McDonald’s new mascot has been frightening peoples everywhere for nearly a month now, but food culture site Foodiggity has found a new way for the erroneously named “Happy” to terrify audiences. They’ve photoshopped the unsettling, anthropomorphic happy meal box into scenes from classic horror films, all of which it fits a little too perfectly in.
The pictures show Happy replacing a serial killer ominously silhouetted behind a shower curtain from Psycho, a demon in a mirror from The Ring, and a massive shark looming towards a swimmer from Jaws amongst several other great scenes.
The joke was seemingly inevitable after the backlash Happy received on social media. According to Bloomberg, the tweet that debuted Happy has gotten such responses as “What the f— is that creature?” “THAT! is scary!” and “I think I’m going to have nightmares.” McDonald’s also posted a video of Happy on its Facebook page, which, in turn, received equal backlash. Some of its comments included “I regret watching this,” “Epic fail,” and “This makes me crave Burger King.”
“This is a simple piece of artwork on a clean background – something that could easily be edited, the term ‘meme’ comes to mind,” says Tom Ajello, Founder of Makeable. “Mcdonald’s themselves have even been jumping in on some of the fun – I believe they intended on creating something ‘playable’ that could be passed around and people could have fun with. If McDonald’s had involved more interaction – perhaps a meme generator – they could have taken advantage of this situation more. I hope they still have something up their sleeve.”
McDonalds intended for Happy to promote healthier eating habits to children. According to the company, he was supposed to bring more fun and excitement to kids’ meals that included more nutritious foods like fruits, vegetables, and milk instead of burgers and soda.
So what went wrong with the design though? Why are people so frightened of a box with heavy-lidded, bulging eyes and a cheshire grin full of too human teeth?
Perhaps if McDonalds had heard of the Uncanny Valley, they would’ve known to head back to the drawing board. It’s an idea that people won’t necessarily respond positively to things that are more humanlike. Logically, the more humanlike a character is, the more comfortable people should feel about them. Essentially, parts of the brain respond to the humanlike appearance, and think it’s safe, while others recognize it as dangerous. This impasse that the brain comes to is known as the Uncanny Valley (because of how it looks on a graph), and helps explain why things creep us out.
It’s as if a clown wasn’t a creepy enough mascot as is.