Velma Dinkley was supposed to be the ying to Daphne Blake’s yang. She was the book-smart, more logical one to Daphne’s All-American cheerleader preppy girl archetype. In many ways, people have said the original Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? modeled its characters after the characters from The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. You can see the obvious reflection between Shaggy Rogers and Maynard G. Krebs. Fred Jones was Dobie Gillis. Daphne was Thalia Menninger and Velma was Zelda Gilroy.
I’ve even heard a theory that the characters represent the student bodies of the Five College Consortium, where as Fred is Amherst College, Daphne is Mount Holyoke College, Velma is Smith College, Scooby is University of Massachusetts at Amherst and Shaggy is Hampshire College. However, those associated with the shows during the late 1960s and through the 1970s have denied that.
Sadly in the 1960s, women like Velma were still considered the types who would become Old Maids if they didn’t button down and find themselves a man. And I’m sure even then middle Americans saw Velma more as someone who enjoyed the company of women. It wasn’t until the Equal Rights Movement that you can see Velma as more of a positive role model. It was okay for her to be smart and not need to be eye-candy. Yes, she was ditzy as she was often dropping her glasses. Even the smart and rational people can sometimes be klutzy. Sadly, Velma became more and more absent as the series went through several versions as the production behind it focused on Scooby-Dum and he whose name shall not be mentioned, i.e. Scrappy-Doo.
Velma came back in A Pup Named Scooby-Doo changing their ages college-level teenagers to young pubescent kids. In the late 1990s, Warner Brothers began to release Scooby-Doo movies on video and DVD beginning with the great Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island. And there have been about three dozen more released since then 1998.
Around this same time, people began to speculate more on whether or not Velma was a lesbian or not. It was often the type of thing that was said in rumors and on-line chats. In Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, a dream sequence in which the titular characters imagine themselves in the Mystery Machine van has a reference to Velma-like characer (Jane Silvia) being a lesbian. When the Scooby-Doo live-action movie was released in 2002, James Gunn had intended for Velma (Linda Cardellini) and Daphne (Sarah Michelle Gellar) having a relationship before the studio cut it out.
But when people began seeing the Scooby-Doo live action movies, they realized that Cardellini has turned Velma into a hotty with her sardonic dialogue. Just about everyone I knew 20 years ago was commenting that Velma was very attractive. Velma’s always been attractive. It was dated stereotypes that made us not see her as beautiful. In the years since as cosplay has gotten more popular, Velma has been turned into one of the hottest, sexiest characters around mainly because it doesn’t matter. Plus-size women dress up as her. You could Google “Velma cosplay” and you’d see so many women having fun with the character.
For what it’s worth, I think it’s queerbaiting to assume that Velma has to be a lesbian just because of the way she looks and acts, even though she’s shown attraction to men in other productions, such as Zombie Island. Even if she is bisexual or pansexual, it shouldn’t matter. Just because she doesn’t fit some archiac embodiment of what a heterosexual woman should be doesn’t automatically make her a lesbian. I mean, you look around and all you see is women trying to make themselves look hotter with glasses on. Things change over time.
So, now, with the latest Trick or Treat Scooby-Doo, Velma (voiced by Kate Micucci) is having a mean crush on a female character, Coco Diablo (voiced by Myrna Velasco). As the movie opens, the Mystery, Incorporated gang has tracked down Coco, who has been making costume for all the previous bad guys they’ve dealt with over the years. Coco is arrested and put in a prison containing the villains from past shows.
With all the bad guys in prison and no one to supply them with the proper costume, they discover their mysteries are uneventful. Fred (voiced by Frank Welker) is growing tired and bored and decides to set up a booth at the Halloween carnival to drum up business. At the same time, Daphne (voiced by Grey Griffin) is dealing with the possibilities that she has nothing to do in the company and frustrated with that. And Shaggy (voiced by Matthew Lillard) and Scooby (voiced by Welker as well) just want to go trick-or-treating in their pumpkin costumes.
But strange things happen at the carnival fair that point back to the prison and the Mystery, Incorporated gang seek out the help of Coco to track down who’s behind it all. Of course, Velma is more than excited to spend time with Coco. But conservative parents can be rest assured, they keep it very family-friendly. Most of the scenes involve Velma letting her crush of Coco get in the way of more logical, rational detecting. This is nothing different if it had been a man she was crushing on.
At 77 minutes with credits, it seems a little long at times. I think this is another tired studio interference of making something longer than it should. They could’ve cut 10-15 minutes out and it would’ve felt better. But a video at just an hour or so might have seen like a cheat to those purchasing the DVD. But since it’s already streaming on Cartoon Network and HBO Max, it seems like it might be too long to keep some fans young and old interested. There’s even an 1980s goth rock style song “Change” played during a montage that is a nice surprise. It’s a far cry from the tunes sung by Austin Roberts using during chase sequence but it brought back some of the fun I had as a kid watching the shows when the obligatory chase sequence would come up.
There are some great jokes that I won’t ruin here. The notion that it kinda adds meta elements but not really to drive it home will put a smile on older fans’ faces. There’s also a little socioeconomic issue on the Coolsville Prison where all the bad guys reside that might make some people old enough to realize it’s a joke about private prisons. And anyone who is a fan of Scooby-Doo will probably know who’s behind all the bad things going on.
I don’t think people should let the subplot about Velma and Coco get in the way of watching this. There’s still a G rating. If anything else, this might open a discussion with your children and grandchildren about Velma.
What do you think? Please comment.