Velma From Scooby-Doo A LESBIAN?????!!!???!!!????
So, Velma from "Scooby-Doo" is gay. That's neither major news nor a big surprise to anyone who spent their childhood afternoons watching the classic cartoon, but rightwingers have predictably freaked out. Is nothing sacred, not even the madcap adventures of a talking dog and his stoner friend?
Jinkies, Velma from Scooby-Doo is officially a lesbian.
A clip from a new movie titled Trick or Treat Scooby-Doo! appears to show Velma fawning over a costume designer named Coco Diablo.
You hear that? It's official. The Trick or Treat Scooby-Doo film probably includes Velma's lesbian christening ceremony.
Predictably, the Examiner doesn't consider the possibility that Velma's bisexual. Her lack of interest in Shaggy and Fred is hardly conclusive. Past live-action adaptations tried to overtly state Velma’s sexuality, and they might’ve gotten away with it if not for those meddling studio executives.
On Fox News's "The Faulkner Focus," the chyron read "Scooby Doo Goes Woke When Velma Comes Out As Gay." Now, even the existence of queer people is "woke." We don't know Velma's politics — although we can guess because she actually solves the mysteries and doesn't just blame illegal immigrants.
Rightwing commentator Steven Crowder complained that including LGBTQ characters forces parents to answer complex girl-on-girl sex questions that they wouldn't otherwise because heterosexual couples are "the norm." He's obviously no expert in early childhood development because that's not how any of this works. Kids will drive you crazy asking questions about how sofas work, and there's at least one in every American household.
\u201cSteven Crowder complains about Velma from Scooby-Doo: "If we're going to bitch about appropriation, why do you need to take a straight character and make her lesbian? Just go make your own"\u201d— Jason Campbell (@Jason Campbell) 1664984898
Using wacky conservative math, Crowder insisted that LGBTQ characters are already overrepresented in media. Movies and TV also feature far more size 0 women than exist in reality, and I don't see Crowder protesting.
CROWDER: If we're going to bitch about appropriation, why do you need to take a straight character and make her lesbian? Just go make your own.
Wait ... hold up ... Crowder thinks Velma was the all-American teenage heterosexual girl, all horny for guys in ascots? Just give me a minute, OK.
Crowder credits himself as a comedian but this is the first time he's made me laugh.
Let's discuss the not-so-secret origin of Velma Dinkley. Back in the 1960s, Fred Silverman, CBS's head of daytime programming, wanted
to rip off duplicate the success of "The Archie Show," a cartoon version of the popular comic books where Archie, Jughead, Betty, Veronica, and Reggie are members of a bubblegum pop band egotistically known as "The Archies." Silverman's pitch was a teenage rock band that solved mysteries. It's unclear if Silverman just added "solved mysteries" to TV show ideas he wanted to steal.
The first pass was based more closely on the Archie characters, but when Silverman rejected it, the animators came back with a more direct "homage" to "The Many Loves Of Dobie Gillis," which itself was somewhat Archie-inspired. Fred is obviously Dobie (Dwayne Hickman). Daphne is money-hungry Thalia Menninger (Tuesday Weld). Lazy Shaggy is lazy Maynard G. Krebs (Bob Denver), complete with beatnik goatee. Velma is Zelda Gilroy (Sheila James). The talking dog was their own thing.
Zelda was smart and athletic but also inexplicably in love with Dobie. Velma was the brains of the Scooby Gang but never expressed any interest in Dobie-analogue Fred. That element of Zelda's character was lost in translation.
Sheila James was the stage name for Sheila Kuehl, who’s currently a member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors for the 3rd District. She'd previously served in the California state Senate and the California state Assembly, where she was the first woman speaker pro tem. More relevantly, she was California's first openly gay state legislator.
Obviously, Kuehl's own sexuality doesn't mean the character she played 60 years ago was gay. However, Hollywood cast her in "tomboy" roles because of how she presented. The network geniuses even rejected a Zelda spin-off because Kuehl was considered "too butch." There have always been queer-coded characters on TV and film. They just weren't allowed to exist openly as themselves. This is arguably why people — especially queer audiences — have read Velma as gay. The coding was hardly subtle.
Queer coding is less necessary now because LGBTQ characters don't have to hide. Crowder and other fussy conservatives can't push Velma back into the celluloid closet. Those days are gone.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."