Politically Correct Scooby-Doo - Hanna-Barbera hear pagan protests and carefully distinguish good Wiccans from evil witches in video, book


Wiccans and pagans have often protested against children books and cartoons depicting witches as evil. Hanna-Barbera and WB now apparently heard their protests and released a politically correct video, "Scooby-Doo and the Witch's Ghost", and a tie-in book, "Scooby-Doo and the Hex Files" (New York: Scholastic, 1999).

The Scooby Gang visits Oakhaven, New England, to meet famous mystery writer Ben Ravencroft. Oakhaven attracts tourists with the story of its famous local witch, Sarah Ravencroft, Ben's ancestor (a reference to the Blair Witch tourism in Maryland?). A festival is scheduled with The Hex Girls, a gothic rock band. The Hex Girls scare Scooby and Shaggy, but they turn out to have very few to do with real witchcraft; their antics are mostly gimnick for the band. A more serious threat is a flying witch, but in turn she turns out to be a pseudo, the owner of a local grocery store intent at attracting more tourists. Since one of the Hex Girls has something to do with Wicca, we are introduced to the difference between Wicca and witchcraft. While the latter, we are told, may be evil, Wicca simply "uses the forces of nature to heal" and help people. Ben Ravencroft would like to prove that Sarah was a Wiccan rather than a witch, thus clearing the family name. In order to do this, he claims he needs Sarah's lost journal. When Scooby finds it, the Gang discovers that it is really a spell book rather than a journal, and that Ben was after it in order to become a powerful power-hungry witch as Sarah had been in her time. When Ben summons, but cannot control, the evil spirit of Sarah herself, things take a definite turn to the worse. Velma, however, persuades one of the Hex Girls, Thorn (who is "part Wiccan" by descent), to perform a banishment ritual, sending Sarah back to the spirit world. Ben's plan is fooled, and Oakhaven tourism may still flourish thanks to the Hex Girls and to a giant turkey left behind as a result of Sarah's spells.

What is remarkable in the story is the serious attempt to teach children about the difference between Wicca as a nature religion and the evil witchcraft they usually find in fairy tales (not to mention "The Blair Witch Project"). Velma, who takes Wicca seriously and urges Thorn to perform the banishment, is once again a parallel character to another WB heroine, Willow Rosenberg of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" fame. It is also noteworthy that, while classic Scooby-Doo stories more often than not ended up by unmasking mosters as human pseudos, in recent post-modern Scooby stories such as this one monsters (in this case, Sarah's spirit) are regarded as real. At any rate, the pagan community may be grateful to Hanna-Barbera and WB for a politically correct story about Wiccans and witches (athough it may still disagree with the use of "witch" as a four-letter word).

(reviewed by Massimo Introvigne)

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