THE INCLUSIVE SKUNK

Back in the 1970s, the gay liberation movement created the first impulse for queer culture. Initially, the idea was to protect the LGBT population from exclusion. Over time, this politics spread to the entire population. Anyone who wasn’t included started feeling a bit queer. Nowadays, inclusion is a prime-time topic on the political and corporate agenda.

Much has been written on the subject. Yet media representation does not get enough attention. One major field to consider is animation; this discipline fosters a special relationship with queerness. Animation uses metamorphosis as its main device. While film jumps from one thought to another via cuts, animation simply morphs the body. This lends the medium a more direct access to identity shifts. Animation understands that the mind is not tied to the body in predetermined fashion.

The most famous queer character in animation is probably Pepe Le Pew, Warner Brothers’ skunk charmer. In every episode of the cartoon, Pepe is blissfully unaware of his own smell. A cat accidentally morphs into a skunk, and Pepe just won’t get off her tail. He was recently the focus of a heated debate between liberals and conservatives. Liberals wanted to ‘’cancel’’ Pepe because he spreads male-chauvinist ideas. Conservatives defended the skunk, claiming that he stands for traditional masculinity. Whatever your position in the debate, the skunk is a undeniably queer. His appeal stems from the fact that culture uses borderline areas to establish its identity. Better than the well-adjusted, the outcast understand how society really works. We may try to repress otherness as ‘’weird’’ and ‘’disgusting’’. But our gaze is irrevocably drawn to it.

Once again, animation helps us to cope with modern challenges. The love game isn’t that much different from the work game. In both fields, you cannot measure success by your own prejudice.