Less human than human – clowns, humanoid robots and ‘celebrities’

Coulrophobia is the fancy term for fear of clowns and when you have a housemate who is scared of clowns it is also great fun.

It is amazing just how many things in popular culture feature clowns, specifically evil clowns, which made my life very easy – ‘IT’, ‘Killjoy’, ‘Poltergeist’, even an episode of ‘The Simpsons’ where Bart is absolutely terrified of the clown bed that Homer made.

simpsons clown bed

However ‘Killer Klowns From Outer Space’ is a classic, by which I mean it terrified my housemate to the point where he couldn’t sleep… for several days. Word cannot describe the film at all, it is weird from start to finish from the cotton candy ray guns to popcorn that grows into monsters.

The thing was we didn’t ever establish why my housemate was scared of clowns, there was a vague feeling it might have been due to a creepy entertainer at a children’s birthday party.

Killer Klowns From Outer Space

I will admit to not liking clowns myself, although that is due to the “uncanny valley” thing – where the facepaint means that clown facial features look and move in a similar way to normal humans, but the non-thinking part of your brain screams at you that something is reading as not quite right.

This means you end up freaking out and being very cautious, which sounds a perfectly sane reaction when you aren’t sure of the intentions of the person prancing in front of you.

clown balloon

(Photo from balloonsoverwaikato)

Robotics professor Masahiro Mori defined the term ‘uncanny valley’ in the context of humanoid robots; when a robot doesn’t look very human you have little empathy towards it, as it looks and moves in a more human manner you start to feel more empathy. But there is a point where it is too human but not human enough and the reaction is to be repulsed (and freaked out) by it – this is the uncanny valley.

I think this theory can be extended to people who are technically human, for example extreme-body builders and people who have undergone lots and lots of (for example) cosmetic enhancements.

For example, Donald Trump – I am certainly feeling in uncanny valley territory looking at him.

Donald Trump

Jodie Marsh – similar reaction.

jodie marsh

However Arnie is actually coming out of the valley and looks almost human these days.


In short, clowns are scary, humanoid robots are scary and so are celebrities.

Copyright © WhereEvilThoughts 2013 – excluding pictures! Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to WhereEvilThoughts with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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