Why Are We All So Thirsty For Velma?
On today's installment of time continually proving itself to be a flat loop, the internet has once again found itself revisiting the strange allure of an unlikely sex symbol, a figure who has captured the hearts, imaginations, and uh … nevermind, of pop culture fans around the globe – Velma Dinkley from Scooby-Doo.
Yep, If it wasn't already apparent from the obligatory form-fitting orange turtleneck-filled Instagram pages of internet-famous cosplayers, TikTok videos envisioning a queer relationship between Velma with her Mystery Inc. colleague, Daphne Blake, and the fact that, well, we still can't stop looking at that one photo of Linda Cardellini in a red latex jumpsuit in Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed nearly two decades after the flick first hit theaters, Velma is having a pop culture moment, finding herself at the forefront of the cultural zeitgeist once again.
Yet amid this widespread fascination – one so culturally relevant, that the turtleneck-clad sleuth even made her way onto Twitter's trending topics over Halloween weekend, with fans showing off their (often very, uh, NSFW) holiday takes on the beloved character -- one question remains: Why the hell are we all so thirsty for Velma?
Aside from being smart, witty, independent, self-assured, and, well, frankly gorgeous (who isn't into indie girls?) throughout her whole canonical existence, the seemingly sudden influx of Velma appreciation seemingly dates back several decades to the early 2000's and beyond. Long before the age of social media, trending topics, and hell, Cardellini sporting the iconic skirt and long-sleeve set in the series' early aughts live-action reboot, Velma has been largely sought after, a phenomenon journalist Hank Stuever detailed in a 2001 article for the Washington Post about the changing aesthetic tides behind why we all suddenly began paying attention to the detective, aptly entitled “Velma Rules. Jinkies!”
“Pages and pages of fashion ads seem littered with Velmas of the moment, and the message is clear: Men definitely make passes at girls who wear glasses, but -- and this is so key -- the girls seem not to care anymore," Stuever wrote of the Mystery Inc. member's sex symbol origins, citing comedian Janeane Garofalo's “Velma-esque schtick” and Thora Birch's character in Ghost World as examples of the detective's attractive pop culture contemporaries. “It's like the revenge of all those mousy secretaries of ‘Laugh-In’ skits and bad Playboy cartoons of three decades ago.”
Enter 2002's Scooby-Doo. Featuring Freaks and Geeks alum Cardellini as the iconic character, the remake – long rumored to have erm, a steamier original premise -- sent our appreciation for Velma into the mainstream, especially when portrayed by a hot, young actress. The series' second installment even addressed this collective crush head on, giving the character a very, erm, 2000s makeover, consisting of removing her glasses, adding a latex bodysuit, and calling it a day. Because if there's anything we learned from aughts romcoms, the key to being hot is taking off your glasses!
However the canonical precedent of Velma's allure seeming spans beyond these factors, drawing quite a bit from her long history as a queer coded character, both aspirational and attractive to many members of the LGBTQAI+ community that are interested in women. Since first appearing on the small screen in Scooby-Doo: Where Are You? circa 1969 (nice) Velma's sexuality has remained, much like her profession of choice, a mystery. With no love interests throughout the majority of her iterations, her passion for people's intellect, the fact that she crawled away from Seth Greene's Patrick Wisely trying to ask her on a date in the clip included above, as well as a long-running fan conspiracy that she joined Mystery Inc. to get close to Daphne, she quickly became an icon in the community, garnering a cult following of women and other folks who wanted to either be her, date her, or perhaps both.
Now, reader, I know what you may be thinking – “these examples are so minute, you're just making s--t up now." Although you are right, these are incredibly subtle, Velma's little quirks – along with her smarts, pragmatism, and penchant for short skirts -- sent a big message, leading her to become a long-running icon/common crush among members of the LGBTQAI+ community, a phenomenon Steuver detailed in his article.
“By now you're saying: You fool. Everyone knows Velma is a lesbian,” he wrote. “Well, yes, there is that. But is she? Is every woman who's too savvy for the Shaggys and too invisible to the Freds simply a lesbian by default? Is the world really like that to its wallflower, crime-busting, meddling teens in unfortunate turtlenecks?” However it seems the answer, at least in Velma's case, is a resounding “yes.”
"Certainly the lesbians of the world welcome Velma into their fold -- there is actual lesbian love poetry already written to her, written by womyn who, as little girls, must have looked through a Count Chocula sugar haze and found solace in her unwavering, resourceful moxie," he noted. “They would swathe her in flannel and offer her a motorcycle ride to paradise, but is that what Velma really wants?”
Although Steuver ultimately asserts that Velma would not want that, it seems nearly two decades later, his assumption would be proven incorrect by a showrunner behind a Scooby-Doo reboot. As Comic Book Review noted in their 2020 retrospective on the character, Velma does have a love interest – Shaggy -- for the first time in Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, the inclusion of this subplot, and her apparent discomfort with dating a 20-something dude with a penchant for eating dog treats (same, girl) was actually intended to highlight her queerness, a long-running fan theory producer Tony Cervone confirmed in an Instagram post last year.
"I've said this before, but Velma in Mystery Incorporated is not bi. She's gay," Cervone wrote in a pride month post from June 2020, captioning an image of Velma and Marcie Fleach – a.k.a the oh-so-sexily nicknamed Hot Dog Water -- linked arm in arm before a rainbow flag. “We always planned on Velma acting a little off and out of character while she was dating Shaggy because that relationship was wrong for her and she had unspoken difficulty with the why," he continued. "There are hints about the why in that episode with the mermaid, and if you follow the entire Marcie arc it seems as clear as we could make it 10 years ago."