Kitsch Collection

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If the characters enter the house of an elderly neighbor or relative, they will inevitably find a hundred unblinking, soulless eyes belonging to... a collection of porcelain unicorns, a room full of Sad Clown paintings, or a much stranger collection. Adding to the creepy factor will be the impeccable condition of the display, the sheer craftsmanship of the figures/displays, and the owner's utter devotion and Encyclopaedic Knowledge of every item's history.

This elderly woman (though some men and young people, Otaku in particular, are depicted as having such collections) will usually create the collection to pass the time and fight the loneliness of a life removed from the joys of family, or as a symptom of oncoming senility. This curious collector will usually see her modest collection grow from a shelf to a bookcase to a Trophy Room, or even fill her entire house with this kitsch. The collection is usually harmless, rarely ever becoming as outright creepy as the Stalker Shrine, but it can be cause for concern regardless.

The collection itself will be a big source of comfort and Pride for the owner, which makes it a prime target for threats and coercion. If a character wants to persuade her to do something, he just threatens the porcelain puppy. If he wants to sweet-talk her, he'll compliment the miniature moose. And of course, if children are about or a statue gets broken, things will get much worse.

Needless to say, this trope is based on Real Life. If you have examples, please put them on Troper Tales. Note that in Real Life, there may be a Values Dissonance; back in the 1930s, collecting figurines was both a status symbol and a symbol of femininity. The little old lady who has 300 figurines may not be pathetically lonely, she is following a tradition of her childhood.

Examples of Kitsch Collection include:


Film[edit | hide | hide all]

  • In the film About Schmidt, Warren Schmidt's wife, Helen, collects little Hummel figurines, to Warren's displeasure. Later in the film Warren visits a museum full of them and has to admit they aren't all so bad. Warren and Helen are both in their late 60s, and Helen is depicted as grandmotherly, though technically not a grandmother.
  • In Falling Down, William Foster's mother has such a collection. When the police were interviewing her to try and see where her rampaging son might go next, she was incredibly nervous because she felt that William might kill her and wouldn't say anything. The lead detective dramatically calmed her down just by asking which figurine was her favorite, guessing that it was a dog (it was the giraffe).
  • Deconstructed in Up - Carl has to learn to let go of it all in order to move on.

Literature[edit | hide]

  • In Charlotte McLeod's novel Exit The Milkman, one of the characters has a huge collection of porcelain.
  • Annie Wilkes from Stephen King's Misery has a collection like this, and she knows how they're exactly placed.
    • See also Nettie Cobb and her carnival glass in Needful Things. She tolerated her husband's abuse for many years, but when he smashed one of her pieces she took his life.
    • Also, a short story in Everything's Eventual about a guy who collected Graffiti.
    • Also, Kirstie Carver in The Regulators collects Hummel figurines. Her goal in life is to design one that looks like her Spoiled Brat son.
  • Miss Flitworth in Reaper Man has one.
    • As does Nanny Ogg, but in a subversion of this trope, she uses it as a means of extortion towards her numerous relatives. To clarify: if you travel off somewhere, you had best bring back a stunning gift for her, or your portrait is moved to a less favorable place. Nanny Ogg has a very extended family, extremely prone to infighting which Nanny encourages as a pastime, and they will know and will take advantage of how favorably Nanny regards you.
    • Stanley from Going Postal kept pins, and later became one of the disc's first stamp collectors. This was a frequently used method of calming him down.
  • Professor Dolores Umbridge: in Harry Potter has a collections of plates with kittens of them in her office. Harry doesn't like them in the least.
  • In River of Dancing Gods, the wizard Throckmorton P. Ruddygore has a massive collection of kitsch that he considers underappreciated art.
  • In Paper Towns, Radar's parents have the world's largest collection of black Santas. Radar (and presumably his parents) are black, but Radar is understandably hesitant to bring his girlfriend over to meet his parents and see his house.

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Sylar's adoptive mother in Heroes collected snowglobes, and she definitely was more than a little cuckoo.
  • In an episode of The Suite Life of Zack and Cody it is revealed that Arwin's mother collects owls.
  • People with these kinds of collections (or more sinister variations) occasionally appear as characters on Scare Tactics. One notable episode had a particularly deranged doll collector.
  • The League of Gentlemen - "Do not touch the precious things of the shop!"
  • Sandy Ryerson from Glee has a doll collection. Sue doesn't like it:

Sue: Well, isn't this just lovely and normal. [...] Boy, the only thing missing from this place is a couple dozen bodies, limed and rotting in shallow grades under the floorboards.

  • Oddities. Kind of the point of the show.
  • The entire Bitchin' Kitchen is decorated with porcelain and chrome baby dolls and skulls. Lampshaded when Nadia goes on about her grandmother's creepy collection of figurines while the camera zooms into the set behind her.

Theater[edit | hide]

  • In Tennessee Williams' play The Glass Menagerie, Laura, a young, introverted woman who is shy due to a physical disfigurement, is obsessed with her collection of glass animals.
  • In Christopher Durang's parody of The Glass Menagerie, For Whom The Southern Belle Tolls a character collects glass swizzle sticks.

Music[edit | hide]

  • In the video for the Vocaloid song "Fear Garden," Rin Kagamine collects people's hands (that she has severed from her living friends/family/fellow Vocaloids) and puts them in a garden as flowers.

Video Games[edit | hide]

Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • In Problem Sleuth, Nervous Broad has a collection of "fancy Santas".
  • Variation: In Homestuck, John's dad is obsessed with clowns harlequins. The house is covered with harlequin pictures and, yes, figurines. He was given a restraining order by the cast of Cirque du Soleil. Rose's mum, on the other hand, is obsessed with wizards (or at least pretends to be, it's mentioned she hates them almost as much as Rose does, but collects them anyways because it pisses Rose off). Dave's brother was recently revealed to have a collection of puppets, though this time, Dave actually likes it. Sometimes.
    • Also, it's recently been revealed that Mr. Egbert is only collecting the "harlequins" because John is the one who was obsessed with them. His dad actually doesn't care for them that much. Maybe.
    • Jade's grandfather's vast collection of hunt trophies also qualifies.
  • Angel Moxie has Mrs. Merriweather, a cutesy Misplaced Kindergarten Teacher who is actually an evil demon who genuinely loves kitsch, in fact Alex beats her when her house is destroyed mid battle and she realised she no longer has her Precious Moments collection.
  • In Hanna Is Not a Boy's Name, Ples really likes clocks.

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • On King of the Hill, Hank's mom, Tilly, and her elderly friends are obsessed with getting to see a glass miniatures museum. It turns out Tilly is obsessed with them because they were the only thing that made her feel better during her divorce from Hank's father. Hank then realizes what a big deal it is to her, he apologizes for dismissing her interest in them by buying her a miniature of a stadium in a walnut shell by the famous artist she had been admiring. While the episode is touching, the obsession is still shown as a sign that Tilly is mentally fragile (all her friends are senile to various degrees).
  • On Kim Possible, the villain DNAmy is obsessed with collecting Cuddle Buddies stuffed toys.
  • Creepy... semi-subversion, maybe, in Transformers Animated. Lockdown has a collection of all sorts of trophies. However, he is not extremely old,[1] and the "trophies" are various mods (read: body parts) he's ripped off of his bounties.
  • The Tick (animation) - a supervillain named Pig Leg, a man with a fully formed, sentient pig for a leg, had a collection of pig figurines - he sheepishly explained that he told a friend in passing that he liked pigs, so his friend bought him a little pig figure, then someone else saw it and bought him another; it sort of just happened.
  1. he doesn't look/act it, at least - being a Transformer, he's probably a couple million years old