Hey, ‘Velma’ Haters, Meta Jokes Have Always Been a Part of ‘Scooby-Doo’
Today sees the release of Velma, the animated Scooby-Doo prequel featuring Mindy Kaling as the titular teen sleuth. Unlike previous Scooby-Doo shows, this one’s packed full of gore, nudity, and more pop-culture references than Trivial Pursuit night at Dennis Miller’s house.
The show has gotten a lot of hate from online trolls (who are presumably all abandoned amusement park owners on the inside). It's being review-bombed on IMDb and has inspired an avalanche of angry YouTube videos from folks whose homes are seemingly constructed out of load-bearing Funko Pops. They're all apparently furious that this show is impugning the integrity of a story about a vanful of hippies who inexplicably own a talking dog.
Of course, the primary reason why a lot of these people are so pissed is likely that Velma is a more diverse take on the characters. In this edition, Velma Dinkley is now from a Southeast Asian family and is also openly gay – which likely came as a shock to anyone who's never seen a single goddamn Scooby-Doo cartoon before. But also, they're also complaining that the show's revisionism and meta-humor somehow ruin the franchise.
It's a weird thing to say about Scooby-Doo, a property that has been constantly toyed with over the years, including a series where the Scooby gang are all toddlers and a one-off parody in which Shaggy and his pals are murdered by a witch.
We're not declaring Velma the greatest adaptation or even a great show, but its playful tinkering with the source material is inarguably in keeping with the history of Scooby-Doo. As is Velma's meta-humor, constantly referencing its own artifice by having characters comment on things like character motivation and formulaic TV conventions. All of this is totally consistent with what came before.
Even back in the '70s, the series found ways to poke fun at their role in the entertainment industry with the special Scooby-Doo Goes Hollywood, in which we learn that the world of Scooby-Doo is really a TV show starring the Mystery Inc. team as themselves.
And the 2010 series Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated (which was clearly a huge influence on Velma) continually referenced their own pop-culture history, such as how they've agreed never to talk about Scrappy-Doo ever again.
Similarly, in Scooby-Doo! WrestleMania Mystery, Shaggy defends his decision not to bring any luggage because they "all wear the same outfits every single day anyways."
And in the recent cameo-filled series Scooby-Doo and Guess Who? (the one that featured Steve Urkel in one episode for some ungodly reason), the Scooby gang literally meets the voice actors who play them.
This isn't to say that anyone has to like Velma, but Scooby-Doo is not going to be "ruined" by wacky jokes, nor by making Velma an Asian character, which is another thing that also happened years ago. Save your Scooby-Hate for things that actually matter, like he who will not be named…
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