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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Mannequin (alternately, manikin, mannikin, manakin, dummy or lay figure). The word comes from the Dutch word manneken, literally meaning 'little man'. Mannequin is the French form.

In popular culture

Mannequins feature prominently in the early paintings of Giorgio de Chirico.

Mannequins are a common theme in horror fiction, although not nearly as common as baby dolls. While an intense, irrational fear of mannequins (known as pediophobia) is rare, many people nonetheless find them disturbing (due in part perhaps to the uncanny valley effect), especially when not fully assembled.

In "realistic" (non-supernatural) horror, the presence of mannequins or mannequin parts can be a visual cue for insanity, particularly insanity of a violent nature, as in the early Stanley Kubrick film Killer's Kiss, the climactic fight scene of which takes place in a storage room of mannequins (parts of which are used as melee weapons, and the hands of some of which feature prominently on the DVD cover). In The Silence of the Lambs, mannequin limbs are among the objects found in the killer's storage unit. In Dean Koontz's novel Velocity, a group of mutilated mannequins is found at a suspect's house, causing the protagonist (and reader) to believe the suspect to be the shark, or at least seriously disturbed. In the television series Carnivàle, the camp site of a twisted Texas back country family is strewn with mannequin parts of all sorts. There is a scene in Dead Silence where a character falls through a theatre stage into a lake filled with mannequins.

Another setting found in numerous movies is abandoned nuclear test sites consisting of entire towns populated by mannequins, creating an eerie and unsettling atmosphere. This setting appears in such films as Kalifornia, Mulholland Falls, and the 2006 remake of The Hills Have Eyes.

A theme which appears both in horror and science fiction is mannequins coming to life, usually with somewhat zombie-like attributes. A recent example is "Rose", the first episode of the current Doctor Who series, in which a vat of sentient alien plastic seeks to take over the world, using animated mannequins called Autons as its primary enforcers. The mannequins have gunlike weapons inside their hands, and there are many scenes of them smashing through shop windows and wreaking havoc in a London shopping mall. The Autons are also seen in the earlier Doctor Who episodes Spearhead from Space and Terror of the Autons.

Much more rare in fiction is a heroic or virtuous mannequin, although examples do exist. DC Comics' hero Brother Power the Geek is a mannequin brought to life by a lightning strike who gains super powers and befriends a group of 1960s hippies. His comic book series only lasted two issues. In the movie Mannequin and its sequel, the protagonist's love interest is a mannequin who magically comes to life.

British pop band Yazoo often uses mannequins on its covers, including the album Upstairs at Eric's, the hits compilation Only Yazoo, and the 1999 singles "Don't Go" and "Situation".

"Mannequin" is also a song performed by British black metal band Cradle of Filth. In the Marilyn Manson song "Tourniquet" from the 1996 album Antichrist Superstar the subject is a mannequin. The ska band Reel Big Fish's music video for "Where Have You Been?" from Cheer Up! features frontman Aaron Barrett's fictional ex portrayed as a mannequin. "Mannequin" is also the title of a pop song by Britney Spears off her 2008 album Circus. The German electronica band Kraftwerk brought the concept of a group of mannequins coming to life to their 1977 song Showroom Dummies.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Mannequin" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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