One of my favourite things in all the world is a confusing queer headcanon (fan theories).
I don’t remember when this started, but the 2010 Youtube short, Marcel The Shell With Shoes On, inspired my love of unlikely queer icons.
To see this grow into a full-length, Oscar-nominated film is a true joy. So what is it about this tiny little shell (and queer icon) that’s so joyful?
The original YouTube video is focused on Marcel’s ability to create a whole world out of household objects - and his desire to share that with the off-screen filmmaker.
I’ll never forget when I first heard the shell say, “Wanna know what I use as skis? Toenails from a man”. The short is charming and silly but also speaks to the relatable urge to create something from nothing - to find your own joy.
That’s an urge which is undoubtedly queer.
Throughout the film, Marcel encounters family separation, the loss of a loved one and a search for community.
These are themes are particularly resonant for many people over the last three years, but are particularly recognisable to queer communities.
In 2021, I moved 400 miles from home when many of the communities I had known felt lost.
Resilience and joy can be hard to find, but as Marcel says, “they say you need at least 20 people to make a community”. Over the course of the film, Marcel finds that community.
Earlier queer headcanons like Kirk and Spock or Buffy and Faith have allowed people to find representation where it has otherwise been lacking. That's thanks to their focus on relationships.
Marcel builds on this in different ways, focusing on identity and community.
It also offers opportunities for other types of community joy.
And like making skis out of toenails from a man, these types of queer reading and canon create a space to be both playful and useful.
They offer more than just the people in your area or the people you see on screen. They offer a way to feel ‘seen’ in a bigger, more abstract sense. To know that other people relate to the world the way you do.
I love queer headcanons, and I love that little shell for reaffirming their importance to me.
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