Scooby Dooby Don’t

Daphne Scooby-DooSo if you haven’t heard, in the new Scooby-Doo movie [spoilers throughout] “Scooby-Doo! Frankencreepy” main character Daphne gets “cursed” and goes from a “size 2 to a size 8”.  Just so we can be certain that kids understand the message she not only talks about how terrible it is, but she looks in the mirror and recoils in complete horror.  Got that boys and girls?  The absolutely worst case scenario for a girls is that she could end up being a size 8.

I’m not going to spend time on the fact that “size 8” is about 3 sizes smaller than the average American woman.  I’m not going to spend time on the fact that the drawing of “size 8” Daphne looks more like size 28 Daphne (that would be my size btw).  I written before about the issues with using “she’s not fat” as a defense against fat shaming and all of those things apply here (including and especially the fact that when we fight fat shaming behavior with “but she’s not that fat” what we are also saying is that there would be a size at which she deserved that to be fat shamed and that’s not true.)

In a great piece for The Good Men Project Tom Burns wrote “It’s sad to think that my daughter can’t even watch a cartoon about a dog solving mysteries without negative body stereotypes being thrown in her face.”  Right?!  What does this tell girls about their friends who are fat, their moms who are fat, their teachers who are fat, or themselves if they are a size 8 or bigger?

Suggesting that looking the way other people look is a “curse” is highly problematic in every conceivable way, which many people pointed out and so Warner Brothers issued a statement to HuffPost in which they seem to have decided that the best way to get out of a hole is to just keep on digging:

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).

While Daphne is at first upset by the sudden change, there is a touching moment where Fred points out that he didn’t even notice a change and that she always looks great to him.

At the end, when Velma explains how they figured out the mystery, she points out that the curse actually DIDN’T take away what means the most to each of them: their friendship.

The loss of Daphne’s regular appearance is proven to be a superficial thing, and not what actually matters the most to her.

Oh, let’s break it down:

There is always sensitivity to obesity and self image, especially when it comes to programming made for children and a family audience.

So they think suggesting that being fat is the worst thing that can happen to a woman, and that fat women (here defined as a size 8 or bigger) looking at themselves in the mirror and recoiling in horror  is “sensitive”?  What would have done if they were trying to be insensitive?

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).

So the message is that being fat and looking good are actually mutually exclusive.  Warner Bros wants us to know, in the most sensitive way possible, that if we are fat and/or have frizzy curly hair then we do not and cannot look good.  Also, it’s perfectly reasonable for “not being fat” to be the thing that means the most to women.

While Daphne is at first upset by the sudden change, there is a touching moment where Fred points out that he didn’t even notice a change and that she always looks great to him.

Another great lesson girls, if you want to know if you’re ok – ask a boy. You should always judge yourself by whether or not boys think you’re attractive. If the way you look changes substantially – even instantaneously – you should not be creeped out if that boy says that he didn’t notice.  All that matters is if he thinks you’re pretty. (Boys, girls should base their self-worth on what you think of them!)

At the end, when Velma explains how they figured out the mystery, she points out that the curse actually DIDN’T take away what means the most to each of them: their friendship.

The loss of Daphne’s regular appearance is proven to be a superficial thing, and not what actually matters the most to her.

So just to be really clear, it’s definitely not possible to be fat and pretty but it’s ok, because, friendship!

I’ve seen people giving all kinds of ideas why this is ok (“They’re not saying fat is bad, they’re saying that Daphne thinks fat is bad!”) The truth is that this is being marketed to kids and even taking the chance of creating body shame is a terrible idea ( and completely unnecessary since they could have made her into a literal monster, or made her green with yellow spots or something).  I am really happy to see how many people identified this as the bullshit that it is, and I think that that’s a step in the right direction.

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36 thoughts on “Scooby Dooby Don’t

  1. Why am I surprised at their ham-handed response to this? It’s just adding fuel to the fire! It’s WB’s version of, “Get over yourself.” How about if THEY did that instead? It’s “Don’t blame us, blame the standards!” GAH.

    Seriously, if that is in line with “Standards,” then those standards fucking well need to be rewritten. That is absolutely outrageous – and rage-inducing, for that matter!!

    SO pissed.

  2. WhatthefuckisthisIcan’teven…

    This crap wouldn’t be worth watching anyway. Kasey Kasem (may he rest in peace) hasn’t done Shaggy’s voice for years.

    I so deeply miss the gentler (hippie-influenced?) heyday of the original series, when the supernatural stuff had a natural explanation and the worst thing they ever called somebody was “Danger-Prone Daphne”.

    Hopefully it won’t be too long before this piece joins other bigoted historical relics of Warner Brothers’ “glorious” past, like the WWII (and other stereotype-filled) Looney Tunes. Not to be destroyed, but to serve as an example of “(These stereotypes) were wrong then, and they are wrong now”.

    BTW, All The Trigger Warnings for the comments on the Good Men Project essay. Much use of “unhealthy” as a Magic Word to justify the dehumanization and hate which follows its invocation 8P

    Sometimes it feels like the hate is just never gonna stop…

    1. “BTW, All The Trigger Warnings for the comments on the Good Men Project essay. Much use of “unhealthy” as a Magic Word to justify the dehumanization and hate which follows its invocation 8P”

      Oh, yes; because a show where the skinny protagonist eats and naps and eats and eats and naps and eats so much it’s a *running gag* (all junk food, to boot) is very concerned about healthy habits, and that’s the only reason they’d portray a fat woman (who *isn’t seen partaking in any UNhealthy habits,* btw) as a subhuman creature who agrees her looks are open season for any kind of mocking, concern-trolling, or “pity” the people around her want to inflict. The bullying is, as always, coming from a place of *deepest concern.* /sarcasm

      Yeah, I liked Scooby Doo when I was a kid, but I’m pretty sure it just jumped the shark in a way Scrappy Doo couldn’t have managed with Seven League Boots and a jetpack.

  3. Well, gosh, I didn’t think I needed Scooby Doo fatsplained to me, but there you go. Thanks Warner Brothers!

  4. Wow, their explanation actually made it so much worse! Not only is being a size 8 and having curly hair a curse and horrifying, but we also get sexist stereotypes with saying the thing most important to her is her looks. A woman who is attractive (unlike Velma who is nerdy, and thus unattractive, as evidence by her glasses) must obviously be concerned only with her appearance and attractiveness.

    And of course Fred tells her he doesn’t even notice a change instead of saying he still finds her just as beautiful as before. I mean, it’s fairly normal regardless of gender to want to feel your significant other finds you attractive, but again we are fed the typical message that the highest compliment a fat girl can be given is to be told she isn’t, or doesn’t look, fat. (Reminds me of shallow hal, which was basically a whole movie around the idea that not only is thin beautiful and fat ugly, but the way to compliment or be nice to a fat woman is to pretend she’s very thin.-_-)

  5. I never watched the original series anyway. I found it confusing when the main character’s head looked like a ball stuck on a pencil, and had the world’s fugliest dog in the whole entire universe.

    I haven’t seen any of the re-make movies, so I don’t even know when they re-started or how many they made.

    PS Not bashing anyone or anything, just thought the show had nothing going for it, but the main thing is it had no go-juice, so it didn’t “do it” for me.

  6. The original cartoon was actually very clever and no matter what monsters did they were always revealed to be just mean people. I think it had a good message and what they do right now is seriously effed up.

    Children are the most sensitive. They are not born with preconceived standards of beauty. I have noticed so many children basically repeating their parents’ words like “Skinny is pretty” and “I need to eat less, no bread from now on!”. You can observe how OK is a mom with her body image by listening to her daughter.

    I remember having a sleepover one night at age 11 or 12 and a friend’s mom smiled at me in my pajamas and said that oh, don’t I want to lose weight? Well, anyway I should do that but not for a boy necessarily, just do it for myself! *fake smile*.

    Even if her words said something else, I know she was thinking that I should go on a diet because at 13 or 14 people get crushes and mine will not like me because I am fat.

    WB’s response made it so much worse because there is no way to justify what they did (in a logical and coherent manner anyway). The reaction she gets from the other members of the gang is just ughh…but hey, even if you are fat and therefore horrible, there will be a guy for you (who met you when you were thin though and still knows they will solve the mystery and break the curse…) and your friends tolerate you anyway (blegh).

    What a heartwarming story! (not)

  7. I don’t actually know where to start with this… I just can’t.. As some one who actually enjoys the really old episodes of Scooby Doo. I may have to slam my head against a wall (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻ and go back to bed.

  8. Wow, that response from WB is embarrassing. “Yes, we are saying that fat and curly hair = ugliness, but at least looks aren’t everything?” Wow.

    The choice of sizes almost makes me think that whoever wrote it isn’t actually familiar with women’s clothing sizes. A size 2 is *really small*, to the point that stores don’t always stock them. And like Ragen already said, a size 8 is totally unexceptional. It’s *so* detached from reality that I wonder if the reason is not just “horribly unrealistic beauty standards” but also “a man wrote the joke and didn’t do any research”.

    1. I agree. I’m sure there are plenty of girls and women who look like Daphne’s skinny version and are not a size 2.

      Ughh so much wrong with this. If anyone knows of a company email/contact form where I can complain, feel free to tell me!

    2. I wonder where the curly hair as ugly concept started. It makes no sense to me. Is Shirley Temple now seen as an example of excessive stupidity then? Weird.

      It’s my understanding that a size small (s/m/l) is a size 6-8, so a size 2 is below standard labelling. So this Daphne is “changing” from a below avg. size to small, which is plentiful.

  9. I’m horrified and saddened for all the children and impressionable people who will watch this movie. I tried talking to my fiance about the problems with this and he just doesn’t get why this is sickening – the blank look on his face when I tried to explain it just hurt my heart. Why is this so hard for thin people, who have never experienced fat shaming, to get?

    We’ve been together for 6 years and he’s been exposed to my fat acceptance ideals for years and STILL he doesn’t really get why something like this is wrong. ARGH! Days like this make me wish I had a friend who follows Fat Acceptance to talk to. Literally no one in my life has any clue and most (probably ALL) of them still buy into the whole “thin is healthy” “fat is bad” mentality.

  10. So much to be horrified by, even beyond the fat-shaming, that it makes the head spin. Weight gain is the worst possible nightmare… it’s reasonable for a woman’s looks to be the most important thing to her (great news for Fred, but then again he cares more about the van than her)… it doesn’t matter how you feel about yourself so long as a man says it’s okay…

    And then there’s the bizarre idea that women’s dress sizes are somehow what? Exponential instead of just incremental? WTF?!?! I mean, a size 8 is all of one dress size bigger than a Rockette — not anything scary even if you buy into fat-shaming.

    I’ve heard it said that the real lesson of Scooby Doo is that the worst monsters are really people. I guess that still holds true. Except the folks who came up with this steaming pile make old Mr. Jenkins from the amusement park look like Mary Poppins by comparison.

  11. Hope this isn’t a double-post, because I tried to post this before and it hasn’t gone through, even though it wasn’t flagged for moderation. Hence, you’re getting the Cliff’s Notes’ version of a truly epic rant, and not about what you think…

    “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.”

    Oh. Gee WB, that puts my mind at ease… that the same BS&P who thought the Jr. Ghostbusters driving a go-kart made out of metal held together with nuts, bolts, and welds was “dangerous imitable behavior” but the same kids driving the same go-kart made out of *plastic piping, held together with duct tape* was totally safe didn’t see anything insensitive about your portrayal of Daphne.

  12. I was thinking a lot lately about fat shaming in movies, especially for children. And I remember for example Disney’s “The sword in the stone” (1963). I loved this movie as a kid, but one episode felt so wrong to me: When Merlin changes young Arthur into a squirrel, a young female squirrel falls in love with him – and there’s a fat and “ugly” squirrel, that follows Squirrel-Merlin. The fat squirrel is ridiculed and shall be seen as ugly, as “nobdy wants you when you’re fat, not even an old man”. And this is just ONE example, there are so many more! Think of Cinderella’s “ugly” sisters, or of the bewitched tree in “the last unicorn”, that turns into a love-crazed fat tree-woman with enormous boobs. Plus, the evildoers (not only) in childrens movies (and books) are often fat. Positive fat figures (which are mostly male) are always the “funny” dudes (like the stereotypical sanguine type), but they are never allowed to be the hero.
    Sometimes I ask myself if messages like these made me think like that for a very long time. When all my friends at school had their first boyfriends and kissed and danced, I was sitting in the corner crying silently and thinking nobody would ever want to kiss me. And for a long time I was right, nobody asked me for a dance, as if the other kids felt the same: You can kiss the girl with the glasses and braces, you can dance with the downright stupid girl, but nobody wants the fat girl. Thank you, Disney and WB, for teaching us.

    1. Now that you mention it. A couple of the older (for me) Disney movies I was watching really did have a lot of fat shaming in it, I think the closest we got to not having a lot of fat shaming in a Disney movie was Lilo and Stitch.

      You are also right about the messages it sends, I know in high school my friends thought I was gay because I had never had a boyfriend, first kiss, I was always alone at school dances, etc. That was because no one had interest in the fat girl other then using her for a joke.

      1. Too familiar. :/ In addition to my upbringing, I think that all of the self-esteem issues from fat-shaming led me to jump into my first relationship when I was 19 with a guy who treated me terribly. My thoughts were always on, “Does he like me?” rather than, “Do I really like him? What does he bring into my life? Why should I bother keeping this person around?” But again, fat-shame. “Be happy you can get any guy.” We met in college, and so often people would come up and say, “You two are such a cute couple.” Usually from women. Usually fat women. My best guess at translation: “How cute that a tall, thin guy would be caught dead with a fatty like you. I hope I can find that.”

        I can hear you on the “gay” thing. Years later, I have had several old high school classmates tell me that they thought that I was gay. Apparently this was based on: not having a boyfriend, not talking to guys much (fear of rejection, maybe?), being confident and having a sense of humor. In their minds, that makes a person a lesbian. Never mind that many of my friends also graduated from high school without having a boyfriend.

        So depressing that people think these things.

        1. It really is. I walked in on my friends talking about me and it went like this.

          Friend one: “I’m sure *insert my name* is gay. You never see her with guys and she is kinda built like it you know being fat and all..” all other friends nod on agreement.

          Friend two: “You know I feel bad because this city isn’t really gay friendly… How will she find someone?”

          Me: “Like everyone else.. By looking.”

          All of them: “How long have you been standing here?”

          Me: “Long enough to know you think I am gay, which would there be a problem if I was?”

          Them: “No. But we never do see you with guys..”

          Me: “Did you stop to think that maybe I have known most of the kids in this school since Kindergarden? That a lot of the guys here have bullied me since grade two, and are shallow, vain little assholes who only use the fat girl as a joke?”

          Them: “No.”

          Me: “And there is your answer on why I am single. I will have a boyfriend one day, just not now.” and lone behold 2 years after that convo I had my first boyfriend. Though to this day seven years after high school has ended I still get asked when I run in to people from high school if I am gay all because I don’t have a ring on my finger or kids.

  13. I’m absolutely disgusted. I’m pissed. I’m so pissed, I’m having trouble expressing my pissiness. In my fit of disgust, I’m spreading the word on FB and Twitter about this bullshit movie. Your article was excellent, by the way!

  14. This is also a reminder that I need to stop reading comment sections in a lot of places. The number of people who think shaming people is a good thing — in so many words — is sickening.

    There’s a small, dark part of me I’m not very proud of that would like to go around meeting these people individually so I could have a go at shaming them about whatever I might find physically displeasing or presumptively unhealthy about them and show them precisely how awesome bullying is as a tool for social change.

    1. You would be far from the first person to have that thought. Sometimes, it does make you wonder if that’s the only way these people are *ever* going to get it, because they clearly don’t read the research about shaming, they clearly don’t understand how it feels, and they’re unlikely to ever be able to empathize with fat people. Nah, more than likely, it would be, “X trait you pointed out isn’t bad, but fat is blahblahblah…”

  15. I am stunned & angry & very hurt because my favorite form of entertainment, aside from watching sports on tv, is to watch animated shows & I have always loved Scooby Doo. Well, good-bye, Scooby & the gang, you just lost someone who had been a fan for over 45 years. This is just inexcusable & unforgivable. It also means that I will not be buying any more Looney tunes or Harry Potter shirts from the WB Shop. I am definitely breaking up with Warner Brothers.

  16. So, let’s see… we’ll stereotype Daphne by making her greatest fear to be fat, and we’ll stereotype Fred by making him the typically clueless guy that doesn’t notice any change in the women around him. Merciful heavens, if he doesn’t notice her size change, what chance is there that he’ll ever notice if she gets a new hair style?!?

    All that’s missing is the lame plot device where they make Velma into an instant “hottie” by removing her glasses and giving her a new outfit. Because, of course, no one would ever find her attractive with the glasses and dresses that she wears.

    Roh-roh, Rhaggy. I think they’re piling the Scooby-Doo a bit deep now. We’re going to need the super-dooper-pooper-scooper for this one.

  17. TW: fat shaming, fat hate, death of kids, eating disorders

    This is bad. What’s worse is I’ve seen channels airing the first Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballls. The one where chidren are taught food additives will make them sick or puke. And for the finally the message don’t overeat or you’ll end up fat and needing to use a ECV scooter like the town mayor. This situation with Daphne is small potatoes when compared to a film that propgandizes eating disordered thinking as “healthy”.

    So what I’m saying is this is bad, but I’ve seen much worse. Meanwhile children continue to DIE from starvation eating disorders, and all that is said is at least they weren’t fat. I wonder what will happen should a documentary about pediatric eating disorders be made. What will those who contributed to the stigma and bigotry that caused an entire generation to suffer say?

    1. Oh, how I loathe CWCM. The fat-shaming, food policing, and stereotyping is obnoxious, but then on top of that, they try to have their fat-free aspartame-sweetened cake and eat it, too, by having a subplot about the (thin, conventionally attractive) reporter learning she needs to stop worrying what other people think of her appearance and be her real self. Good thing her real self wasn’t *fat,* huh?

  18. Animation should be fun, innocent, entertaining, especially works created for children! Instead we have another example of a large corporate entity using easy, hack plot lines reflecting what very
    unenlightened writers and producers think represents the common culture. So very sad that the common culture really does practice fat shaming, really does tell girls (especially) that looks matter more than anything else, and really does treat anybody that is not “Hollywood Hot” as the butt of a joke, including children. WB needs writers who reflect the diversity and evolving 21st century, not rehash tired old cliches!
    I am saddened that well-meaning parents, babysitters and daycare givers innocently play cartoons such as this one without realizing the underlying negative message, especially if they have fond memories of the original, more ” innocent” series. Thanks once again for calling out the bullshit Regan!

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