The Babadook is a psychological horror film from 2014 about a single mother who has lost her husband and is left dealing with her son and his fear of a monster in the house. She soon realizes there is a sinister spirit in the home.
If you attended the 2019 Pride parade in Victoria or the student climate strike in front of the BC Legislature, you may have been confused by the presence of a nine foot tall Babadook puppet straight out of the horror film.
Teale Phelps Bondaroff, a Saanich-based researcher and activist, built the puppet and wears it like a backpack at events. The puppet is one of several created for the Saanich-Gulf Islands NDP party, he explained. There’s also a rainbow unicorn – inspired by the television show Adventure Time – that takes five people to operate.
Phelps Bondaroff originally built the Babadook for the Pride parade because the monster has become a gay icon. Legend has it that when the horror film came to Netflix, it was labelled as LGBTQ. No such themes were seen in the movie, he explained. Viewers then decided that the monster itself must be gay.
Phelps Bondaroff thought that with its reputation as an LGBTQ icon, the “black monstrosity” would fit in at Pride and would contrast well with the colourful decorations. He then decided to bring the monster to the climate strike too.
“It breaks up the sight-lines and the esthetic of protests,” Phelps Bondaroff said. “Plus, adults don’t get it.”
The construction took about 30 hours and the homemade puppet was created from hockey sticks, old election signs and other reclaimed supplies. The unique expression of activism is something Phelps Bondaroff wants to encourage. He’d love to see more puppets at events and is happy to lend a hand in construction.
Where will Babadook pop up next? Phelps Bondaroff isn’t sure. However, he noted as long as there’s no rain – the puppet gets heavy when wet – Babadook will continue to march in the Pride parades.