So Pennywise and the Babadook are gay and are in a relationship. No, I did not make that up. The internet did. This comes from a meme that has been appearing on social media of an illustration of the two horror movie icons holding hands, while Pennywise is holding a bouquet of balloons matching the colors of the Gay Pride flag.
Now, the majority of the people reading this article are probably really confused by how this happened. Well, it started because of Netflix. Whenever you pull up your Netflix account, the home page will have recommended movies from specific genres based on your previous choices. With this system, Netflix has gained a reputation for incorrectly categorizing movies.
“The Babadook” is a critically acclaimed Australian horror movie that follows a widowed mother and her son being stalked by the titular creature after reading a pop-up book. Oddly enough, Netflix categorized “The Babadook” as an LGBT film. Someone took a picture of this, and it went viral. However, people started to realize that this mistake was not that crazy. In the movie, the Babadook is stalking the mom and the son so they will acknowledge him, and when the mom does not, things only get worse with the mom slowly turning into a monster herself.
The plot of this movie can obviously be seen as an allegory for “coming out of the closet”, and the rejection from a homophobic society. A huge majority of the LGBT community also picked up on this too, and that is why you have been seeing images of the Babadook associated with LGBT pride photos. LGBT interpretations of horror movies and stories are nothing new due to a population trying to find representation in a society that has until recently been very hostile towards this group, and “The Babadook” is arguably one of the best ones.
But then you now have Pennywise. When you look at the clown in the new adaptation of Stephen King’s “It”, Pennywise is downright terrifying. However, when people began to discover what actor Bill Skarsgard looked like without the clown makeup, they found him to be generally attractive. This became a meme in itself, even a joke among the child actors of the film. Someone found a parallel of this with an icon sign at the first ever gay pride parade in New York City: “I am your worst fear, I am your best fantasy.” Thus, Pennywise is now a gay icon.
The story is really funny, but should the LGBT community be making Pennywise a LGBT icon? With the Babadook, you have someone who just wants to be noticed, but Pennywise’s entire goal is to lure in small children and kill them. Even with the duality of Skarsgard and Pennywise being the intent behind Pennywise’s gay icon status, most people are not going to read that deep into it. In addition, those who are anti-LGBT could easily take this as an opportunity to demonize the LGBT community, especially since Pennywise luring little kids into the dark could easily be re-spun as an allegory for pedophilia by homophobes. I understand the need to make symbols out of figures of pop culture (especially how the Babadook has become of these symbols), but the LGBT community should find better candidates besides killer clowns that eat children.