The 13th Floor

How THE BABADOOK Became a Gay Icon — Practically Overnight!

Jennifer Kent’s 2014 film THE BABADOOK is one of the best in modern horror. It’s an achingly sad tale of a single mother’s struggle to cope with the loss of a partner, the erratic tantrums of her now fatherless child, and subsequent damages to her psyche — all of which manifest in the towering boogeyman we now know as The Babadook. The menacing creature is always on her tail, a sinister embodiment of her own anxieties and a renowned emblem of gay pride.

What, did you miss that last part? So did I, and basically the rest of the world, until just a few weeks ago.

Seemingly overnight — and with a whole lot of tweeting the wholesome meme into existence — The Babadook became the iconic gay figure the world didn’t know it needed… and just in time for Pride 2017!

According to Buzzfeed, it all started last summer with a slightly confusing (and maybe accidental?) Netflix categorization that listed THE BABADOOK as an LGBT film. One Internet user found it odd enough to screenshot and post to Tumblr — and that’s usually all it takes. Other users instantly agreed, echoing “Yes, the Babadook is and always has been the most important gay figure of this decade, pass it on”… and they did.

The message resurfaced on Twitter sometime within the past few weeks, with users left and right adding their support and gratitude for the character’s heroism and LGBT representation. They adorned his likeness with rainbow flags, happily adopting him as the new spokesman (spokes-boogeyman?) for the community.

The genuine excitement behind the Babadook’s emergence as a gay celebrity was quite heartwarming — beautiful things happen when the internet unites its passions — and it came during a dispiriting news week. Seriously, everyone was talking about it:

If you find yourself personally interested in The Babadook now, knowing his sexual orientation, I’m afraid you’re already too late — word is that he’s in a happy, healthy relationship with the Bye Bye Man. Honestly, I’m down.

So, how did this register with people the way that it did?

It has to come down to the complete juxtaposition: There’s the Babadook’s maniacal stare and monochrome existence against the vibrant, cheerful iconography of gay pride; there’s also the complete lack of any sexual material through the entirety of THE BABADOOK (aside from a depressing interrupted masturbation scene) next to the sudden, and eager, declaration of the storybook character’s sexual interests. Whatever it is, it was probably the best part of my week.

A toast to the Babadook: He’s here, he’s queer… and we couldn’t be more proud of how far he’s come.

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