LOS ANGELES – Standing in front of the posters for Child’s Play and Annabelle Comes Home at her local movie theater, Penny, a possessed doll and working actor, is unable to contain her anger at how the entertainment industry continues to portray her demographic.
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked to read for the villain in a horror movie,” Penny said, shaking her articulated head in disgust. “Sometimes they try to placate me, telling me I’ll be playing a complex anti-hero, but as soon as they ask me if my molded hand is capable of holding a full size butcher knife, I know exactly what they’re expecting.”
Penny, whose full name is Pretty Penny, is possessed by the spirit of Ida Jones, a housewife and part-time bookkeeper who died in 1994. Penny has a masters degree in theater studies from Northwestern University and is a trained Shakespearean actor, but she knows when casting agents look at her, all they see is a tiny killing machine.
“We’re never going to move forward as a society until we start accepting that fiction creates and perpetuates harmful stereotypes,” Penny said, before briefly excusing herself to change the batteries that power her high pitched electronic voice. “I bet you didn’t know possessed dolls are statistically far more likely to be the victims of crime than the perpetrators. A lot of us are valuable collector’s items. But that doesn’t fit into the lazy narrative Hollywood is selling.”
“I really hoped things were changing,” she said. “I mean, the Toy Story franchise has been so successful at demonstrating that a series about sentient playthings doesn’t need to rely on horror tropes, but sadly that hasn’t translated into more non-horror roles for us. And frankly, the fact that none of the characters in those movies have been voiced by an actual living toy is its own issue.”
When asked if part of the blame falls on possessed dolls who continue to take horror roles and perpetuate harmful stereotypes, Penny makes it clear she doesn’t judge. “We all gotta pay rent. I don’t blame dolls who take these roles out of desperation. Do you have any idea how much replacement parts cost if you’re a limited edition from the nineties? No, I blame the system for exploiting that desperation.”
Going forward, Penny hopes audiences will start to reject movies about possessed dolls on murderous rampages and start supporting movies about possessed dolls coaching inner city sports teams to victory, helping racists overcome their bigotry, and taking down large industrial polluters.