Isabelle From Animal Crossing Is 2019’s Most Powerful Queer Icon
Why Do The Gays Stan A Dog With A Bell On Its Head?
Many may not know of the discerning Isabelle, famed NPC in Nintendo’s Animal Crossing franchise.
You might not even know Animal Crossing — it’s a beloved series dating back to 2001, described by Wikipedia as a social simulation video game series. In Animal Crossing, the player character is a human who lives in a village inhabited by anthropomorphic animals, carrying out various activities including fishing, bug catching, fossil hunting, etc.
Isabelle is one of those anthropomorphic animals. And she’s a queen.
Petite, accommodating, and shaded with a stunning limoncello trim, her likeness is indeed powerful — although the name may not immediately spark recognition.
“Who is she?” You may ask. An image of a peculiar little dog passed through your consciousness. A sense of wonder washes over you.
Her credentials should be obvious allow me to list them, in no particular order:
- Renowned multi-tasker
- Simply enormous head to body ratio
- Emotionally adept (allegedly)
- Incomparable CV
- Style icon
- Fabulous care-taker
Animal Crossing began with a novel introduction on the GameCube, before transforming the lives of rurally inclined homosexuals, urban planners and pre-pubescent gamer girls everywhere with four main releases.
isabelle animal crossing says trans rights!
— (@demondva) April 22, 2019
What Is Isabelle
Our lord and overseer, Isabelle, was welcomed into our midst with the advent of the Animal Crossing on the Nintendo DS. Slay!
In popular culture Isabelle has resonated with a great many gaymer, and her appearance in SSBU elicited widespread excitement (Isabelle might have finally been included in Super Smash Bros Brawl, but Cooking Mama has not because Nintendo America are scared of powerful women).
isabelle you left us in our hour of need
we barely made it out of zipper’s clutches alive isabelle
— Atelier Joshua (@joshuataipale) April 22, 2019
There is the question of her species of course — clearly her poise and spicy wardrobe, olive vest with STUNNING rose pink appliqués, overpower such rudimentary concerns — but is she, in fact, a dog, or other such domestic animal?
Or, rather, is she some kind of super-powerful homonculi, immune to our worldly rules, perhaps even part human, born of some arcane and radically twisted experiment; able to hold sway over thousands of dimensions at once within the animal crossing multiverse, capable of complex metaphysics, capable of determining nothing and everything at the same time?
Upon greeting the player as new mayor of the town (which you can name anything you like — even “bussy,” if you so wish) she is at your beck and call. Despite living in a town with a population of some 30 something animals, she is responsible for at least 80% of tasks….truly confounding!
Yet our lives would be nothing without her! Unrecognised queen! Your local political representatives are quaking! I mean, won’t somebody please help this creature!
Give us Isabelle pic.twitter.com/TI4LBVFcEi
— 𝕽𝖚𝖇𝖊𝖓 💍 (@ItsRubenCorella) April 20, 2019
I propose that this is emblematic of the overqualified modern worker — a multi-hyphenate and senseless figure chained to endless possibility and limitation in the same breath — a real cipher for millennials in the free market.
She alludes to this ridiculous workload at many points in the game too, but is so used to self-sacrificing that she palms it off disguised neatly within the sandwich of offhanded smalltalk. Sort of like….how queer millennials joke about their problems online out of powerlessness, instead of, I don’t know, unionising.
An informative video on the topic informs me she is in fact a dog, with a bell on her head — hence the name isaBELLE. That’s simply the definition of powerful bitch energy. One cannot dispute.
It’s clear her power to destroy entire worlds and remove limbs is somehow related.
Although her strange, unique and possibly Lovecraftian powers are of immediate concern, her appeal amongst the gay community is for other, less darkly violent sentiments. So I shall unpack that.
Oh, my! Sorry I was gone for a while, but it's hard to balance all my duties! The campsite certainly keeps me busy. Did I miss anything interesting here? pic.twitter.com/NlDsfyao0T
— Isabelle (@animalcrossing) April 22, 2019
Why Do The Gays Stan A Dog With A Bell On Its Head?
For one, she is understanding of the needs of the player long before they are voiced — she acts as a kind of avatar for the over-worked and under-appreciated figure in our contemporary world (not just the anthromorphic one!)
For us to feel at all safe in our atomised world, it’s required of us to practice resilience and emotional adaption in ever spare moment, every second hour of the day. You may deny it, but we must admit to this.
It means careening between mania and exhaustion: for better or for worse!
Our circumstances are constantly shifting and unpredictable, much like towns manifested in Animal Crossing! In her role as a secretary in New Leaf, (which recently won her a Grammy, academy award, a Nobel prize, various land titles in communist Cuba and instituted reparations for the oppressed across the developing world), she attends to the main playable character in a variety of ways, reminding them of their responsibilities, handling bookwork and polling her constituents on the mayors popularity.
Her responsibilities are many — a frightening reflection of the realities pink collar workers are expected to maintain! And of course, jobs like Isabelle’s are frequently dominated by women, who are expected to innately understand and process these roles without refutal. A feminist icon too!
it’s nature day in animal crossing and my girl isabelle is still standing there in her little t-shirt at 11 p fucking m GO HOME you have work tomorrow and i’m tryna build a bridge pic.twitter.com/VRJPGWCTJ2
— allergay (@twostepchicanxx) April 23, 2019
Jennifer Pan has the tea on this particular subject:
“Publicity, like all emotional labor, is gruelling and mostly thankless work. This year, PR ranked fifth on CareerCast’s annual list of the ten most stressful jobs in the US (coming in not far after military personnel and firefighters). Publicists work long days, often putting in eight hours or more at the office, then overseeing events or attending networking functions in the evenings, which can skew their hourly earnings below minimum wage, especially for entry-level employees….
In times of recession, when jobs disappear, these affective requirements tend to intensify. Time magazine recently highlighted a study in which a number of employers cited millennials’ lack of ‘soft skills’ as the cause for youth unemployment, but as Demos blogger Matt Bruenig pointed out, these are precisely the stringent standards that employers can ask for when the labor supply is in abundance.”
Quiz time! Quiz time! Find the eggs before they're mine! Can you spot all the bunny-day eggs in this picture? Look high, low, near, and far to see how many eggs there are! Alrighty, campers! How many bunny-day eggs are in this picture? pic.twitter.com/j7P0aQxh0Q
— Isabelle (@animalcrossing) April 16, 2019
The Millennial Anarchist
Isabelle speaks to a millennial anarchist sentiment.
She is but a willing cog in an arduously unflinching society, and must attend to the prospects of her world, while simultaneously facilitate healthy social habits on top of it all. But one finds it impossible to do when work and contemporary life drains you so.
As a wise woman once said: I’m baby.
There’s cognitive real estate which is left occupied when one should be focused on re-eenergising — in 2019, such mental space is becoming expensive mama, as we are expected to sublimate our thoughts into content for social media companies in off peak hours.
The promise of connection is tied to our success at playing these games, whether we like it or not. Isabelle’s exhaustion is this a timely insight into a generational feeling — it’s #relatable. Napping on the job? Accidentally killed God? Lesbian road trip!
Our lives may superficially reflect our childhood aspirations, for independence and security — but the slow erosion of workers rights, casualisation and commodity culture now play into the back of our subconscious.
Milennials are either unrepentantly horny or stripped of their sexual agency and energy. Mental space to categorise our various responsibilities is always running short. That’s why we have to get our rocks off in hasty and opportune moments, like Isabelle tries to in her gender ambiguous crushing – hashtag “pansexualthot”
in my dream last night, i overheard isabelle from animal crossing threatening to kill everyone by saying that she was going to “turn everyone’s fists red with blood.”
— 🐙 kyouko 🐙 (@kyoukokirgiri) April 22, 2019
The Animal Crossing wiki elaborates thus:
“Like many other secretaries, she can be hard on herself when she is side-tracked, and as a compulsive workaholic, she neglects her physical health in the name of her occupation. Isabelle has shown sides of gratitude and affection to the player, especially on Valentine’s Day and is even hinted on having a crush on the player regardless of gender.” (!)
Nonetheless, there is a lightness in her delivery, and an urgency in her speech.
Hillary Clinton has been found dead.
Even though she has devoted herself to the inescapability of her reality she maintains optimism in a better horizon.
“Make this town better”, she begs the player, erecting a suspiciously socialist rose insignia flag above the town hall. She knows that to do the best requires being ahead of the curve and putting others needs before our own, even during times of hardship. It is often the kindest people who are tasked with these roles and go unrecognised.
But today we say, Thank you Isabelle, you good bitch, Thank you for fighting for our country…….
Jonno Revanche is a renowned shitposter and very serious cultural critic that contributes regularly to SBS, Teen Vogue, Krass Journal and The Guardian.