The Museum of Hoaxes
hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive
   
Death-Threat Elmo
Back in January 2006 I posted about a "Who Wants To Die" Talking Elmo book. When the book's buttons were pressed, the book said, "Who wants to die?" It was supposed to say, "Who wants to try to go potty?" (I'm not sure which is worse.)

Now another Elmo is in the news for making bizarre death threats. TBO.com reports:

A Lithia family says a cuddly, programmable Elmo doll revealed its dark side yesterday after fresh batteries were installed.
Instead of singing songs or reciting the favorite color of its 2-year-old owner, James Bowman, the doll started making death threats, the family says.
With a squeeze of its fuzzy belly, the Sesame Street character now says, in a sing-song voice, "Kill James." "It's not something that really you would think would ever come out of a toy," said Melissa Bowman, James' mother. "But once I heard, I was just kind of distraught."

This is how the robot war begins.
Technology
Posted by The Curator on Wed Feb 27, 2008
What are the chances that a random malfuntion, or even a prank from someone in a factory would happen to make the elmo say the name of the little boy that owned it? I am thinking this family is hurting for cash and wants a lawsuit
Posted by tim  on  Wed Feb 27, 2008  at  12:54 PM
I agree with Tim... I'm positively sure the doll KNOWS the boy's name.
Posted by Jackie  on  Wed Feb 27, 2008  at  03:29 PM
When they changed the batteries, they forgot to make sure the switch was set to "good" and not to "evil" before giving it to the child.
Posted by Christopher Cole  in  Tucson, AZ  on  Wed Feb 27, 2008  at  07:48 PM
It's very possible that the toy simply malfunctioned, and uttered a bunch of gibberish - which the family chose to interprit as "kill James"
Misinterpritation happens all the time - put a bunch of people into a room with someone who doesn't speak good English and has a heavy accent, then ask people what this foreign person said.. I guarantee you'll get a whole range of different answers.
Same thing happens when people see images that 'aren't there' - like the whole Jesus or Mary in a tree thing. I know I sure as heck can't see what they think is there sometimes..
Posted by sarahearth  in  New Zealand  on  Wed Feb 27, 2008  at  10:25 PM
Apparently one the features of this particular elmo doll is that you teach him the childs name and he learns other phrases by being hooked up to the computer. So that explains him knowing the childs name:

http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2658707

He does seem to be saying it to me heres a video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPQIeiGojkk
Posted by Tim  on  Thu Feb 28, 2008  at  01:40 AM
I think I might know that family. Not personally...but the names are super familiar. If it is who I think it is...I wouldn't doubt it's a scam on their part. It IS a programmable toy after all.
Posted by Maegan  in  Tampa, FL - USA  on  Thu Feb 28, 2008  at  10:47 AM
I didn't notice that it was programmable - I've never seen that one before.
... thats just sad. Complaining about a phrase being said by a programmable toy.. if it's programmable, why not just make it unlearn the phrase?! Surely there's an easy way to do that! Talk about people trying to make quick money.. That reminds me of stories like the woman who slipped over in a restaurant on a drink she spilled herself and then sued the restaurant over it..
Posted by sarahearth  in  New Zealand  on  Thu Feb 28, 2008  at  03:04 PM
We already knew Bert was evil. Now Elmo too....

I say it's the spirit of Jim Henson posessing them.
Posted by LaMa  in  Europe  on  Fri Feb 29, 2008  at  02:35 AM
That Elmo with the talking pizza is a lot creepier. That pizza is going to give me nightmares.

A lot of people on youtube pointed out it sounded like Elmo was saying "Tell James" not "Kill James." I heard tell James.
Posted by Sakano  in  Ohio  on  Fri Feb 29, 2008  at  10:58 AM
I also heard "tell James." Why would you assume it's saying kill? I would just think the thing was broken and that would be the end of it.
Posted by Comstock  on  Fri Feb 29, 2008  at  03:51 PM
I don't think the family scammed this, because if you read what is going on, they arent even thinking about a lawsuit or money, they just want another Elmo doll because theirs malfunctioned. And whether Elmo said "kill" or "tell" all that matters is that their extremely young son is saying "Kill James", which is what he heard from Elmo, and as every parent would more than likely agree, that if he hears kill james, then it must go.
Posted by Krista  in  Virginia  on  Tue Mar 11, 2008  at  03:53 PM
Commenting is no longer available in this channel entry.
All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.