The Babadook-dook dooked right into the hearts of the LGBTQ community.
Mr. Babadook is a terrifying monster that haunts and destroys families. “You can’t get rid of the Babadook,” the little boy in the film menacingly reminds his mother.
Oddly, Mr. Babadook has become a beloved representative of the LGBTQ community, due to a curveball thrown by Netflix, the film appeared under the LGBTQ film section (apparently by accident, but maybe actually a Freudian slip?) and the Internet threw a big scary, gay party.
It seems ridiculous to juxtapose a movie monster with gay rights. But maybe it’s not as ridiculous as it seems. After re-watching the film and understanding it as LGBTQ-related, I think the subtext was always there. Hidden under all that horror movie nonsense were themes of sexuality, social exclusion and self-discovery.
The internet seems to agree. One Tumblr user posted, “whenever someone says the Babadook isn’t openly gay it’s like? Did you even watch the movie?” The responders were either unaware of the joke or fully for it. “Y’all realize the Babadook was just her depression right?” one commenter said, while another responded, “[it’s] a movie about a gay man who just wants to live his life in a small Australian suburb. It may be ‘just a movie’ to you, but to the LGBT community The Babadook is a symbol of our journey.”
The internet is riddled with The Babadook sporting rainbow apparel, encouraging people to get Babashook, sashaying away on RuPaul’s Drag Race or being nominated for The Human Rights Visibility Award.
As a horror movie fanatic, I decided it was time to revisit this film.
I first saw this movie back when it was released in 2014, and The Babadook gave me nightmares even though I was 22 years old. I’m already a very jumpy person; I’m not sure why I love scary movies. The Babadook, with his grudge-like voice, creepily dark appearance and freakishly long fingernails rattled me. The character is supposed to be the manifestation of depression from a single mother whose baby’s daddy died in a car crash while driving her to the hospital to deliver their child. The Babadook grows stronger the more you ignore him, eventually consuming your life.
However, after experiencing the wonderful PR the LGBTQ community has done for Mr. Babadook, I’m not just shook, I’m Babashook. While re-watching the film I kept in mind that this was simply a gay man’s journey of expressing his sexuality and having to work for the acceptance of his family and small suburban society.
I realized, whether the writer/director, Jennifer Kent, meant to or not, The Babadook really does portray a common and difficult coming out story.
LGBTQ youth have a higher chance of developing depression. Unfortunately, most societies around the world work against someone whose sexual orientation or gender identity is anything but straight. So LGBTQ teens are more likely to have suicidal thoughts, exile themselves from others and try to ignore the Babadook.
In the end (spoiler alert) the mother acknowledges the Babadook and accepts him into the family. In the film, this was representative of her confronting her depression. However, now watching it through an LGBTQ lens, the story ends with the Babadook’s family finally accepting him for who he is. The family was the one who contorted him to be this horrifying being that plagues the family in the first place by exiling him due to his sexual orientation. Once they were able to accept him for all he was, he became a normal part of their household again.
It’s actually a really inspirational story.