Childhood Heroine #11: Velma
I have a vivid memory of sitting on the floor of my room at age six, looking at the characters on my Scooby-Doo playing cards, and knowing with absolute certainty that I was going to grow up to look like Velma rather than Daphne. It wasn’t a strongly negative or positive feeling; it was just there, like the weather. Shortly after that, I got my first pair of glasses, pink plastic with Woodstock from “Peanuts” stamped on the hinges, and my fate was sealed. An essential Velmosity has clung to me ever since. Just last month, for instance, my mother informed me that she is a Ginger and I am a Mary Ann. (She was wrong. I am in fact the Professor.)
Ever since that formative moment of truth, I’ve felt protective of Velma and have always deeply disliked “Velma is a lesbian and Shaggy is a stoner” jokes. I gave up on Kevin Smith forever when he did that in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, a movie that was my Waterloo on many levels, from the opening credits to the realization that I’d lost my dead grandfather’s Irish tweep cap at the theater. Which is exactly the kind of thing Daphne would never do. Daphne wouldn’t be wearing a dead man’s tweed cap in the first place. Or if she did she’d look totally hot in it, and when she lost it some kind man would offer to find it for her. Or she’d get kidnapped by a man in a gorilla suit and everyone would forget about the hat issue.
Meanwhile, someone needs to solve the mysteries, and that’s where Velma comes in.
On the other hand, I deeply admire “Venture Brothers” for doing a Scooby-Doo parody casting Velma as Valerie Solanas. Who also wore some pretty good caps.
As an addendum, Velma’s character design in the 1990s cartoon A Pup Named Scooby-Doo was adorable. She was like half the size of the other characters and had tiny fast-moving legs that made that tinka-tinka-tinka cartoon sound. I hesitated to bring this up lest it seem sacrilegious to mention a cynical ’90s spinoff in the same breath as the original (although, watching clips on YouTube, the running joke of Fred blaming every crime on his neighbor Red Herring was pretty good), but, frankly, the original Scooby-Doo wasn’t very good either. It’s not like I’m discussing Popeye and Son here. Anyway, Velma in that cartoon looked more or less exactly like me at age six, sans glasses, reading my future in the cards.