Jessica Rabbit: Femme Fatale or Asexual Icon?

Today we discuss the iconic 1988 film “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”, spotlighting Jessica Rabbit. Is she a classic example of a femme fatale or is she secretly a misunderstood Asexual character way ahead of her time? After all, she’s not “bad”. She’s just drawn that way.


Courtney: Hello everyone and welcome back to the podcast. My name is Courtney, I am here with my spouse, Royce, and together we are The Ace Couple. And today we are asking the question on everybody’s mind: is Jessica Rabbit an asexual icon?

Royce: Is that a question that’s on everyone’s minds?

Courtney: [emphatically] Everyone’s minds.

Royce: Right– right now?

Courtney: Right this minute. This episode is gonna come out and every single one of our subscribers is gonna be like, “Hey, i was just wondering about that. What fortuitous timing that they’re talking about it now.”

Royce: So before last night, neither of us had actually seen the 1988 movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

Courtney: I know, it took us so long.

Royce: I feel like I had seen a couple of minutes out of context here and there when it was on TV.

Courtney: Oh, absolutely. I mean, this was a show, or a movie rather, that I was very, very familiar with throughout, like– you said, it came out in ’87?

Royce: ’88.

Courtney: ’88. So, like throughout the 90s especially, it was on TV a lot. And I know a lot of people who had watched it, and a lot of people who loved this movie. So it was often just like on the TV in the background, but I never sat down to actually watch it. Never once.

Royce: It was also just an odd mix of live action and animation, and it was animation that featured old cartoon characters, and so I looked at it as a kid and was like, “I don’t think I’m interested in this.”

Courtney: I didn’t even know that there were old cartoon characters. Because I hadn’t ever seen the clips that had, like, Dumbo and the brooms from Fantasia. That, honestly– even though they didn’t play a major role in the plot, that might have convinced me to watch it sooner, had I known that.

Courtney: But all I really saw in a few clips here and there were like the titular: Roger Rabbit, Jessica Rabbit, and then the baby that had a potty mouth and talked like–

Royce: A chain smoker?

Courtney: [laughs] Yes, exactly. And so, like, nothing appealed to me about any of those cartoons. And I will actually fully admit here that when this was on in the background in the 90s – I think even throughout the 2000s it was pretty commonly on, just like cable TV – I had a little, I don’t know if I want to call it internalized misogyny, but I saw Jessica Rabbit the way she was drawn, and I was like, “This isn’t a show for me.” Oh, how wrong I was! And that is exactly what we’re going to talk about today.

Royce: So for those of you who haven’t seen it, we’ll try to go through a bit of a description of the movie. As we just said, it is a mixture of live action and animation sort of blended together. Again, it was made in ’88, so it was not particularly well blended together by today’s standards.

Courtney:[laughs] I did notice that the cartoons amongst real people looked so much better than the real people in the cartoon world.

Royce: There were some times where their compositing of the two frames clipped pretty badly.

Courtney: Yeah. And I mean– I think it was probably pretty groundbreaking for the time to mix live action and animation the way that they did. But– So not only is just like– And you know, we were both just talking about this when we put it on, where so many shows and movies that we saw on cable TV or on VHS, the quality is so noticeably bad and so much worse than it is now, but I never know that until I see it again. And then I’m like, “Oh yeah, this is bad.” It’s almost like my brain, when I’m thinking through scenes that I’ve seen before, like retroactively remasters it. Like in my head the quality is better and newer than it actually was. So it still catches me off guard every time I watch something that is, like, older than – I don’t know – 2005.

Royce: For me it’s always the old movie openings that used to be so common, but now I’ve forgotten them until they start up again and you hear that familiar sound, or see a logo, or something like that.

Courtney: I think Disney still does that. Because they still have their, like, castle.

Royce: They do. I think that they’ve changed a little bit, I could be wrong. But they were also just for non, like, Disney franchise things. They were just common movie opening scenes.

Courtney: Oh yeah, I haven’t seen the lion in a while.

Royce: But anyway, this movie is set in Hollywood in 1947. It takes sort of a– I guess would you say like a film noir sort of approach, following a private detective.

Courtney: Oh, there are definitely elements of that, because it’s– it’s definitely a whodunit. It’s definitely, like, hardened detective who has turned to drink–

Royce: Is constantly drinking, there’s a lot of smoking, that sort of atmosphere. The movie starts out, though, jumping right into an animated scene, fully animated, with some sort of older cartoon like Tom and Jerry sort of shenanigans.

Courtney: Oh, very Tom and Jerry.

Royce: Where the titular Roger the Rabbit is tasked with looking after a baby while the baby’s mom is out. And after a very quick series of violent accidents around the kitchen, a director yells, “Cut,” walks into the cartoon and the camera pans out and you realize that this is a set and the toons that we saw, including the baby, are actors.

Courtney: Yes. And as I was watching this, since this was the first time I have seen that opening scene, it occurred to me that this could be a very clear influence for the video game Who’s Your Daddy?! where one person plays a daddy and the other person plays the baby, and you have to try to keep the baby alive. So that means, if you’re playing the baby, your job, the way you win is to kill the baby.

Royce: Yes, it’s a competitive game.

Courtney: You can– you can literally, as the baby, just, like, walk into the oven and it’s horrible. But I saw so many elements of that, like, look at all the ways this baby could die right now. And this rabbit is frantically scrambling around trying to keep the baby alive. But the baby’s fine, because this is a cartoon. It’s the– It’s the rabbit that’s getting all beat up by… everything.

Royce: Everything. But yes, on the set of this film production we’re very quickly told that the– this production company has been licensing essentially a number of working toons – I believe they’re licensed from Disney – and we get this view that in this world toons are real but they’re also sort of this exploited working class.

Courtney: Yeah… There’s– There’s a bit of a – I almost want to say – racial segregation going on. Like they have their own town where they all live and they just come into the real world to work.

Royce: Right. Toontown is separated by, like, I don’t know, an interdimensional barrier in a tunnel.

Courtney: And the best part is they work for peanuts, as the slimy corporate executive who literally throws peanuts out the window at Dumbo. And now there’s a live action Dumbo. I haven’t seen it, but boy, we sure have come full circle, uh?

Royce: Getting into the plot of, little bit in, we meet our protagonist, Eddie Valiant, who is a private detective who has previously worked with toons before.

Courtney: I was under the impression that he is a detective-detective and is just taking private jobs on the side because he needs money. Because he’s got a boss who comes in at one point who, like, slams a trash can down to wake him up, and when a murder actually does take place, he’s gone, like, “Come on, we got a job to do.” And goes out with a team.

Royce: You asking that question made me realize that I don’t know how… detectives work.

Courtney:[laughs] How did they work in the 40s in a world where half of the people are cartoons?

Royce: He is billed as a private detective, whatever that means.

Courtney: Whatever that means.

Royce: But his first task is to try to get some information on what’s going on with Roger Rabbit, who is currently struggling with his acting work. And the idea is that there’s something going on in his relationship with his wife, Jessica Rabbit.

Courtney: I love Jessica Rabbit. After watching the movie, I get it. I love her. I feel so bad that a younger Courtney saw this character and I was like, “[groans] I don’t want to watch that.” But she does look very, very sexual. And so as an asexual person who doesn’t enjoy consuming sexual media, I was kind of turned off. But she is, I mean, she’s amazing. She’s definitely, like, if we’re doing a film noir, kind of a detective caper like she is the stand-in for a femme fatale character. But I would argue that she subverts it quite a bit. But the first time we see her she’s– I guess she’s performing as kind of a burlesque performer, because they call it the Toon Revue.

Royce: I think that’s a fitting description for the performance, yeah.

Courtney: Because, yeah, she comes out and she just sings a song, but before that it’s definitely a variety show like they have, like–

Royce: Donald and Daffy Duck.

Courtney: Donald and Daffy Duck!

Royce: On dueling pianos.

Courtney: Dueling pianos!

Royce: Where they’re actually, like, cartoon-blowing each other up.

Courtney: Which was hilarious. And then there were– there was not one, but two hooks that came from offstage to pull them off. It was hilarious.

Royce: Which– this is a good point to start to describe the differences between the real characters and the toon characters in this series. Because we see cartoon characters doing cartoon things all the time, like they are basically immortal, like virtually immortal.

Courtney: Yes.

Royce: They go through things, through situations that would easily kill a person. And so they’re kind of like these super powered beings.

Courtney: Yeah, yeah, and–

Royce: And it’s not a case of, “Well, the cartoons can’t really do any harm,” because we learn that our protagonist’s brother was killed by a toon who dropped a piano on his head.

Courtney: Yes, which does kill humans, wouldn’t kill a toon.

Royce: But early on in the scene, as Eddie is going to this club…?

Courtney: Yeah, club. The Toon Revue. I think the club had a name that had paint in the name maybe.

Royce: Ink And Paint.

Courtney: Ink And Paint.

Royce: But he asked for a drink, and asked for a scotch on the rocks and, as the waiter is leaving, he’s immediately like, “And I mean ice!” [Courtney laughs] And what he gets back is again the literal order of a scotch–

Courtney: With rocks.

Royce: –with rocks in it.

Courtney: Literal rocks.

Royce: Because toons compulsively do things that are literal for fun.

Courtney: [laughs] Yes.

Royce: Like, to be funny.

Courtney: They are– And this is actually– This isn’t just a fun fact, this is important to our analysis about whether or not Jessica Rabbit is an asexual icon. The compulsive literality of the cartoon characters is necessary. And that’s the first we see, like, that is the setup. He gets a scotch with stones in it.

Royce: I think, another important distinction, because you can step back and look at things like these in a couple of different ways. You could say well, the writers were creating something that was intended to be consumed in a certain layer by a particular audience, so maybe they made decisions about the characters to coincide with that. But that’s kind of irrelevant, because the world that they created is what it is, regardless of what’s their intent there.

Courtney: Yes.

Royce: So a lot of arguments about Jessica Rabbit is, “Well, this is a metaphor,” and–

Courtney: The toons don’t do metaphors.

Royce: Right, like, as an analysis of the production process, of the writing process, sure. But in the world, this character was acting in this particular way.

Courtney: Yeah, and you know someone working on the movie, Richard Williams, basically said like describing Jessica Rabbit as, “The ultimate male fantasy drawn by a cartoonist.” So we know that visually, that is what they were going for with her. But, they subvert that at every step of the way with the actual dialogue in the plot.

Royce: Right, and I think part of that is that a person fantasizing about someone as a projection onto that person, not how they feel.

Courtney: Exactly! Which is, I mean, also sort of parallels in the fact that a variety of actual actresses and, you know, famous Hollywood women throughout history, sort of came together as a culmination of influence for Jessica Rabbit’s appearance. And, like I’ve heard Marilyn Monroe be thrown out as just like one of the most famous sex symbols in all of history. And it’s like– We have had this conversation already. You can go back and listen to our Seven Year Itch episode if you haven’t yet. But Marilyn Monroe was someone who had sex projected onto her by all of society, but she didn’t get it.

Courtney: If you listen to her, if you see the things she said and written, she was like, “I don’t know why people see me this way.” So that’s, I mean, the perfect parallel in my opinion. But she is, I mean, she’s got a very tiny waist, she’s got hip, she’s got a butt, she’s got large breasts. Which– apparently people working on this film also don’t actually know how breasts work and bra sizes. Because I was trying to find just, like, quotes or interviews about the creation of Jessica Rabbit, and what they were going for with her appearance, and it was, you know, Richard Williams, as I mentioned earlier, who was the animation supervisor and sort of spearheaded the look, but Peter Seaman, who was the screenwriter– This quote, I just had to laugh, because anyone who knows how bra sizes work– And you can listen to our boobs episode for a nice explainer on that. He said, “We didn’t write that she had 48Ds or whatever.”

Royce: Correct. [Courtney burst into laughter] Because that would have been a very large band size.

Courtney: That would have been a very different figure. But yeah, and so they got this animation. They were like, “Wow! Okay, so this is what we’re working with. Got it.” And her dress, I mean, oh, allow me to just comment on the physics of this dress. Because it is strapless, it is backless, you can see, like, a little bit of side boob action if you look at her from the right angle, and I don’t know how she’s doing that, because Misses Kisses bras weren’t invented by then. Clearly, clearly, she is wearing a Misses Kisses. There’s– There’s just no other way. You can’t even, like, get that shape with just, like, body tape or anything, because there’s definitely something like supporting her breasts. So any cosplayers out there thinking of doing this character, that’s– that’s my advice to you.

Royce: But Jessica goes through this performance. The men in the audience are captivated. The detective ends up getting thrown out of the club trying to sneak in and overhear some conversations. And ends up following a man around who we haven’t talked about, who’s mildly important here to the underlying plot, who is the head of the Acme Corporation.

Courtney: And he is not long for this world.

Royce: But he meets up in a room with Jessica. And Eddie finds his way towards the window and is able to get a few pictures that are the evidence he’s looking for. This is Jessica and Marvin Acme playing patty-cake, and this is literally the children’s game patty-cake.

Courtney: Literally. And like he’s a zany guy. He’s got all these like Acme products that are also things humans can buy, that aren’t necessarily like the anvil, but he has like the hand buzzers and little like jokes and gags. Which we’ve already seen before this point, and so she’s even like, “All right, but take that hand buzzer off.” And so so many allos watching this are like, “This is a metaphor for sex. It is supposed to be interpreted as they are literally having sex right now, and the only reason why they don’t actually show it is because it is a cartoon and because they want to keep it PG.” But that is– That is not the right analysis here. Because the human man who has his camera, who is– he goes to the window expecting an affair, because that’s what he’s here to confirm, he looks in the window and he’s like, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” After he just got served a literal scotch on the rocks, and he’s so fed up with toons that take things literally.

Royce: Yeah, his whole personality right now is I drink a lot and I hate fun.

Courtney: Yes! Exactly. So he’s even like, “You’ve got to be kidding me,” and takes pictures of it. And we see these pictures of her literally like patty-cake, patty-cake, baker’s man. So we’ve got to get further into this character, because we have to get to the bottom of this. Because I see the joke that’s being made. I see that it is a tangentially sex related joke, but it’s also an intentional subversion. It’s not supposed to be taken literally by us because the toons are taking things literally.

Royce: Right. And the– the toons have their own lives and their own relationships, and when Roger hears that Jessica is playing Patty Cake with someone, he is distraught.

Courtney: Distraught!

Royce: Oh, before we continue on, I have one other thing to note here. There was a line during Jessica’s performance, Betty Boop is talking to Eddie, and Eddie is just kind of in awe of Jessica Rabbit right now and asks, “She’s married to Roger Rabbit?” And Betty Boop’s response is, “Yeah, lucky girl.” And that’s just kind of showing that the standards or the dynamics of the human world and the toon world are not the same.

Courtney: Right, and that’s part of the shock value when she comes out singing her song. Because he also – someone named Jessica Rabbit, married to a literal rabbit – he assumes that she is also a rabbit. So he’s like, “I’m here to see a rabbit.” And then this beautiful human-like cartoon woman comes out and he’s like, “What?!” And she’s sexy, and he’s clearly sexually attracted to her also. So then you have all the like human allo superficial gears turning where it’s like what is this bombshell like her doing with this goofy dude?

Royce: And she does answer that question later. She says, “He makes me laugh.”

Courtney: Yes!

Royce: And consistently, throughout the show, laughter or comedy is like what the toons hold, like, at the highest.

Courtney: Yes, it’s so sweet. And like, a big question is like, “Oh, is she cheating on him? Is she involved in the scandal? Is she at all involved?” Because the next day after, Roger’s distraught and learns about this, the man who was playing Patty Cake with her ends up murdered. So thus who framed Roger Rabbit? He didn’t do it. So she’s even kind of like a suspicious character for a while, like, are you at all in on this? But she is so loyal, and so faithful, and so loving, and that’s also kind of a subversion of the femme fatale. Because most people think of that character archetype as someone who’s going to use her looks and use her seduction to whatever end she desires. And that is definitively not Jessica Rabbit. We see people giving her attention and she’s never like lapping it up. She’s never like, “Yes, I love this,” or, “I’m using this.” Which is relatable.

Royce: Which I think that’s a good segue into a couple of memorable lines from Jessica Rabbit. One of them I have written down is: “You don’t know how hard it is to be a woman who looks like this.”

Courtney: Mm-mmh. And the detective is like, [mockingly] “Oh well, you don’t know how hard it is to be a guy looking at a woman who looks like you.” Get out of here. I wanted her to slap him so badly. But instead of slapping him she counters with [emphatically] the line, “I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way.” That is The Line. And that is what so many ace people have been talking about for years, saying this is relatable, this is other people imposing sexuality on her despite her not wanting it, her not doing anything to feed into it. And it’s honestly one of the most famous lines in, like, cinema history. I was seeing that it made– It didn’t make the final list of like top 100 quotes, but it did make the list of 400 greatest movie quotes before they narrowed it down to the top 100, by the American Film Institute. Like 100 years, 100 movie quotes. So that one even outside of ace circles, even outside of this ace analysis, that is a big line.

Courtney: And I think it’s so big because it is so subversive. And I think even allosexual people, who still vehemently think that she is just this hypersexual being, still can sense the subversion in it. And I don’t know where the disconnect is. And even though that’s the line, I mean, the scene does continue with more people just like fundamentally misunderstanding her just because of the way she looks. Because then the – I assume – girlfriend of the detective walks in and he has like just come out of the bathroom, so he’s like in his boxer shorts, and she thinks that there’s like an affair going on. And she gets all huffy and walks out. And we clearly saw that nothing happened. She just wants help finding her husband. So that’s the theme, is people misunderstanding her.

Courtney: Which is wild. Because before watching this movie I didn’t know what we were gonna find, if we were gonna find things that confirmed suspicions that she could be ace, or if I was gonna see something where I’m like, “Yeah, that’s a stretch.” So I’ve mostly held out on weighing in on the public discussion about whether or not Jessica Rabbit is asexual. But I see people float it around from time to time. And, regardless of your takeaway, some of the things that allos online will say to attack any ace person who so much as suggests that she might be ace, have clearly been just wild. Even not seeing the movie. So I’ll occasionally be like, “What a weird take.” And not too long ago I literally saw this case: Jessica Rabbit cannot be asexual because she’s married to a rabbit, and you know what they say about rabbits.

Royce: So in this world that is just straight up racial stereotyping…?

Courtney: I suppose! But what a silly take.

Royce: Yeah.

Courtney: Like, you see someone that you’re sexually attracted to, and if you personally are not, you at least see things that large swaths of society would be sexually attracted to. Conventionally attractive, one might say. And like, compulsory sexuality is so deeply ingrained in society that people will fight you on it in order to vehemently impose it on like literal cartoon characters. And if the basis of your argument is, “She’s married to a rabbit,” like– I can’t think of a less sexual character than that rabbit. Like– And there are other sexual cartoons. I mean, let’s put a pin in that for a second and let’s talk about that baby. I’m not a fan of that baby.

Royce: By that baby you mean the baby that we saw in the very opening that was acting alongside Roger Rabbit?

Courtney: Yes.

Royce: The toon’s name is Baby Herman. This is an adult toon that happens to look like a human baby.

Courtney: He’s not a baby, he’s just drawn like that. But yeah, he is like– He is the cigar smoking, drinking, gutter mouth, like, misogynist dude from the 40s who’s got, like – I guess she’s not a secretary, she’s almost like a stand-in nanny – like a woman who’s pushing him around in a stroller and he’s like calling her toots and slapping her ass. Like just horrible, horrible character. And to answer the question, because some people are like, “Well, you know, maybe no toons have literal sex, maybe they just don’t do that and therefore these things that we are seeing, this Patty Cake, is literally what sex is to them.” And it’s like I don’t think so, because this baby, like this detective’s like, “Oh, you’re quite the ladies man, huh?” And he said, “Yeah, the problem is I got a 50-year-old lust and a three-year-old dinky.” Like… Ew! First of all, ew!

Courtney: But now we know that toons do have genitals and at least that baby has a desire to use them. So no, like you can’t even make that argument that Patty Cake is sex to all toons because they don’t have human sex. That’s out the window, we’re throwing that out. But that is an argument I have heard before. And in fact, when I tweeted about this very silly take I saw at one point, that was a question someone had. That was like, “Yeah, do toons in that movie even have sex the way humans do?” And pointing out, as you stated, Royce, that playing Patty Cake with another man, Roger reacted as if he was being cheated on. He was absolutely distraught.

Royce: That interaction is very isolated, though. It’s not like you hear other toons in the show being like, “Oh my god, she played Patty Cake with another man.” It’s something that is very isolated to their relationship.

Courtney: Plus, we’ve also seen Roger Rabbit overreact or do things at inappropriate times for the sole purpose of comedy. At one point, he handcuffs himself to the detective.

Royce: At one point he kisses the detective on the mouth.

Courtney: Yes, well. [laughs] Yes, exactly. He handcuffs himself to the detective and the detective’s like, “I don’t have a key to that handcuff.” First of all, why? Why do you have handcuffs in your apartment that you don’t have keys to? So now they’re stuck together and of course cartoonish shenanigans ensue. Because the big bad guy who’s trying to melt all of the toons and kill them using this special dip concoction he made– which is the only thing that can kill a toon.

Royce: It’s turpentine and some other things.

Courtney: Yeah, it’s like literally just–

Royce: Paint remover.

Courtney: Paint remover. So they’re after him, they’re looking for him, and so now this detective’s handcuffed to this fugitive and trying to hide him and trying to get uncuffed. So they go and he finds a saw to try to start sawing into the handcuff, and the table he’s doing it on is kind of wobbly, so Roger Rabbit just takes his hand out of it and holds it still. Like classic cartoon shenanigan. And he’s like, “Are you telling me you could have gotten out of that at any point?” And Roger was like, “No, not at any point, only when it was funny.”

Courtney: So it could also be interpreted as this wild overreaction being something that he just did because it’s funny. Because that seems to be the only way he operates. When they’re in hiding, this guy comes in with all his, you know, all his weasels – literal weasels – because they’re also, they’re cartoons, and this big vat of dip looking for Roger Rabbit. He’s like, “No toon can resist the old shave and a haircut.” And he goes around just knocking. [rhythmic knocks] And you just see Roger Rabbit just like, [grunting noises] Like he knows he’s very possibly going to die if he comes out and yells “two bits” to finish the gag, but he just can’t help himself because it’s funny.

Royce: And that’s why I wanted to lead into that a little bit earlier in the episode, because there is this compulsion that a lot of toons feel, particularly Roger Rabbit as a performer, but many other toons as well have this behavior that they just can’t help but do, oftentimes for comedy. I went into a bit of a deeper dive into the media here to see if I could find anything else about Jessica Rabbit. I couldn’t really, because there’s not a lot out there. She is sort of a secondary character to Roger and like the detective and some of the other ones. But in addition to the movie– First of all the movie was based off of a book. The book is– takes things in a different direction. It sets up the main characters but has a different interpretation of it. And from what I understand, there was a second book made after the movie that sort of retcons the first book. So I feel like this is a case where the movie outshines the written material as–

Courtney: Oh yeah.

Royce: –what people know and understand. After the movie came out, there were a few different comics. They’re sort of a short, I guess you could say, sequel where the antagonist of the movie returns and you go through another plot arc pretty quickly. And then there are another two sets of comics, one of which is focused purely on Toontown and people going about their business in Toontown, and another one which has a different detective character that comes in. But one of the stories in the comics has the villain trying to upset what’s going in Toontown by degrading the animation quality of everything. Like trying to cut costs and–

Courtney: Oh my god.

Royce: The toons– they’re like, “We don’t have the animation budget for you to do all these over-the-top acting things. You have to tone it down.”

Courtney: Oh no!

Royce: And Roger Rabbit can’t follow direction and tone down his reactions and he gets fired.

Courtney: Hilarious. [laughs] We don’t have the budget. Well, this is who I am. See, that’s very good. But yeah, I mean, the thing is people will be like, “Oh, if she isn’t supposed to be sexual, then why did they draw her that way?” Like if it wasn’t supposed to be obvious that she’s drawn that way but doesn’t feel that way, why did they put that line in there? Uh, come on now, we can play this game both ways.

Courtney: But just as just a broader societal issue– Because I am going to make the assertion that she is an ace icon. I will say it, I will slam the gavel. [gavel strike] Ace icon! Ooh, that’s so fun. Every time, every time. Very fun. But it’s so much less about the actual cartoon character and more just about how real people talk to real asexuals in this conversation. Because there are, despite some bigoted beliefs, there are asexual people that are very conventionally attractive, very much seen and viewed as sexy to broader society. And sometimes you’ll get these, you know, silly hate comments like, “Oh, you’re not asexual, you just can’t get laid. Asexuals are just ugly incels, don’t get no bitches,” or whatever. Whatever they’re saying these days.

Royce: Great impression.

Courtney: [laughs] They got no hoes. Right. But, like we know, that’s not true. We have asexual models. We have Yasmin Benoit, accomplished ace model. I was signed to a modeling agency and as soon as they wanted to put me in lingerie I’m like, “I don’t know if this is for me, actually.” I talked extensively in our boobs episode about what it was like being asexual with large breasts and a tiny waist, and all the issues that go with that. So anybody who is viewed as sexy though, by these people, will just say, like, “Well, you’re not asexual, because I’m sexually attracted to you.” But that’s– that’s– that’s– that’s not how any of this works. That is not how any of this works.

Royce: Yeah, there’s a long allo history of straight women having to get over being attracted to gay men.

Courtney: I didn’t expect you to take that in that direction, but yes! I will take it. But yeah, if you’re sexually attracted to someone and the feelings are not reciprocated, that’s very much a ‘you’ problem. That– every situation that that happens, that is a ‘you’ problem. That is not a ‘them’ problem. Go figure out how to unlearn and unpack that there, bucko. So I just– Because– Let’s– let’s try to play devil’s advocate for a moment, because I genuinely– when I got this comment, I did not know where this person was coming from at all. And there was no explanation. So let’s, let’s try to see where they might have been coming from, if indeed we can.

Courtney: On Twitter, I got the comment: “No–” and this was in response to me saying that it’s a very silly take to say that she can’t be asexual because she’s married to a rabbit. That was, that was the tweet, and someone just said, “No. Describing her as asexual is to entirely miss the point of her character.” What is the point of her character from this person’s point of view? To appeal to your male gaze? That’s all I– That’s all I got. That’s–

Royce: I mean that that was literally the reason she was drawn the way she was.

Courtney: But she’s just drawn like that.

Royce: Yeah.

Courtney: They told– They told us that. That’s not even subtext. Because, yeah, even– even as the stand in for a femme fatale, she’s not using her looks to get her way. She is not cheating on her husband. The entire time that Roger Rabbit is out missing somewhere – really, he’s with the detective, but no one else knows that – she’s looking for him because she’s worried about his safety. So what– Where– Where is the– Where’s the promiscuity in that? Where is the cheating, the lies, the deception in that?

Royce: It’s– it’s not there. And throughout the other forms of media that I looked through, that’s pretty much how her character comes in, is usually in the– oftentimes in the beginning or the end of a plot arc to help set up or resolve something. And she’s usually present to give sort of a calm, collected middle opinion or perspective between Roger and the detective.

Courtney: Yeah, because she’s a little more grounded than a lot of the other toons are, especially Roger, who’s like way off the charts for zaniness, but she’s still got some cartoon-like behaviors.

Royce: Oh yeah, she definitely has hammer space abilities, as they’re called.

Courtney: Oh, my gosh, we’ve got to talk about the hammer space. So that– that phrase, for anyone unfamiliar, is like think of any old school cartoon where someone just pulls out like a giant hammer out of a pocket, or just like out of nowhere that couldn’t possibly fit there. So that– that’s that trope. I thought Jessica Rabbit’s version of that was hilarious because they ultimately– Well, and first of all, the way she saves Roger when she finally finds him, knowing that she can’t contain him because he’s constantly self-sabotaging, he’s constantly putting himself in danger for the sake of comedy–

Royce: She pulls a frying pan out of a tiny pouch, hits him over the head and throws him in a trunk.

Courtney: Yes! [laughs] She’s like, “Well, I hit him with a frying pan and put him in this– in the trunk to protect him.” [laughs] Hilarious, that is such a cartoon, ridiculous thing to do, but it was for a very grounded, rational reason. So she– she’s really funny in a subtle way. But you know, near the climax of the movie she is kidnapped with the detective. This big bad guy is threatening to, you know, not only dip them, but destroy all of Toontown. You know classic, classic evil guy shenanigans.

Courtney: And one of these like weasel henchmen cartoons comes and, like, reaches down the front of her dress, down into like her cleavage, and he just, like, yelps in pain and pulls his hand out and there is a freaking bear trap clamped on his hand. And the detective turns to her and is like, “Nice booby trap.” Oh, my god, it’s so good! It is so good. That was hilarious. And the fact that all of the boob jokes were not sexual boob jokes either, like their booby traps was funny. At one point the detective, like, bends down to pick something up and on his way up he, like, hits his head on the bottom of her boobs as if it were like a shelf, like that old trope.

Royce: Yeah, I think the actor that played the detective is like 5’ 4”, 5′ 5”.

Courtney: Oh really? And so that– that’s really funny. That is– I don’t think – aside from everyone’s initial impressions of her, what they are projecting onto her – everything we see from her, everything we see, the way she is used, the thing she does, the thing she says, even the comedy that comes from her boobs, is all very asexual comedy. Because, honestly, hitting your head on someone’s boobs like a shelf standing up, that’s hilarious. But yeah. And you know [sighs] everyone argues the Patty Cake line, because aces will say it’s literally Patty Cake and allos will say that is a direct metaphor for sex. However, Royce, you did some further digging and you actually looked at some of the comics that came out after the movie. You looked at some of the, like, animated shorts that would roll, like, pre-movie in theaters.

Royce: Yeah, in addition to the comics that were put out, there were three animated shorts. You can find them on YouTube. But they were the sorts of things that would roll in theaters before some other movie. And they were all, you know, 10 minutes long or so. And each of them was an acting scene. It was, like, kind of like the opening of this movie. It was where all of the cartoons were acting in some sort of movie in their world, and then at the end they would– they would cut or they would end scene and you would see, you know, them blending into the human world afterwards, to leave work and go home, or something like that. And the one in particular that I think you’re bringing up now is called Tummy Trouble. I think it was the first one that was put out, and at the end of this, as Roger’s walking off the set, Jessica was back there waiting for them.

Courtney: Yeah, this– This puts more perspective as to what Patty Cake actually means. Because, as they’re walking off set, Jessica Rabbit’s like, “Oh, let’s go home and play.” And he’s like, “Oh, what are we gonna play? Tiddlywinks, Canasta, Parcheesi?” And she’s like, “How about Patty Cake?” And it’s like they’re– they’re just listing off games. They– they are literally meaning let’s play a game. It’s great, I love it.

Royce: Yeah, that does just give a bit more information about the– the nature of their relationship. And the Patty Cake thing is brought up a few more times in the comics too, just in a very similar way as to the movies, just be– as an ongoing gag pretty much. But that was the main one that stood out because it put it in relation to other activities.

Courtney: First of all, Canasta is just a hilarious one to throw in there. That reminds me I haven’t played parcheesi in years.

Royce: I don’t know if I know how to play either of those games.

Courtney: You don’t know how to play parcheesi? I think we have a parcheesi board.

Royce: I think maybe you showed me once, and-

Courtney: Well, let’s play parcheesi tonight. Listen, folks, we are an ace couple who love to play games. Video games, board games, tabletop role playing games, ace games, recognized ace games. And I do mean games literally! I have been told on occasion that I take things too literally, so I– I do identify as a– as an accidentally sexy cartoon. As they say, just drawn that way. But they really do have just a very sweet relationship. Like as silly as Roger is, when they’re together and the way they talk to each other, it’s precious.

Royce: Yeah, there was something that I started to notice more frequently when I was going through some of the comics. It may have happened in the movie too, and maybe I just didn’t see it for all the plot and other things going on, but when they were around each other, Roger had a lot of lines that reminded me a lot of Gomez and Morticia Adams.

Courtney: Interesting. Very different characters.

Royce: Very different characters, but Jessica Rabbit and Morticia Adams have a similar figure and similar status. And Gomez and Roger are both sort of shorter and are both seen as being what society would perceive as less attractive. So that dynamic is the same. [Courtney agrees] But every time they would be separated for some reason, like Roger had stuff to do and Jessica needed to go to work or something like that, he would say some four or five line exaggerated thing like, “I’ll pine for your return, heart of my heart, light of my life,” that sort of thing.

Courtney: Adorable. And that’s so interesting too, because Morticia Adams is obviously also seen as a sex symbol. But she does kind of own the sex symbol part, like a lot of her media actually is overtly sexual. But Gomez and Morticia have still kind of always been a subversion of the family sitcom because they’re a husband and a wife who adore each other, and they have kids, and they are a loving family. And that was certainly not very common at the time but it’s still not very common to have very loving families.

Courtney: But the Adams family is sort of a different type of humor because they aren’t going for laugh out loud funny, and some of it’s a lot more drier, a little morbid. But it’s still a husband and wife relationship where the comedy does not come from them being at each other’s throats and hating each other, which I think at this point is a very lazy way to go about writing. If you have a couple who hates each other and being mean to each other is the joke, I guess. I’ve never found it all that funny. But you know, Jessica and Roger are kind of the same way. The joke isn’t on them being a couple or them being a dysfunctional couple.

Courtney: The joke is on everyone else who judges them based on what they see right off the bat. Which is exactly the way we’ve always said that ace humor should be done when it comes to any sort of sex jokes, where the joke shouldn’t be on ‘look at the person who’s not having sex or isn’t interested in sex’, the joke should be on everyone else who’s seeing sex everywhere where it is not.

Courtney: And we talked about how Bojack Horseman did that pretty successfully around Todd, where he was – during his asexual journey – like the most healthy person going through the clearest path to character development and personal growth, where everyone around him is just making horrible decisions in their sex lives. So, yeah, I suppose the romantic comedy can kind of parallel the sexual comedy in that sense, where joke’s on the other guys. So since we sort of started, or Royce, since you started giving a plot overview – in case there’s anyone out there who, like us, before last night had never seen it – go ahead and round out how the story ends for us, and then I’m going to hit you with the best ending line of Jessica Rabbits, which I think further confirms ace icon.

Royce: Okay, so you mentioned that they had been captured by the big bad who was trying to destroy all of the toons, basically including them and the detective.

Courtney: Which also didn’t you say that he’s supposed to be like every cartoon villain ever?

Royce: Yes, so the movie itself did not go into this fully, but the bad guy who is known as Judge Doom is a toon inside of a rubber human body mask kind of thing. He’s revealed that he’s a toon at the end, but no more information is given. A comic was put out that is sort of a sequel, where this toon is reprinted and comes back to life with all of his memories intact and tries to destroy Roger Rabbit and the detective again. And through that we see his backstory. His name is Baron von Rotten first of all.

Courtney: Wonderful name.

Royce: And he dates back to the early 20s and the silent cartoon era, and got really good at changing his appearance. And is basically every old style cartoon villain ever.

Courtney: So he’s like the black and white evil dude with a big mustache who ties up a damsel on the railroad tracks.

Royce: That was one of the examples. [Courtney laughs] It says that during Disney’s political cartoon era he was also casted to play Nazis.

Courtney: Oh no, not the cartoon Nazis. Anything but that.

Royce: Yes, he is thwarted. He is melted Wizard of Oz style. And that’s basically the end of the movie.

Courtney: Do you know what that character villain kind of reminds me of? H.H. Holmes [laughs] Aka Jack the Ripper, aka every serial killer in all of history.

Royce: Okay, so. [Courtney laughs] Context. Many, many years ago, we watched some kind of weird little–

Courtney: Trashy docu series.

Royce: Trashy “docu” series. The docu part is in quotes. Remember everyone, documentary is a film style. It says nothing about the authenticity or truth of the material.

Courtney: Truth.

Royce: Basically, this person was a descendant of H.H. Holmes and was convinced that his ancestor was responsible for so many things that I would joke, I’d be like on my way home, like, [Courtney laughs] “Courtney, are you ready to watch another episode of my great-great-grandfather is every serial killer ever?”

Courtney: And every time we talked about this in the house, it had a different title and got progressively more over the top. I think it was actually called like American Ripper, like that’s what it was, and it was this descendant of H.H. Holmes who was investigating H.H. Holmes. But then it started getting to the fact where they were like what if H.H. Holmes wasn’t actually executed? What if the grave is empty and he actually got away? What if he then went to England and became Jack the Ripper? [laughs] And they were like looking up all these aliases that he might have known and trying to find like boat records to see if any of his aliases were used to get to London. And so we were like, we were playing, we were playing that we were so invested in this and believing every moment of it. And we were like, I’ll be damned, H.H. Holmes is Jack the Ripper.

Royce: And it went– did all the murders in Chicago, right?

Courtney: Yeah.

Royce: Then went to England, then came back to America, and then fled from death and was responsible for more murders across the country.

Courtney: And, yeah, we started getting, like, so into it. We were like, I’ll be damned, the guy was Lizzie Borden too. [bursts out laughing]

Royce: That was an example of what turned– started as a curiosity watch very quickly turned into a comedy watch.

Courtney: [laughing] Yes. So yeah, it was, my ancestor was every serial killer ever. [laughs] So now we know it was all Baron von Rotten the whole time! It’s worth noting too, talking about the climax of the movie and how they actually got out of this and succeeded and saved the day, was also because of a very literal saying. So the scotch on the rocks, the Patty Cake, like those weren’t just early examples that got dropped. This is a through line of the movie because, as you said earlier, this is, you know, a hardened cop who was turned to drink. Like he hated fun, he hated cartoons, he had a grudge against all toons because a toon killed his brother. But he ends up saving Jessica and Roger, who are tied up on a big death machine controlled by all these cartoon weasels, by literally doing a song and a dance and knocking them dead. And that’s what they said like, “Oh, you’re killing them. You’re slaying them. You’re knocking them dead!” And they literally laugh themselves to death.

Royce: Yeah, cartoon ghosts were rising out of their bodies.

Courtney: Yes, so that is literally how they won the day. So we open the concept of cartoons with the literal scotch on the rocks. We see the main conflict begin with the Patty Cake being literal Patty Cake. And this is the resolution, is literally knocking the bad guys dead. So it wasn’t just a one off gag. This is, dare I say, [emphatically] the point. That’s a major theme. But listen, real talk here, if you still do not believe me that Jessica Rabbit is asexual– In fact I’m going to say as much that Roger Rabbit also is, I’m going to say they are also an asexual couple. I see it in them, I really do. And the final nail in the coffin, if you will, after everything said and done, happy ending, Toontown isn’t in trouble anymore, etc. etc. Jessica Rabbit grabs Roger’s hand and they start walking home and she says, “Come on, let’s go home. I’ll bake you a carrot cake.” That is the last thing she says.

Courtney: After a long day, after they were afraid for their lives, going to get murdered, going to lose their town, they just want to go home and eat some cake. And this all started with Patty Cake. I see it! Someone get me the red push pins and a cork board. See, now that’s where my mind’s going, now that we’re trying to figure out every serial killer ever, now I’m like every ace nugget– It’s all connected. So, before this goes too off the rails, I am saying once and for all: Jessica Rabbit is in fact an asexual icon, and I rest my case. [Gavel strike]