Voldemort is not Creepy

Voldemort, Creepy?

Volde­mort, Creepy?

This post start­ed as a din­ner table con­ver­sa­tion.  I don’t find Volde­mort creepy.  He’s ugly, evil, mani­a­cal, and nasty, but just not creepy.  My wife argued that he’s creepy because he has no nose.  This point actu­al­ly stemmed from my ear­li­er post regard­ing every­one hav­ing rec­tums — or that some peo­ple may be rec­tal­ly chal­lenged (I assume this is the case).  She believed that every­one had a nose.  I point­ed out this was­n’t true… there’s Volde­mort.  She respond­ed that he was just creepy and did­n’t count.

And there start­ed the argu­ment.  Volde­mort has some creepy ele­ments … his skin and his miss­ing nose, but the remain­der of his demeanor does­n’t sell the part.  We can com­pare this with some­thing I would put for­ward as a real­ly creepy part — the gen­tle­men mon­sters in Buffy the Vam­pire Slay­er’s Hush episode.  They did­n’t just have one creepy ele­ment, every­thing about them was supreme­ly creepy.

Creepy Gentlemen

Creepy Gen­tle­men from Buffy The Vam­pire Slay­er’s “Hush”

They have creepy skin; they have creepy expres­sions; they do creepy things; they’re silent (very creepy); they take away your voic­es (creepy) so that you can’t kill them (they are only killed by noise — which is creepy); they do that British clap-clap thing (silent­ly, more creepy); they have creepy hunch­back hench­men (not pic­tured); and they have that oh-so-creepy per­ma­nent smile expres­sion.  In fact, Buffy’s “Hush” episode is the creepi­est 42 min­utes of tele­vi­sion I’ve ever watched.  I high­ly rec­om­mend both the “Hush” episode and the Buffy series in gen­er­al.  Very much a foun­da­tion­al geek series.

Creepy is more about how a char­ac­ter acts than specif­i­cal­ly how a char­ac­ter looks.  I find invari­ably that actors best at por­tray­ing creepy char­ac­ters do not always (or even often) do so.  Jim Carey’s per­for­mance in “The Mask” was very creepy, but many of his oth­er per­for­mances did­n’t include any creep fac­tor.  Creepi­ness is not doing the oppo­site of nor­mal — it’s doing some­thing almost nor­mal, but def­i­nite­ly not right.


Snape — Creepy!

In the Har­ry Pot­ter series, I find the Snape char­ac­ter much more creepy. I must con­fess that I have not read the books and, as my wife points out, I don’t know if Snape falls in the good or the bad sec­tion.  For the pur­pos­es of this dis­cus­sion, it does­n’t mat­ter. Char­ac­ters can be creepy-good or they can be creepy-evil.  Creepy is an uncom­fort­able vibe, not an align­ment.

I chose a fair­ly bland pho­to­graph of Snape here to com­pare well with the Volde­mort pic­ture above.  Even in this pic­ture, he’s creepy.  What’s he hid­ing under that cape?  His cape is even creepy.  He’s stand­ing so the shot looks up at him (creepy) and he’s always got that aloof “I know things you will nev­er know” look (creepy).  He’s also got the qui­et sneek-into-a-scene and scare every­one down pat (great creepy skill).  Snape is just Creepy.

Before the great holy heck of Har­ry fan­dom comes down to light my blog on fire and roast marsh­mal­lows, I take care to point out that while some super-vil­lains are creepy, being creepy isn’t a require­ment for a great super-vil­lain… or for that mat­ter a great nemesis.

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17 Responses to Voldemort is not Creepy

  1. Very inter­est­ing web­site, you have to improve your site graphics

  2. bukmacher says:

    I think you got tal­ent in writ­ing posts. Wait­ing for more posts

  3. dgilbert says:

    new posts every day (except when my day real­ly sucks!)

  4. Aimee says:

    An inter­est­ing, but nonethe­less impor­tant dis­tinc­tion. I, per­son­al­ly, do not find Volde­mort creepy either — evil, yes … dis­turb­ing, even … absolute­ly. Creepi­ness is some­thing that is hard to quan­ti­fy, but I like your com­ment about doing some­thing “not quite right”. 

    Creepi­ness is often con­tributed to by cir­cum­stances — for exam­ple, I might be more like­ly to find some­one creepy if they are seem­ing­ly fol­low­ing me (even if they aren’t) on a desert­ed path. The same per­son in a well-lit store sur­round­ed by peo­ple may not be creepy at all.

    I find some­times if dif­fer­ent peo­ple have a dif­fer­ent sense of “creepy” it can be very dif­fi­cult to explain. I’ve often won­dered if this was a gen­der thing, because I have often been in a sit­u­a­tion where I am com­par­ing this “creepy vibe” thing with my col­leagues, both of whom are men (I am not a man). In my job (as a vet­eri­nar­i­an) I some­times have to come in on-call when the clin­ic is oth­er­wise emp­ty (some­times creepy in itself, since it’s “not quite right” that no one else is there) and meet with a client over an emer­gency with their ani­mal. I have been creeped out by a few of those sit­u­a­tions, but sub­se­quent­ly found it impos­si­ble to ade­quate­ly por­tray to my col­leagues why I was creeped out. Both of them claim to not under­stand what creepy means. Clear­ly this is not all men, so per­haps I will pro­vide this expla­na­tion and see if any clar­i­ty can be achieved.

    • dgilbert says:

      Hrm. Defin­ing creepy. Sounds like a blog post.

      Not quite right but not def­i­nite­ly wrong, either? I might start by ref­er­enc­ing recent Dr. Who. There’s an episode set in “The Library” … you know the library so big that it deserves the def­i­nite arti­cle? It’s a whole plan­et. They did­n’t do jus­tice to the scale of the library in the show, but it was a won­der­ful exam­ple of creep … of being not quite right.

      The mon­ster for the show was one that could only exist in a shad­ow. Obvi­ous­ly light is a weapon, but not a good one when it’s bat­tery pow­ered. These mon­sters would eat a per­son leav­ing only the bones picked clean and were likened to the things you were scared about in your bed­room when you were a kid. Lots of creep. Con­sid­er eat­ing every­thing but the skele­ton — real creep. Not a pile of bones — like some­thing ate the per­son “nor­mal­ly” … it was a prop­er­ly arranged skele­ton. It’s not quite right that some­thing exists only the shad­ows — you can’t ever see it.

      If some­thing is wrong, it’s not creepy. If some­thing is right, it’s not creepy… it’s that periphery.

      Con­sid­er also my post’s exam­ple: “Hush” … if you havn’t watched it, you should. It pret­ty much stands on it’s own … you don’t require a lot of Buffy­ol­o­gy to “get it.” Short­ly after the start of the show, every­one’s voice is tak­en away (bot­tled up, if I remem­ber). This is because a scream is the only way to destroy the gen­tle­men. This is def­i­nite­ly “not quote right” … but also “not quite wrong” in that the scoobys (affec­tion­ate term for the Buffy team) are not imme­di­ate­ly even imperiled.

      The gen­tle­men — impec­ca­bly dressed. Smil­ing. Polite, even, as they cut out your heart. But the smile is not quite right and their skin is blue (not quite right) and their Polite­ness is full of saccharine.

  5. yoda says:


  6. Eh says:

    I always thought Ralph Fiennes had a very empa­thet­ic look­ing face. Which makes his cast­ing a lit­tle awk­ward to me. I think it may be his eye­brows or his eyes, but I feel like he nat­u­ral­ly looks kind of inno­cent or even hap­py. Not men­ac­ing or intim­i­dat­ing. Like the char­ac­ter he played in the Con­stant Gar­den­er, where you just feel sym­pa­thy for him. My girl­friend, how­ev­er, does not agree with me on this. She thinks the exact opposite.

  7. ann kristin says:

    synes Volde­mort er litt sexy jeg da.….men d er vel bare meg… 🙂 🙂

  8. ann kristin says:

    det skulle stå: ! Synes Volde­mort er litt sexy jeg da … .. men d er vel bare meg.… 🙂

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  10. Emily says:

    Actu­al­ly, Volde­mort does have a nose, it is just deformed and dis­fig­ured due to cre­at­ing so many horcruxes.
    I don’t find Volde­mort creepy either. Whats creepy are those things from Buffy that you put a pic­ture of haha.

  11. FC360 says:

    I don’t find Volde­mort creepy, those guys from that buffy episode are so creepy it’s unbe­liev­able this makes me want to watch the episode. Snape is kin­da creepy but after read­ing all the books I feel sor­ry for him 🙁

    • dgilbert says:

      I actu­al­ly high­ly rec­om­mend that episode of Buffy. Not only that, I would say the entire series is worth watch­ing. I did­n’t watch Buffy when it was on — the sheer stu­pid­i­ty of the movie and the utter like­li­hood that main­stream TV could make a real­ly, real­ly BAD Buffy. But Joss Wead­on is not main­stream TV… he’s above that… and so is Buffy. There’s a rea­son it’s a cult clas­sic and it stands the test of time. It’s good stuff.

      That episode in par­tic­u­lar is quite spe­cial. Joss (appar­ent­ly) had to fight for it. The weak­ness of the gen­tle­men is a scream, so they silence every­one before they begin their work. This means that more than half the episode is pre­sent­ed in silence (it’s appar­ent­ly one of the only shows to have ever done this. And when you watch it, you’ll real­ize the “creep” fac­tor is x10 because of it.

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  13. RedDog Yanovsky says:

    Severus Tobias Snape is NOT creepy. I’m sor­ry, I’m try­ing not to be rude here… If you haven’t read the books (or watched HP and the Death­ly Hal­lows Part 2, obvi­ous­ly), you can’t pos­si­bly even try to say Snape is “creepy”. Volde­mort on the oth­er hand is more creepy than all the oth­er char­ac­ters com­bined. He wants to rule the world, he wants to kill Har­ry Pot­ter, he can’t love because he was con­ceived under the effects of a love potion AND because he nev­er had moth­er­ly love in his life. He want­ed to hurt lit­tle kids when he was a young boy. He is will­ing to kill off all of his fol­low­ers if they dis­obey, irri­tate, or dis­turb him in any way. He wants to kill all mug­gles, all mug­gle-borns, and every witch and wiz­ard who has even a tiny con­nec­tion with any­thing mug­gle (even though he him­self is a half-blood). So don’t be say­ing Lord Volde­mort, Tom Rid­dle, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, You-Know-Who, the Dark Lord, is not creepy. Because he IS. Also, he looks like that (no nose, white skin, no hair, hor­ri­ble nails, ect.) because his body was destroyed when he first tried to kill Har­ry Pot­ter. Of course, he comes back, and now the body he has isn’t the same body he had before. Nice and sim­ple. Just want­ed to clear that up. Tootles!

    • dgilbert says:

      Wow… some year old con­tro­ver­sy on the Blog! That’s cool.

      How­ev­er, you miss the mean­ing of creepy. Creepy are the items that pass the norms of social dis­course, but only by the mar­gins. Real­ly good creepy can involve an almost nor­mal char­ac­ter try­ing to be more nor­mal, but miss­ing the mark earnest­ly in a way that makes you feel uneasy or unsure of it’s intent. The gen­tle­men, sim­i­lar­ly, are try­ing to be more “nor­mal” … but miss­ing the mark in a creepy way due to a fun­da­men­tal dis­con­nect with real­i­ty that does­n’t allow them to under­stand or be nor­mal. Noth­ing in what you say refutes this position.

      Equal­ly, Volde­mort isn’t creepy because he tries too hard. Absolute­ly each of those items you men­tion are often hall­marks of creepy char­ac­ters, but the part is played as trag­ic rather than creepy. To be trag­ic and creepy, you tend to get “Igor” or “Hunch­back” like char­ac­ters. Because Volde­mort is strong­ly trag­ic, his fea­tures tend towards a par­o­dy of creepy rather than creepy.

      As a side note, you might also want to start with a def­i­n­i­tion and then work points towards show­ing your the­sis proven by tick­ing off the items of the def­i­n­i­tion: that’s a good way to attack this type of discussion.

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