Frenchie and the Italian Skunk

7 Dec

“You know, it is possible to be too attractive!” – Pepé Le Pew, fictional character in the Warner Bros. Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons.

Have you ever wondered what the French could possibly think of this Pepé Le Pew? This French skunk constantly strolling the streets of Paris, running after the ladies, talking about l’Amour with a big A, never giving up on a possible romantic lead and of course, as every skunk should, smelling terribly bad? What do the French say? How do they react? And does it even air in France?

Speedy Gonzales is Mexican. We all know that. Pepé Le Pew is French. Well… not entirely. See Pepé Le Pew is French… except in France! Quoi? How could that be? Isn’t it ruining the character’s true [pungent] essence? After all, Pepé Le Pew represents all of the millions of stereotypes Americans have about the French, so why would Pepé’s nationality change in France of all places?

I discovered what the French stereotypes are when I moved to the U.S. How could I be aware of them beforehand? It’s not like we’re taught what our own stereotypes are around the world in school. I learned very quickly that the French smell, they don’t shower, the women don’t shave their legs or underarms, they drink wine all day long from breakfast on, they eat cheese all day as well, carry a baguette under their arm, wear a beret every day, are extremely rude, speak with a very strong accent and most importantly laugh with this impossible obnoxious laugh – a laugh that comes from so deep within, the first time I heard someone perform it in front of me as a very American joke, I thought I heard the new sound effects for Jurassic Park 4 by an old T. rex who smoked all his life. Eet iz rathere fueny, neaux? Honhonhonhonhonhanhanhanhan! French people never laugh, they are serious.

“Ahhh… la belle femme skunk fatale!!”

When references were made in conversation about Pepé Le Pew being French, how funny the cartoon was, the accent, the trail of smell coming from his tail etc. I thought to myself… how could I have missed that? I watched Looney Tunes all the time when I was young and I could not remember this French character. And then it hit me… Pepé Le Pew is Pépé le putois, this funny skunk I used to watch all the time on TV, being real suave and smooth while trying to get all the ladies… Yes! That was really funny! And I also loved his strong Italian accent because it reminded me of all of the stereotypes the French have about the Italians. Oui, Pepé Le Pew is Italian in France.

If you think about it for a minute, it makes sense after all. Would a loud obnoxious American speaker carrying a hamburger and a can of Coke while wearing a cowboy hat and boots with a gun on his side and a Marlboro pack in his pocket be a funny character in a cartoon in the U.S.? Probably not! But it would be in the rest of the world. Now that I watch Pepé Le Pew in English, I really appreciate the humor and creativity that went into it – especially the signs and titles with bad franglais and accents or apostrophes added rándo’mly òn ev’ery wôrds. In any case, accents or no accents, smell or no smell, when Pepé’s on screen, romance is in the air! “How is it that she can sleep when I am so near? We must stoke the furnace of love, must we not? […] But madame! I have overstoked the furnace, yes? Madame! Your conduct is unseemly! Control yourself! Madame!” And here is the real treat: double le Pepé vidéos. “And if you have not tried it, do not knock it!”

See French Pepé in English here.

And discover Italian Pepé en français here (fast forward to 2’00 min.)

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14 Responses to “Frenchie and the Italian Skunk”

  1. Jeannetta Vivere December 7, 2010 at 9:36 PM #

    smiling big here, we name men “Pepe” us girls…I don’t want the french nor Italian men to change a thing about themselves…I’ve have spent countless trips admiring all of it…I don’t take it serious “de manz” and “de romanzce” but I love it….i’m getting ready for my 3rd trip to paris..both times never smelled a thing, why is that ? and..most important i was looking for the curly black hairs on the ladies armpits…didn’t spot one ?

    are the French not French anymore ?

    I never did believe all that jazz in the first place. Going to share what u wrote with my traveling girlfriends which I’m sure they will enjoy 🙂

    Like

  2. Bernard M December 8, 2010 at 10:10 AM #

    Salut David !
    Tiens c’est marrant… Pépé le putois Italien ? Je viens de regarder le cartoon que tu as mis en lien, et en effet…
    Mais cela n’a pas été toujours ainsi : quand j’étais plus jeune et que je regardais “ça cartoone” sur Canal (on va dire fin années 80), non seulement Pépé le putois était français, mais il avait l’accent et la voix d’Yves Montand (ou plutôt d’un imitateur de ce dernier), ce qui me faisait beaucoup rire. Je crois d’ailleurs que la version originale s’inspirait soit de Maurice Chevalier soit d’Yves Montand, les deux français connus aux US dans les années 60.
    Qu’est ce qui a pu faire changer le doublage de Pépé ? Bizarre…. La mort de Montand au début des 90’s ?

    Like

  3. Bernard M December 8, 2010 at 10:12 AM #

    Tiens, le Wikipedia français parle de ce changement de VF :
    http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/P%C3%A9p%C3%A9_le_putois

    Like

    • Jeannetta Vivere December 8, 2010 at 7:44 PM #

      It didn’t post you on my blog when I did that press button but I can add it on my blogroll if that would be okay with you?

      Like

      • D'Santo December 8, 2010 at 10:57 PM #

        Yes that would be fine! You can also paste the link to my post on a new post of yours on your blog if you want to.

        Like

  4. Jeannetta Vivere December 9, 2010 at 10:29 AM #

    I have you listed now….I do believe in sharing good blogs 🙂

    http://j3dnight.wordpress.com/

    you are on the left-side, I still have lots more to explore on your site.
    thanks for your work and sense of humor 🙂

    Like

  5. Jordan January 6, 2011 at 6:28 PM #

    A little birdie named Roxanne linked me to your blog. I have a question about your post, well kind of. I was wondering if you ever read Harry Potter in French. There is a character, Fleur, who appears in book 4. She and her fellow students are, by the American text, obviously French, as their dialogue is similar to “Eet iz rathere fueny, neaux?” There is a Bulgarian contingent as well. Just curious how they treat those in the French version. Maybe Steve knows 🙂

    Like

    • D'Santo January 6, 2011 at 7:18 PM #

      Hi there, I did a quick research and they were not able to reproduce this in the French version unfortunately. Since her name is French already and they did not change it in the French version, they weren’t able to make her of a different nationality either because it would have looked very strange. I did find that her nickname from Ginny in French is Fleurk (I think it’s Phlegm in English). Fleurk is great because it’s a mix of the word Fleur, her name, and the word Beurk which means Yuck. Clever.
      I also found this and thought it’d be of interest: http://www.cjvlang.com/Hpotter/wordplay/phlegm.html

      Like

  6. Kendra April 29, 2011 at 12:28 PM #

    hilarious!! you have a talent. And one of your cats looks just like Penelope Pussycat.

    Like

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Frenchie and the 7 Link Project « Frenchie and the Yankee - August 23, 2011

    […] this day, I still get asked if Pepé Le Pew is French in France? Well no, he isn’t. And the Italian Skunk post answers all of these questions. There are even videos of Pepé in both the French and American […]

    Like

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