The following is my entry in the Reel Infatuation Blogathon, being co-hosted by the blogs Font and Frock and Silver Screenings from June 8-10, 2018. Click on the above banner, and read about bloggers’ crushes on memorable characters from movies, TV shows, and books!
(WARNING: The following blog entry, while not overly explicit, is as risque and politically incorrect as this blog ever gets. If such subject matter even mildly offends you, turn back now.)
It’s not an original observation to say that Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) is a landmark in American film animation.
IMHO, the same can be said for the movie’s buxom heroine, Jessica Rabbit.
When my blog was given its first Liebster Award in 2015, I responded by posting several facts about myself, including the following:
A lot of my readers and fellow bloggers are female, so I truly hope this won’t offend you. But I have to confess, I am mesmerized by large breasts. I don’t get it, it’s embarrassing, and I try my best not to stare. But then, Christina Hendricks. Or somebody who dresses like her. And then she’s mortified that I’m wide-eyed over the very appendages that she’s put on display. It’s God’s curse on me.
So you can just imagine the effect that Jessica Rabbit had on me. It was as if some wizard had taken the essence of Jane Russell, Jayne Mansfield, and Adrienne Barbeau, transplanted them into one single human female body, and then injected her with hyper-silicone.
It turns out that I had the right idea, just with different actresses. Gary K. Wolf — who wrote Who Censored Roger Rabbit?, the novel from which the movie was loosely adapted — based Jessica on Red, the curvaceous dancer in Tex Avery’s cartoon Red Hot Riding Hood (1943). Richard Williams, the movie’s animation director, said, “I tried to make her like Rita Hayworth, we took her hair from Veronica Lake, and [live-action director Robert] Zemeckis kept saying, ‘What about the look Lauren Bacall had?’”
Upon the movie’s original release, many party-poopers complained that Jessica was a prime example of male sexism, as she was given outsized physical attributes that amped up the objectification of women. There’s no doubt that Jessica was intended to rev up male moviegoers, but I submit that she has several virtues that make her far more “relatable” than the typical femme fatale.
Jessica is not about being unattainable, a fact laid bare by her choice of spouse — gangly, hyperactive Roger Rabbit. When questioned by detective Eddie Valiant as to what she sees in Roger, she replies, “He makes me laugh.”
Despite her curvaceous appearance, Jessica is innocent at heart. Her most damning extramarital activity is being caught playing patty-cake with a human male. (As Jessica famously described herself, “I’m not bad. I’m just drawn that way.”)
Jessica is far from helpless. When one of the bad-guy weasels reaches into Jessica’s overwhelming cleavage to cop a feel, he is taken aback (and thrown back) when his hand gets caught in a bear trap that Jessica had placed in her decolletage. (Valiant tells Jessica admiringly, “Nice booby trap.”)
Finally, I submit that Jessica does a nice turnabout on “the male gaze” — the feminist theory that women in film are depicted solely as sexual objects for the pleasure of the male viewer. If you believe that Jessica is an example/victim of this, I think it is leavened by, again, her choice of husband. If someone as un-macho as Roger Rabbit can be adored by someone like Jessica, then there’s hope for all American males. Conversely, when a man truly falls in love with a woman, he sees his partner as someone like Jessica, no matter what her physical attributes (or lack of same).
I have but one regret regarding my infatuation with Jessica. Someone once observed that, if a 1930’s moviegoer was stealthy enough, he could sneak onto the Warner Bros. movie lot and actually watch James Cagney or Humphrey Bogart doing their thing…yet that same moviegoer could be invited right up to the camera to see Bugs Bunny, and without the necessary animation, all he would see is a flat, inactive cel. In that sense, Jessica really is unattainable. Imagine being a red-blooded male moviegoer, knowing that, try as you might, you would never be able to shtup Jessica Rabbit.