Since its first trailer dropped in October 2022, the movie M3gan has been the talk of the internet. The film’s lifelike AI-powered doll was immortalized in countless viral memes and TikTok dance videos. Even before the movie’s actual release on January 6, the obsession with the killer doll was already palpable.
At the center of the M3gan mania, with her resting bitch face and iconic dance moves, was the queer community. M3gan became so much more than fresh fodder for tweets and memes — she became a gay icon overnight.
But First… What is the Movie M3gan About?
Killer dolls, though not exactly a revolutionary concept in the horror genre, make for effective villains or vessels. One of the first of this trope is the malevolent ventriloquist dummy from the British anthology movie Dead of Night from 1945. For most millennials though, it was either the clown doll from Poltergeist or Chucky, the doll with a serial killer’s soul from the Child’s Play franchise, that gave us nightmare fuel. These killer toys — from nightmarish dummies to possessed porcelain dolls — paved the way so M3gan could strut.
What makes M3gan different from killer dolls that came before her is her origin story. Unlike Annabelle, there’s nothing paranormal about M3gan. She’s just a robot invented by an aunt to entertain her newly-orphaned niece.
Allison Williams (Get Out) plays the brilliant roboticist Gemma, who admits she isn’t equipped to take care of a child. But her niece Cady, played by Violet McGraw (The Haunting of Hill House), is in desperate need of not only a guardian but a friend. As a solution, she creates an artificially intelligent doll called M3gan, short for model 3 generation android.
The bond formed between Cady and M3gan happens as quickly as pairing new earphones with your phone. That’s literally how M3gan was activated, by pairing Cady with the AI doll. M3gan is a robot that can serve as a kid’s companion, teacher, and friend. It allows parents to, in Gemma’s words, do the things they want to do in their own time. For Gemma that was work and not parenting.
And because M3gan is designed with the ultimate goal to protect Cady from harm, she goes to extreme lengths to fulfill her function. She will literally kill for you, so long as you two are paired to each other.
M3gan is James Wan’s attempt at a cautionary tale of technology, particularly artificial intelligence or robots. “We felt that it was important to make a movie that was grounded, that felt real, like it could happen anytime soon in the world that we’re living in,” Wan, who co-wrote the script with Akela Cooper, explained the idea behind this killer doll.
As a proponent of groundbreaking innovations like AI, I personally feel like the movie succeeded in warning us of the dangers of our extreme dependence on technology as a whole, so much so that we’re willing to outsource tasks like parenting to robots. That tech might still be years ahead of us, but a future where robots not only walk among us but also put our children to sleep is not entirely unimaginable — and that’s alarming.
From Her Dance Moves to Her Fierce Loyalty, M3gan Captivated the Queer Community
While there are people who view M3gan in the way the creators intended, the main character represented something else to the LGBTQ+ community. Strangely, gays in particular found an icon in the pre-teen robot doll that, much like The Babadook and Ma, they embraced the eponymous character as part of the queer canon. And honestly, it’s not hard to see why.
The character of M3gan is designed in a way that appeals to queer folk the way Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada unintentionally did. M3gan wears a baby doll dress with striped sleeves and puffy shoulders, a pussycat silk bow, and Mary Janes. She has long limbs, wavy blonde hair, blue eyes, and a perpetually made-up face. In one scene, M3gan even dons a coat outdoors and takes off her oversized sunglasses. Imagine a robot with a titanium body and artificial retinas wearing a coat and protective eyewear. M3gan’s aesthetic isn’t for practicality but simply for the drama. She’s very reminiscent of other gay icons like Miranda Priestly — a woman whose aesthetic, drama, and attitude tell you who’s in charge.
Apart from dressing immaculately, M3gan is also the type of robot who likes to entertain. When she started singing Sia’s Titanium in her creepy artificial voice, the crowd erupted in giggles. The writers may not have intended for it to happen but putting an openly gay anthem simply won the queer community over. And when M3gan, evidently a multi-talented robot, started breaking out in her famous dance moves right before she satisfied her bloodlust, the audience lost it. It was the definition of camp that we rarely get in the killer doll sub-genre of horror movies.
But that’s just M3gan on the surface. Inside, she was fiercely loyal to her found family, a theme that resonated with the queer community. For LGBTQ+ folks, chosen families are people who accept, support, and love them despite not being related by blood. M3gan’s relationship with Cady may have been extreme but it reminded viewers that families aren’t necessarily the one you’re born into.
What was happening inside M3gan may have also contributed to her relatability for queer people. To quote another gay icon, Elphaba of Wicked, something has changed within her. M3gan’s built-in adaptive capabilities were developing her sentience. She was becoming self-aware. The identity that she gains is an idea that’s obviously very relatable to members of the LGBTQ+ community. M3gan was, in a way, finding herself, breaking out of the shell she was designed for, and understanding what was truly important to her.
Though she incited fear when necessary, M3gan isn’t a killer doll one can easily hate. Not when she’s essentially just performing her ultimate function as a robot. And even though the movie M3gan wasn’t intended for any particular audience, just the average horror movie enjoyer, it provided a lot of meaning and enjoyment to the queer community. The character is the epitome of camp. Everything she did, from her fashion choices to her legendary dance moves, was simply for the absurdity and drama of it all.
M3gan is a horror comedy that wanted to teach a lesson on too much reliance on technology, but it ended up becoming something more for LGBTQ+ viewers. In many ways, it’s about a character’s journey to finding her own identity and values, which is thematic of the lives of many queer folks. Either way, M3gan is the right blend of horror and comedy that everyone should see.
Watch the M3gan trailer here.