The New Scooby Doo Straight-To-DVD Movie “Curses” Daphne To Be A Size 8
All the scary portrait side-eye in the world, Warner Bros.
Zoinks. For a franchise obsessed with scarfing Dagwood Sandwiches, you’d think the new Scooby Doo movie might have more realistic portrayals of the female body than oh, you, know, Marvel. Scoob’s straight-to-DVD Frankencreepy was released yesterday, and damn… crime-solving women are hard to animate, I guess?
In Frankencreepy, the gang visits a haunted estate after Velma inherits her “great-great-uncle Dr. Von Dinkenstein’s cursed castle in the terrifying town of Transylvania… Pennsylvania.” The Mystery Crew are each cursed with losing “the thing they hold most dear,” causing Daphne to, in her own words, “lose her looks” by growing from a “size 2… to a size 8!” Here’s a clip of Daphne dealing with her weight gain:
I grew up watching Scooby Doo, never questioning Velma’s role as the “smart girl” or Daphne as “the pretty one,” because of course those qualities are mutually exclusive. I don’t necessarily agree that Daphne’s pride in her looks should even be condemned as superficial (her physical attributes are, historically, important to the show’s creative team as well) but it’s bonkers to me that in 2014, presumably self-aware animators equated “losing her looks” with being a size 8. The Good Men Project makes the point that if Warner Bros. had really intended to critique Daphne’s emphasis on physical appearance, she should have lost those big cartoon eyes and perfectly-coiffed hair, too:
Why not have her cursed to look like one of the classic Scooby monsters (The Creeper or the Space Kook)? Why not cover her in hair and fangs and turn her into a wolf-girl? Why not give her a third eye, green skin, a tail… why not really make her terrible to look at? (In the most kid-friendly way possible, of course.)
Rather than morphing Daphne into a literal monster, Frankencreepy instead implies that realistic women are monsters. Judging from that clip it also seems like the animators have no clue what a size 8 actually looks like, which just undermines the statement Warner Bros. made about the issue to The Huffington Post:
All of our content is run through Standards and Practices, and there is always sensitivity to obesity and self image, especially when it comes to programming made for children and a family audience.
Although you are correct that Daphne becomes bigger in the course of the story, the message is actually a much more positive one.
The plot of the movie involves the Scooby gang becoming cursed and losing what means the most to each of them. Fred loses the Mystery Machine, Shaggy and Scooby lose their appetites, etc. Daphne loses her good looks (mainly her figure and her hair).
Even if Frankencreepy‘s message was meant to be positive, all that above scene does is reveal the filmmaker’s biases. Sure, it might seem petty to quibble over nuances in a well-intentioned kids cartoon, but “the curse of the size 8” is just one example of toxic and insidious policing of women’s bodies and self-image. Fat-shaming in a straight to DVD Scooby Doo movie is harmful in the context of an industry that creates female superheroes then draws them for the male gaze, or places all emphasis on a character’s looks then scolds her for vanity. Daphne can’t win in that industry. Neither can I, or any woman I know. Ruh roh.