What’s the deal with puppets? Are they inherently creepy or are some cultures just more into them than others? Is it something to do with their dark, dank origins — or is it something more sinister?
The answer to all of these questions may be yes. In fact, there are many different reasons why people around the world might find creepy puppets unnerving. From folklore and legend to culture and history, exploring the question “why are puppets scary” can lead you down a rabbit hole of different answers and theories. In this article, we look at why you might find creepy puppets scary, what that means for you as an individual viewer, and how you can keep yourself safe from seeing or owning content that makes you feel uncomfortable.
Why Are Puppets Creepy?
They are very much a part of our culture, and they’re very much a part of ours as well. We often think of them as just a fun, harmless way to pass the time. But they’re also a very real part of our culture. They’re often misunderstood, though. People often assume they’re all made by evil, soulless, profit-driven corporations.
And there are definitely a lot of shitty ones out there. But there are also a lot of really amazing, handmade, grassroots, non-corporate, ethically-produced ones out there as well., but it was the development of theatres and television that made the creation and broadcast of creepy puppets a regular occurrence. Puppets have often been used to illustrate social issues such as racism, cruelty to animals, and other emotions that are not easily depicted with other mediums.
Popular Culture and the Roots of Scary Puppets
Puppets have always been associated with the darker, often macabre side of human nature. The fact that many cultures have a much stronger connection with the dark side of the moon than we do may be the root of this.
Globally popular shows like Labyrinth, Dark Crystal, Sooty & Sweep and The Muppets have all featured puppets at one point or another.
Why do puppets creep me out?
There is a lot of curiosity surrounding the idea of why some people find creepy puppets scary, but there is a lot of confusion as to what exactly creeps people out about them. The best way to identify whether or not a specific piece of media might be making you feel uncomfortable is to take a look at your own reactions to it.
You’re likely going to be surprised by how often you negatively react to certain media. Some of the things that people turn to when they’re trying to understand why they might be feeling uncomfortable around puppets are:
Racism: While you might not want to put your money into the idea that all puppet shows (and other forms of media) have some form of racist undertones, it’s something to keep in mind. Pinocchio, the Disney film, has been accused of promoting racial stereotypes because of its use of Native American stereotypes.
Sexism: Traditionally, female characters have been sex objects, and puppets have often been used to represent the “other” gender. Punch & Judy shows in the UK are a case in point
Hate speech: Just because someone uses the term “puppet” about a character doesn’t mean they hate all the other things that people find scary about them.
Fear of the Dark: The Root of Scary Puppets
The concept of the fear of the dark is ancient, and there are many modern-day iterations of it. The idea that there is a dark side to everything and that we should be careful about what we wish for may have its origins in this ancient folklore.
Fear of the dark is probably the most common phobia out there, and it’s also sometimes referred to as “the dark side of the moon.” Fear of the dark can drive people crazy, but there are plenty of ways to shake it off and feel safe again. We’ll get into how to do that in a bit.
What is the phobia of puppets called?
Pupaphobia is a slight but common phobia of puppets. While coulrophobia (fear of clowns) and pediophobia (fear of dolls) are more common, pupaphobia is not.
The phobia of puppets is an irrational fear of things that are perceived to be made or controlled by puppets. There are many subcategories of this phobia, but the overall idea is that the puppets we perceive as “us” are actually puppets that we’re afraid of.
A popular example of this is “fear of the dark.” If you have anxiety or panic attacks around dark and scary things, you may be afraid that you’ll have a panic attack when you’re really not supposed to. People with this phobia might also feel repulsed or ill at ease when around people who are using puppets for entertainment.
The idea of the dark side to everything has existed for a long time, and many things that we associate with darkness and scary likely have their origins in this. Dark and scary things have often been used to represent emotions that are hard to convey with other media, such as sadness, love, and fear.
However, there are also clear benefits to being drawn to these types of things, so if you’re not comfortable with the idea of scary things, don’t worry! There is a lot of great stuff out there that you’ll love. The phobia of puppets is a relative thing, and most people can overcome it with time. The more you think about why you might be feeling uncomfortable around puppets, the more prepared you’ll be to deal with it if it happens.