Just in case your wifi has been down for the last few weeks (I know that’s scary even to type) The Babadook is now the biggest LGBT icon since Dorothy dropped a house on a witch just to steal her shoes. Don’t believe me? Well check out tumblr – we aren’t even friends of Dorothy anymore! #girlbye
The Screaming Queenz blinked and missed the origins of this one and we were all left wondering what the baba-fuck? How did we miss the queerness of a film we have all praised? Silly me thought it was discussion on mental health, postnatal depression, grief and suppression of feelings all cleverly hidden behind a classic boogeyman story. Alas I was wrong, it was just a story about a monster coming out as gay, well it is 2017 now so I suppose #LoveWins.
It took a few days of bewilderment before I found out why the Babadook was now gay but it’s filled me with great joy that it was all down to simple mistagging of genre on Netflix that we homosexuals were not going to let die for at least the rest of Pride season.
It’s genuinely amazes me how quick people grabbed this idea and ran with it. They took one of the scariest films of recent years and made it into to a camp classic in a few days with nothing but a few feather boas, gay flags, an abundance of RuPaul’s Drag Race Memes… oh and a douche…
But now the glitter has settled I’m left with a few questions:
Q1. Does the Babadook actually have any right to be a gay icon?
So to be a gay icon you should have talent, a signature look, a general camp fun attitude and fight for the rights of LGBT people.
When it comes to talent I’d say he would need to be in a lot more than one film. Madonna for example has done 23, though thinking about it they have all been rather critically lame when compared to Babadook’s 98% on rotten tomatoes critical acclaim, so 1 point to Babadook.
So talent he has in Ba-Babundance but what about a look?
Well I don’t mean to be shady because the Babadooks early 2000s smoky eye is shady enough, but Detox did the whole Black and white make up look first at the season 5 Drag Race reunion. You can’t argue that his look is instantly iconic though… he even got his face on the cover of Gay Times!
Ok then what about his camp queer attitude. I’m drawing the line here. There is no way his behaviour can be considered CAMP. He made a Mum kill her dog and didn’t even fix her dodgy hair for her. Oh wait… a quick flick through tumblr and twitter has proved me wrong.
“He doesn’t do anything actually positive for gay community?” I exclaim.
“Neither does Caitlin Jenner or any of the Kardashians” I hear you reply.
“Exactly, that’s why they’re not gay icons” I rebuke.
So that’s it – he fell at the last hurdle. Nice try Baba. Oh wait…
Q2. Is it possible to actually take a queer reading from the Babadook film?
In case you don’t know, a queer reading is when you look at a film, book, TV series or any form of art really and draw from it an LGBT subtext. It doesn’t have to be overly fact based – it’s more about a queer interpretation of the subject than “this is 100% what this artist meant to say”. Sometimes the queer subtext is on purpose but often it’s by accident or completely fan made. So can you Queer Read the Babadook?
As I stated before the film deals a lot with motherhood and mental health issues which I praised the film for when it came out. That doesn’t mean there isn’t also a gay reading there too.
I theorise that the son in the Babadook might be a homosexual character. The mother tries to deny that her son is different to her sister and the school. She repeatedly asks him why he can’t just be normal. This coupled with the lacking of a male role model and his only friend being his mother suggests a potential queerness.
Perhaps then the Babadook is the manifestation of the child trying to suppress his homosexuality for his mother. He’s so scared of being his true self he literally creates a “closet monster” that, if it gets out, will hurt his family.
The mother is traumatised by the events but with love of her son being stronger than anything she learns to slowly accept him. The Babadook is released from the closet but at least for now is kept deep down in the basement unbeknownst to anyone but the mother and son. Though they now willingly visit the subject together when the time is right.
Am I reaching…. of course I fucking am but I’m 5ft 2 I reach for everything! It’s still probably better argued than most queer readings.
Q3. Is the Babadook the first LGBT horror Icon?
Short answer NO!!!
This has been my only problem with the Babadook phenomenon. He is not the first and he’s won’t be the last Gay Horror Icon so why is everyone acting like he is?
The 2nd nightmare on elm street showed us Freddy obviously swings both ways as he seduces the male protagonist Jesse and tries to “get inside of his body”.
Jeepers Creepers’ villain is also not very shy about his need to hunt down a bus of semi naked jocks (and neither am I).
Then we have Elvira who’s camp as tits – literally. We have transgender characters in Seed of Chucky and Sleepaway Camp, which also incidentally has gay daddies and jocks in crop tops.
There is queerness in Bride of Frankenstein, Daughters of Darkness, every Giallo film ever and the screaming Queenz personally recommend Cursed (2004) 😂
There is also that one girl Gremlin who even had a Rupaul review before the Babadook…
Q4. is the babadook here to SLAY?
So my final question is about how long this will all last. I can say after writing this I’m over it. Officially. The internet and gays are fickle – I give this til the end of pride season to be overused and discarded with a brief revival due in every gay club on the 31st October.
However the film itself is here to stay. It came out in 2014 to much praise from critics and the public. This new exposure will do nothing but further promote the film and it will deservedly grow as a fantastic example of a horror film with a deeper meaning than most.
So I say embrace the lunacy and watch a great scary film. Be prepared to be BABASHOOK!!!!
Hear our podcast on the Babadook here: