Urban legends can range from the scary to the profound to the plain confusing and unexplained. With Massachusetts so entrenched in history and on the forefront of the future with its hospitals and colleges, it’s no wonder so many legends involve the Bay state. Recently an older legend has come back around. It’s not about haunted hitchhikers or deranged killers or college pranks. It’s one of those stories where you just laugh, scratch your head and retell it without thinking.
To entire generations of cartoon watchers, Scooby Doo is a part of their childhood. There may be a direct correlation between the show and the number of paranormal investigators out today, although very few of them spend their time ripping off masks and getting their dog out of trouble. The show was the first of its kind, showing four friends and their four legged pet driving around with no means of incoming falling into well-conceived but poorly executed plots whenever they stopped for gas.
There has been a classic urban legend about the show has been around for years. The five characters all represent the different type of drug users. From cocaine to the secret ingredient in Scooby Snacks, these young adults run around looking for their next fix. Any aspect of the show, from Daphne’s handkerchief to the unseen back of the Mystery Machine, is attacked.
Another legend has come out lately involving the Scoobies that has less to do with drugs and more to do with the foundation of Massachusetts education system. According to Snopes.com, the fearsome five-some has been compared to five local colleges.
Scooby, with his dopey lovable nature, is UMass. Shaggy represents the typical stoner of Hampshire. Fred, the coke fiend in other legends, is the ideal man seen as an Amherst man. Daphne, many a young boy’s first crush, is the Mt. Holyoke girl that makes our heads turn. Velma, many a young girl’s first crush, represents the questionable orientation gal which Smith has become notorious for.
There is never any mention of who Scrappy Doo or that little dude with the big hair might represent, but that is probably just an oversight.
Snopes.com lists the urban legend as false, but most people that tell it find it more amusing than a statement of fact. Like the drug legend, people just enjoy analyzing familiar things. The same thing could be done with just about any popular icon and we always seen to be able to find the one element that proves our argument. In the legend, the creator of the show is said to be from one of these colleges and he drew the idea from the show from his experiences with them.
The other appeal is feeling your school is special. The legend is most popular with students from the five schools mentioned and other schools can claim any of the characters if the read it the right way. Fred could easily be a Harvard man and stoners are seen in most colleges, from Emerson to Salem State. Some of the girls from MIT are pretty scary too…
The popularity of the Scooby Doo show breeds these comparisons. Their antics have become part of our collected conscience and entrenched in our pop culture. The characters in Buffy the Vampire Slayer referred to themselves as the Scoobies with no explanation needed and now people of that generation are beginning to pass their love of Scooby down to their children, causing a rebirth of the show. Not to mention, many of those college students are ingesting their own Scooby Snacks and watching the reruns themselves late at night on Cartoon Network.
The show was actually based on characters in several other radio and television shows that aired over the decades before its release. It has no connection to the colleges or the stereotypes which really have their foundation after the premier of the show. The urban legend is not true, but that doesn’t mean we still can’t debate it.
And what was that little dude with the funny hair’s name…