I watched re-runs of Scooby-Doo in the 1980s. Who hasn't seen that show? I mean, if you were a kid in the 1970s or later, you are familiar with that show. Now my children watch the program, and sometimes I watch with them. This week, for example, we watched Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated Season 1, Episode 4, “Revenge of the Man Crab” (first aired August 9, 2010).
WTF, people. Scooby-Doo is no longer just a mystery show where villains would have gotten away with it if not for those meddling kids. It is now also an instructional program for heteronormativity. Boys and girls can learn from Scooby-Doo that girls only care about boys and romance, and boys don’t care about romance because they have their minds on other things, like solving mysteries.
Remember how, in the original show, it was usually Velma who figured stuff out and solved mysteries despite Shaggy and Scooby being obsessed with Scooby snacks? Well, now, instead, Velma is obsessed with Shaggy. In "Man Crab," Velma can’t seem to think or talk about anything but Shaggy. She sulks when he doesn’t respond to her advances. She looks different than the old Velma, too: her breasts are bigger, or maybe her sweater is just tighter. She also has a bow in her short hair – in case you weren’t sure if she was a girl or not. (I know these pictures don't look THAT different, but in the program you'd notice a change.)
Daphne’s main concern in "Man Crab" is whether or not Fred capital-L Likes her. When girls in bikinis play volleyball, the show calls our attention to the sexual side of things: Daphne thinks Fred is ogling the girls, so she puts on her own bikini to get his attention. She then, of course, has to spend a good chunk of the episode in the bikini. She’s wearing it when the Man Crab captures her and puts her in a hanging cage. (The Man Crab is only interested in females, by the way. After all, it's a man. Um ... and a crab.)
Thanks, Scooby-Doo, for going BACKWARD as far as sexism is concerned. If you’d just stayed the same, I could still plan to name my imaginary girl band The Velmas. But now I don’t want to any more. The Man Crab episode has made me crabby. (But at least it didn't give me crabs.) Scooby-Doo plots have always been repetitive, but now we also have dull, repetitive fake intrigue about ... romantic relationships? Really?
Luckily, Scooby fans still have their imaginations. When TV feeds us sexism and gender norms, we don’t swallow them whole. If you Google around you can find multiple interpretations of the Scooby gang, including a lesbian Velma and a gay Fred and, I’m sure, additional romantic combinations and crossovers, like Fred and George Weasley hitting on Daphne. So I will not despair: no matter how much heteronormative bullshit TV throws at us, at any age, we still remain our own whatevernormative selves and form our own diverse Scooby gangs of friendship and romance.