how very different kinds of ‘people’ could still all get along. We watched Speedy Gonzalez and, crazily enough, actually learned a bit of Spanish. We watched Yosemite Sam and learned that losing your temper was a bad idea. We watched Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd, and... well, I don’t think we learned much, but we all thought it was stinking hilarious, and none of us went out and shot up anything.”
“Eet ees madening, I know,” Pepe chimed in. “Not only doo peepole tek things fah too seereeously, zey do so eenconseestently. Zey accuse me of being a rapist, and yet ignore Sylvester for trying to eet zee burd. Ees he a murdurur? And ees Marvin zee Marsheean perpetuahteeng raysheeal stereotypes against ‘illegal aliens?’ Fred and Bahnee went to werk eesh day and left zee wives home; will zey be cancelled as well? Where weel eet all end?”
I fell silent and thought on that. I began to have an awful fear as to the answer. Where will it all end? Unless something changes, in the very unmerriest of worlds. A world where cartoons are nothing more than preachy progressive screeds. A world where humor has to be run through the legal department before being delivered. A world where “I’m offended” are the most powerful words on earth. A world where everyone lives their days with the words “be reserved” at the very top of their to-do list. A world where writers measure every word carefully rather than letting their thoughts flow freely. A world where the vibrant colors of creativity fade into the dull gray of official approval.
A world nothing at all like what God intended. He said in John 10:10 “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” That was not just talking about eternal life, but also about a joyful life here and now. The modern Ministers Of Misery in the Church Of Cancel Culture are ripping that to shreds and doing so under a cloak of piety.
And it stinks like a skunk.