May 22, 2022

Mindy Kaling's bastardization of Velma: a rant

 It would be easy to go for the low hanging fruit of criticizing this bastardization for race swapping. I detest race swapping because it show that the people in charge aren't good enough to come up with an original character that happens to be a minority. Instead they have to use "whitey's hand-me downs". That doesn't elevate minorities. It makes them look like parasites that latch-on to popular stuff and appropriate it... but I'm not going to stick to that.

My issue is that this series takes a massive dump on Scooby Doo. This is Scooby Doo Minus Scooby, Fred, Shaggy, and Daphne. While, yes there have been Scooby shows without Fred, Daphne, and/or Velma, the one constant has been Scooby Doo. The 2018 Daphne & Velma movie wasn't well received because it was bad, but most importantly, it was Scooby Doo minus Scooby, Shaggy, and Fred. Not only that, but Velma is solving Murders, like what the Hell!?

We're dealing with actual murderers here... this is not a developer pushing a scam to scare people from a soon to be foreclosed amusement park in order to get some cheap real estate. Also, underage naked redhead... pointing it out because this is pre-Scooby and Scooby stuff has the gang being somewhere between 16-19. Wait, the other underage girls are naked too... Is this the mature nature the show wants to promote? This is like a Pizza Cutter: all edge and no point.
The show already missed the point of Scooby Doo if they think that Shock Value makes it more mature. 

As silly as it sounds, the Original scooby Doo is far more mature than this and it didn't need gore or underage boobs to do so. While the show glossed over the desperation, the schemes, greed, jealousy, and other factors that drove the people to dress up as a monster and invest far more money than required to get out of their debt in order to terrorize those who were troubling them. 

I'm not opposed to Mindy Kaling voicing Velma. What I'm opposed to is how Un-Velma this premise is... and I'm not talking about the race swapping. This is a bad copy of Murder She Wrote, but with an Indo-American lead. A murder mystery show with an Indo-American lead isn't a bad idea. What makes it bad is taking the Scooby Doo concept and remove everything except Velma, change her race and force it into  a slightly similar, but different type of show. How do you go from seeing dudes sloce off heads to guy dresses up as bigfoot for real estate scam?

Now on Velma's design: if you see the pic with no information about it being the new Velma series, would you recognize Velma?
The answer is no. You wouldn't. At best, you'd say that the glasses remind you of Velma. The Grey Hoodie and black gloves hide the quick Velma identifiers. Red headband, white karate gi = Ryu. Red cap, red shirt, blue overalls, mustache = Mario. White hair, red shirt, white pants = Race Bannon.Black hair, Leopard fur tunic, blue tie = Fred Flintstone. Reddish hair, Yellow Jumpsuit, white boots = 1987 TMNT April. Pink vest, whitw undershirt, lavender tights, and purple boots = Prince Adam. Orange Turtleneck, thick rimmed glasses, red skirt = Velma. Clothing, hairstyle, color palettes.
Art by ckjedi

If you change the race of an existing character, you NEED to keep the other character identifiers as close to the original as possible.
Had the hoodie been orange, the viewer could easily identify her as Velma. Yes, I'm aware she has her orange sweater underneath, but it's hidden by a grey/black hoodie that breaks her color palette.
Compared to this hastily finger drawn on my phone minimalist new Velma. You wouldn't recognize her as Velma, not because "she's brown" but instead, her palette is not what people commonly associate with Velma.
Color palettes used to identify characters are one of the reasons why the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles received different skin tones and Bandanas on the toys.

Unfortunately, now I have to revisit the race angle. Kaling, commented something about people not freaking out about a talking dog, but freaking out about an Intelligent South Asian... it just shows how wrong and dishonest her argument is.
First, a nerdy Asian? Really? That's as uncommon as an obnoxiously loud African-American, and a horndog Latino. Stereotypes, how freaking progressive... (said full of sarcasm) The point is that people dislike these forced swaps to fill quotas. Trying to make X character fit into all the races and sexes is a dumb idea. Just as there isn't a version of real people to fit all races, fictional characters should be treated the same way. 

It boils down to the same thing: We've become so progressive that we're regressing into segregation. I recognize that children of different ethnicities would benefit of seeing heroes that Look Like Themselves. At the same time taking a white character, repainting him into a different ethnic look, is accidentally insulting the non-whites. We don't need a black Reed Richards. We need a black superhero who is smart enough to be seen as a scientific peer by Reed Richards. We don't need a Latino Batman, we need a Latin American hero who has suffered great loss, and from that loss, has forged his will to become a weapon for good. The problem is that this requires hard work and effort. Something the modern "progressive creatives" do not want. They want all the recognition and glory without putting in the work.

Second, her main focus being on race is harmful for the product. Race swapping is a weak criticism shield. If the show fails, none of the "creatives" will recognize that something was wrong with the show and blame "racism". If the show fails because people were put off by Kaling's "fuck the fans" attitude, the blame will be put on racism and not on the star attacking her customers.

Third, and in a way, the most important point: she's taking over a 53 year old franchise with a multi generational fanbase that can be a bit zealous. Kaling already stated that she was going to deviate from who Velma is in order to make her more South Asian-like... or should I say more Mindy Kaling-like?

So, you change the character's race, the origins, the outfit, and now the personality, then WHY Call her Velma if she's NO LONGER Velma?

Will I be watching this? Nope! There's no point in watching a Scooby Doo Minus Scooby Doo series... especially one who uses race as a shield for criticism.

If they really wanted to expand the lore and add Diversity, then Velma could have been a prequel in which a non-race swapped Velma (voiced by Kaling) is taken under the wing of an amateur detective wunderkind (who happens to be South Asian) who solve strange cases across town. Eventually, Velma's mentor disappears while following the trail of a Mysterious Mastermind. Then, Velma keeps solving cases sometimes on her own, other times with different (Hopefully semi recurring) classmates (of various races, ethnicities, genders, etc.) while trying to crack her toughest case yet, the disappearance of her mentor. Slowly, the rest of the Scooby gang is introduced. Most likely due to different cases. Examples of possible cases: Norville Rogers is facing expulsion for allegedly eating the food from a food drive (the culprit is a Great Dane puppy). Daphne Blake has been stalked by a mysterious creep who leaves creepy messages regarding how close he is to her. Frederick Jones, who is kind of a rival to Velma, is accused of destroying the bike of Redd Harring, a classmate/bully who despises Jones (obvious reference to Red Herring from A Pup Named Scooby Doo). Hell, maybe for one episode Velma IS FRAMED and the Scooby gang decide to help her. The idea is to start with small, high school level of pranks gone wrong stuff and up the ante all the way to real not-family friendly Mysteries.

For the Finale, the gang solve their first BIG Mystery together, setting up for a new Scooby Doo, Where are you!? But what do I know? I want to be respectful to the source material.
The idea is to expand the cast beyond the gang and hopefully adding a contribution to the lore.

Maybe even create a Mystery Inc. Rival team  helmed by sCrappy Doo and other recurring characters. (Not the exact team, but something like say: Flim-Flam, Hot Dog Water, Redd Harring, a new character, and sCrappy Doo) 

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