If you found yourself wondering what #IStandWithLesbianBabadook is about while doom scrolling through Twitter this morning, you’re not alone. On its surface, the hashtag sounds like the kind of cabin fever dream cooked up by our continued quarantine, citing the titular protagonist of the 2014 Australian horror film that became an unlikely queer icon soon after. Knowing that it has something to do with Dominican-American actress Aimee Carrero—of Elena of Avalor and She-Ra and the Princesses of Power voice acting fame—makes it all the wilder.
It all began with a meme. An account by the name of @lesbianbabadook posted a pair of images of a little kid crying holding a gun captioned with a riff on a Twitter joke that’s been making the rounds: “when the class war starts and I gotta put the voice of she-ra in a guillotine,” it read. It was in response to another tweet that quoted Carrero’s recent comments on, presumably, Bernie Sanders suspending his campaign and prompting many of his supporters to voice their displeasure at the prospect of a Joe Biden ticket come November.
“They didn’t have the exact shoe I wanted so I think I’ll walk on a bed of nails barefoot for 4 more years,” it read. The tone and tenor of the tweet did not, as you can imagine, go over well.
Enter @lesbianbabadook (follower count: 329) using the aforementioned meme to call out Carrero’s wealth, the implicit argument (as many have since pointed out) being that it’s easy for someone as privileged as Carrero to so flippantly construe the frustration of many a Bernie voter in a metaphor about shoes. It would’ve ended there had the Disney voice actress not retweeted them and framed the meme as a death threat, prompting, in turn, an avalanche of support for, yep, the “lesbian Babadook,” that started with the She-Ra fandom and exponentially grew from there.
At its heart, this controversy has all the hallmarks of a 21st-century farce: online humor, cyberbullying, political discourse on social media, celebrity culture, righteous anger over presidential candidates—all wrapped around explosive issues of class, privilege and economic inequality within the context of the 2020 election. It’s the kind of conversation that really doesn’t lend itself well to nuanced discussions on Twitter via memes.
Carrero, a Warren supporter (per her Twitter account) spent the following hours retweeting articles about Trump that, in her words, should really be getting people angry, as opposed to her original tweet. But the damage had been done and so a hashtag for ages was born: #IStandWithLesbianBabadook (and with it, much to Carrero’s chagrin, many more inflamed responses than what she’d first set out to chastise.)