Donald Calls Daffy the N-Word
Written by Cary Nelson

In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, when Eddie Valiant enters The Ink and Paint Club, a fierce dual piano performance is underway on the main stage between Donald and Daffy Duck. Competitive tensions are high between them (ie: Who's the better duck?).

Daffy: "I've worked with a lot of wise-quackers in my day but you are despicable!"

We cut back to a close up of Eddie and we hear Donald's rebuttal...

Listen to Audio:

© Amblin Entertainment and Buena Vista Pictures

What did he just say?!

What do you hear? Listen a few more times and try to figure it out.

A lot of people have heard something along the lines of:

"God darn stupid n***er...QUACK-QUACK-QUACK-SPUTTER-QUACK!!!!"

The reasoning behind hearing this phrasing is that obviously Daffy has black feathers and Donald has white. The colors of the characters were obviously noticed during production to have put the white duck playing a black piano and the black duck playing the white piano. Let's also not forget that the story itself originally was about segregation (so race relations were probably on the mind to some degree while making the film). So it's not completely out of the question that the filmmakers might have hidden a joke where Donald is a racist. Especially in a film that has adult humor spread through out it!

It definitely doesn't help matters that there's been some people who allege that Robert Zemeckis (the film's director) is racist towards black people through out his work (but we're not going to go into that topic any further here).

What's Going On Here?

When you think about it, every word that Donald says is up in the air. People usually hear variations on all the words, doggone, god damn, god darn, stubborn, and so on. Not just the section that's said to be the slur, which some hear as "nitwit."

So What's Donald Supposed to be Saying?

From as far as I can tell, the original screenplay mentions no dialogue between the two characters (so could all of the dialogue here have been improvised in the recording booth?) and the DVD commentary during this scene makes no reference to what is being said.

But the DVD captions, however, shine some light on what he's probably meant to be saying!

The official captions go...

"Doggone stubborn little-- That did it! Qu-a-a-a-ck!"

Especially when watching the scene with the timing of the captions, it just clicks. Listen again with this wording in mind...

Listen to Audio:

© Amblin Entertainment and Buena Vista Pictures

So could mishearing the slur come from poor audio mixing of different takes? It seems very probable.

You're welcome, of course, to think that the captions are just Buena Vista Entertainment (Disney) cleverly phrasing it to hide the truth. With that mindset, you might as well take Daffy's "wise-quacker" remark as a play on the term "cracker" to describe a white person and not as a "wise-cracker" for someone who "cracks" a sarcastic joke. Which could bring up a whole other topic completly. One that I'm pretty sure no one mentions.

So is Donald calling Daffy a n***er? Most likely not. I think it can all be summed up nicely with what Daffy had said moments before...

"Does anybody understand what this duck is saying?"
Article: Copyright © 2017

They used real rouge make up on Snow White's cheeks when painting the animation cels to give her a more "natural" and "glowing" look.

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