Who Framed Roger Rabbit: Implications of Racism?

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Who Framed Roger Rabbit is an iconic hybrid animation-live action movie with its solid storytelling, memorable characters, and endless featuring of iconic cartoon characters from Disney, Warner Bros, Paramount, etc. (some in even the same scene no less). The book it was based on Who Censored Roger Rabbit by Gary Wolf while it has very little in common with the movie is also a very engaging read. It is also an allegory to racism in the 1940s. While a lot of the racist undertones in the book are played down in the movie there are clear hints of it.

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For instance, at the Ink and Paint Club Eddie visits the toons there are allowed to serve and perform but not allowed to watch. This is a reference to the Cotton Club established in the 1920s, which despite being a whites-only establishment featured several black musicians.

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Eddie himself seems to have his own prejudice towards toons outside of his backstory. Early on he’s established as a huge hater of toons. Yet later on when we see him at the club he warmly greets Betty Boop who is working there as a result of being left out of the toon colorization process and even has a bobblehead of her on his office desk. Up until this point all the toons, Eddie has been sour towards have been in color.

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Judge Doom’s nefarious plan to destroy Toontown and create a freeway in its place for cars to drive along is a reference to an actual plan to tear down poor neighborhoods in order to sell more vehicles. Doom’s plan in itself involves him hiding his true heritage as a toon himself and disguising himself as a high-rank public official with an iron fist on the second-class citizens of Toontown.

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Roger even at one point stands on a soapbox when telling Eddie about there being very little justice for toons anymore.

These examples along with its other iconic points make this movie relevant and worth studying even today.