If there is an official meeting place for cancel culture discussions, it may be Twitter. Recently, users have been outraged about the Pepe Le Pew being cancelled. This came about after it was revealed the character is not in Space Jam 2 and won’t be in any future productions from Warner Bros. The character was accused of contributing to rape culture. Following this news, Twitter users are demanding Miss Piggy be cancelled next. The Muppets character has always been violent and pushy toward Kermit the Frog. If Pepe Le Pew is out, should Miss Piggy be going with her?
The road to cancelling Miss Piggy has been a long one. This conversation actually began in a New York Times article by Charles M. Blow. The article focused on six Dr. Seuss books with racist depictions. These books have been pulled from publication. In the article, the author mentioned problematic characters he saw growing up, including Pepe Le Pew. Many readers took issue with his statements about the character contributing to rape culture. He’s hardly the first person to point this out. Dave Chapelle talked about this in his standup in 2000. To address the issue, the columnist posted a tweet defending his statement.
The conversation on Twitter has become heated as people defend a cartoon they love growing up. Naturally, the next step has been picking out other characters to cancel. One of the most popular has been Miss Piggy, but the #CancelACartoonCharacter hashtag has gone much further.
It’s unclear how many Twitter users are aware, but pointing out Miss Piggy as problematic is nothing new. Many articles point out the character’s troubling behavior. Miss Piggy is a domestic abuser who karate chops Kermit at every turn. She yells at him constantly. Couples counselors have been interviewed. They have all pointed out that the on-again and off-again nature of their relationship is a classic cycle. There is rarely anything good to say about the relationship. The story of Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog is tragic.
Does that mean Miss Piggy should be cancelled? Twitter users demanding this move are doing so in the name of fairness.
The Miss Piggy comparison isn’t perfect. Pepe Le Pew was accused of contributing to rape culture. The Muppets Show character is a domestic abuser. That doesn’t seem to be the point of the discussion, though. The discussion is about why cancel one character and not all of them? What warrants a character being cancelled? And if we’re going to broaden that conversation, it raises a lot of questions about what cancel culture means.
Is cancel culture erasing a character or person from history? Removing them from past films? Putting warnings in front of old shows with racist content? Does it count as cancel culture if the character still exists in past forms but won’t be used in future productions? In the case of Miss Piggy, would her character be “cancelled” if she was written in a new way? In the case of Pepe Le Pew, the character’s entire storyline was attempting to force a cat into a romantic relationship. To keep Pepe Le Pew, he would have to be entirely reimagined. Miss Piggy has other things going on. Her character could still have the parts fans came to love about her, like running a business and being bossy, without being a perpetrator of domestic violence. Would rewriting a character count as cancelling them?
These are more questions than Twitter seems ready to address when it comes to Miss Piggy or cancel culture as a whole, but ones studios will be facing as these covnersations continue.