Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Pepé Le Pew

Last week, I blogged about Telus using PC excerpts of a Pat Boone song "Speedy Gonzales" with less than flattering characterizations. This got me thinking of Pepé Le Pew with his franglaisisms. I'm sure some find these cartoons offensive, but the nature of the cultural characterizations are tamer than those of Speedy Gonzales.

Humour and stereotypes are often dicey terrain and the line of both acceptability and what many will deem as "funny" shifts over time. Some humour is meant to be provocative, such as "I Am Not Canadian" done by a Toronto radio station::

So, where is the line? I find writing comedy to be extremely challenging for this reason. The line is not a matter of intent or who is performing or wrote the material, but whether there's humanity in the writing. Regarding humour, it's one thing to serve up what is tantamount to a cultural "roast", but when the humour turns mean-spirited, is out for shock value, or goes for the cheap laughs, it takes on a different character. I think I'm paraphrasing sentiments echoed by Ricky Gervais.

I think for most viewers today, Pepé doesn't bring along that much cultural bad baggage, particularly when compared to other characters in film and television. The skunk angle is arguably the most problematic.

As a total aside, tabarnac, I just had an idea for a Québécois Pepé who was forced to live in Toronto. He missed his neighbourhood dép that had intermittent hours throughout the day/night, was chastized for booing the US national anthem at Air Canada Centre, and furtively chain-smokes his du Mauriers out of sight of judgmental Torontonians.

Here's "For Scent-imental Reasons" {1949}::

Twitterversion:: How culturally insensitive is Pepé Le Pew? @elsiebean @Prof_K

Song:: Françoise Hardy-"Tous Les Garçons et Les Filles"

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