A photo of Rebecca Smith: Why people are creeped out by robots and dolls

Scary tales have long gotten mileage out of the creepiness of things like robots, dolls or clowns.

Case in point: the colorful-and-smiling yet murderous animatronics in the new movie “Five Nights at Freddy’s.” But what’s behind the idea that these seemingly wholesome, humanoid objects are hiding some sort of eerie secret?

We got the scoop from Rebecca Smith, a doctoral student in the UCLA Department of Comparative Literature who studies 16th- and 17th-century texts in Spanish, French and Nahuatl. Her research focuses on the smell of bloodshed as a religious and political tool in narratives of what has been called the Spanish conquest of Mexico.

In this installment of the UCLA College video series “Silly Questions, Smart Bruins,” Smith digs into the ultimate purpose of the horror genre, a culturally specific Nahua fear and just how many of those five nights she’d be spending at Freddy’s.

Watch other installments of “Silly Questions, Smart Bruins.”

Published October 25, 2023