When the gay Babadook became an LGBT symbol
Move over, alt-right Pepe the Frog. The LGBT community now has its net avatar and it’s the gay Babadook!
However, while the alt-right movement had intentionally “appropriated” Matt Furie’s creation to the cartoonist’s sorrow, gay Babadook’s rise as LGBT icon was more of an in-joke thing.
Gay Babadook as accidental LGBT symbol
For those who don’t know, the top-hatted monster was originally from the Australian horror film The Babadook by Jennifer Kent, which came out in 2014.
In the movie, the Babadook was a storybook monster that haunted a widow and her child, and supposedly represents grief and dealing with depression.
However, the Babadook’s progression as a gay icon only started last October when an ironic post in Tumblr went viral.
The post by “ianstagram” from Boston stated that: “Whenever someone says the Babadook isn’t openly gay it’s like?? Did you even watch the movie???”
“Ianstagram” later told NY Mag: “It just popped into my head, and I just fired it out and kind of didn’t assume it would get more than ten notes.”
A doctored image then came out in December, a screenshot showing the movie The Babadook listed in the category of “LGBT Movies” that later spread the meme further.
By June of this year, the LGBT community was more than willing to adopt the Babadook such that gay variants of the storybook monster (top hat, suspenders, and rainbows) appeared at recent Pride marches.
As Aaron Griffin, a friend of “Ianstagram,” told NY Mag: “The assumption is always that a character is straight, unless proven otherwise. Why can’t we assume a character is gay without needing evidence for it?”
“I think the post started as a joke, but the more people tried to ridicule it, it made the point stronger almost,” Griffin added.
Gay Babadook vs. Alt-right Pepe the Frog
On our end, it’s interesting to think about the adoption of the Babadook vis-a-vis the alt-right community’s appropriation of cartoonist Matt Furie’s Pepe the Frog.
Originally, Pepe the Frog from Furie’s comic strip Boy’s Club on MySpace had become a popular meme in the 4chan forums.
But white nationalists started creating memes of the cartoon with swastikas and a Trump button– to the point of exclusivity as nobody now wanted to use Pepe the Frog memes and risk being mistaken for being alt-right as well.
Though Furie tried to recover his creation from being turned into an alt-right icon, he eventually had to cut his losses and “bury” Pepe the Frog via a cartoon wake.
The alt-right community immediately had a response to that with an undead Pepe, flashing eyes and all from the coffin.
Meanwhile, Kent, director of The Babadook, has had no comment on gay Babadook– but it should be noted that her next film is a story about a lesbian relationship in 19th-century Memphis.
Moreover, Tim Purcell, the actor who played the monster in the movie, said: “I didn’t feel like a gay icon at the time, I can tell you that much.”
Ultimately, the main difference in the new roles of both characters is that whereas Pepe the Frog was intentionally shoehorned into it, the Babadook’s rise as an LGBT symbol was propelled by the meta-awareness of Internet memes.
What makes this appropriately inclusive is that the LGBT community has been accepting the character as one of their own with Masachussetts Attorney-General Maura Healey tweeting: “We believe in equal rights for everyone– and we mean everyone. Happy #Pride2017 #Babadook”
Personally, we’re just glad that the LGBT internet avatar is now a kickass one like the Babadook.