Publication Details

Middlemost, R. "Babashook: The Babadook, gay iconography and Internet cultures." The Australasian Journal of Popular Culture 8 .1 (2019): 7-26.


Upon its 2014 release, Australian film The Babadook (Kent, 2014), gained critical acclaim worldwide. While the film gathered high praise, its domestic release was impeded by a lack of marketing support and ongoing debate about the quality of Australian horror films. By 2015, The Babadook was available to stream on Netflix in the United States, and one would imagine, to gradually fade from view. Yet a seemingly innocent categorization error on Netflix in 2016, which listed The Babadook as an LGBT interest film, resulted in a revival of the film's popularity as a cult film and the emergence of the Babadook as 'a frightening, fabulous new gay icon'. This article will trace the production history of The Babadook from its theatrical release through to its Netflix premiere and the evolution of the Babadook as a gay icon. Using Jenkins et al.'s work on spreadable media, the influence and spread of Internet content will be highlighted against the backdrop of contemporary political movements. In turn I will propose a number of categories essential to gay iconography, and explore how Internet cultures continually refine and expand these categories for widespread dissemination. The case study of the Babadook's representation at American Pride Month in June 2017 will be used to illustrate the ability of Internet cultures to appropriate popular culture for political impact in marginalized communities.



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