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Ron DeSantis Blames Disney for Suddenly ‘Injecting Sexuality’ Into Cartoons as If Pepe Le Pew Doesn’t Exist

A split screen of Ron Desantis looking pensive next to an image of Pepe Le Pew grabbing a black and white cat in a non-consensual embrace

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis traveled to Nevada this week to stump for a Republican Senate candidate. Speaking at a Nevada bar, DeSantis rattled off all the culture war talking points he’s come to rest his entire political career on, including accusing Disney of trying to “inject sexuality” into “programming for very young kids.”

“And so my wife and I, you know we were thinking to ourselves, you know when we were young you could watch cartoons without having to worry,” DeSantis said. “Now, parents have to sit there and worry about, what are they trying to inject in? What type of ideology are they trying to pursue? And that is wrong.”

This is nonsense. Once again, we have a Republican demonstrating a total inability to see the mere existence of LGBTQ+ people as anything but inherently sexual. But romance (which is not the same as sex!) has always been a part of cartoons and children’s programming.

Take, for example, the conservative uproar over the news that there will be a same-sex kiss in the upcoming Toy Story spin-off Lightyear. People have been up in arms over this, insisting that in it’s inappropriate to have sex in kid’s movies and claiming, as DeSantis is, that this is something new. But if they’re going to view a kiss or romance in general as being too sexual for a Toy Story movie, then why haven’t they been saying that for the last 17 years?

four shots of characters kisses or being intimate in Toy Story movies
images: Disney/Pixar

Romance, love, crushes, attraction, and intimacy have always been a part of these stories. There is no reason to have a different reaction to seeing those things apply to LGBTQ+ characters except straight-up bigotry.

As for DeSantis’ claim that things were different, better, and safer, when he was a kid, that’s ridiculous. This man cannot handle a nonbinary character or a chaste kiss between two women popping up in a kid’s show or movie, but this is the kind of stuff he likely grew up on:

In response to the video of DeSantis’s speech, “Pepé Le Pew” was trending on Twitter Friday. That is a character who was so sexually enamored with a female cat that he repeatedly tried to force himself on her and that was the entire premise of every episode. Plus, when the character was cut from the recent Space Jam, a lot of these same people who can’t handle a simple same-sex kiss because they think it’s too sexual criticized Pepé’s removal as an example of “cancel culture” and “wokeness” run amok.

But sure Ron, it’s cartoons now that have the problem.

(image: James Gilbert/Getty Images, Warner Bros)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) has a lot of opinions about a lot of things. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband Brock Wilbur and too many cats.