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Elf on the Shelf is a Christmas-themed elf doll and the protagonist character of the 2005 children’s book with the same name. Since its emergence to mainstream popularity, the decorative figurine has inspired parody photographs in which the Elf is staged in a wide range of erotic, creepy or otherwise disturbing settings, in similar vein to Hentai Woody and other figurine-based photo fads.
On September 28th, 2005, the children’s book and toy set titled The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition was released, which tells the story of an elf who delivers reports regarding the behavior of children to Santa Claus each year. In 2008, 2009 and 2010, the doll won the Learning Express toy retailer’s Best Toy Award.
On November 28th, 2009, a Facebook page titled “Elf on a Shelf Gone Bad” was launched, which highlights photographs of the Elf on a Shelf doll posed in a variety of violent, sexual and degenerate scenarios. Within the first five years, the page accumulated more than 111,000 likes.
On December 2nd, 2011, Redditor shadeofpalms submitted an Imgur album of photographs in which the Elf on the Shelf doll is depicted as a voyeur and a menace wreaking all sorts of havoc in a family home (shown below). Prior to being archived, the post gained over 3,400 up votes and 110 comments.
On November 6th, 2012, a Tumblr blog titled “Elf on the Shelf is creepy” was launched, highlighting many of the photographs from Redditor shadeofpalms’ post. On November 23rd, Redditor Mitch444 submitted a photograph of an Elf on the Shelf sitting next to a scantily clothed Barbie doll lying on the ground, with the stage setting suggesting that she had overdosed from snorting an illicit drug. (shown below, left). On December 11th, Redditor BeefAddict posted an Imgur photo album of an Elf on the Shelf indulging himself in acts of debauchery (shown below, middle, right). Prior to being archived, the post garnered upwards of 20,400 up votes and 450 comments on /r/funny.
On November 30th, 2013, the Internet news blog HyperVocal published a compilation of disturbing Elf on the Shelf photographs. On December 5th, 2013, Redditor ketchuppacket submitted a set of photographs in which an Elf on the Shelf doll is posing next to sleeping children with doodles drawn all over their faces (shown below). In the following two weeks, the post received over 4,400 up votes and 250 comments on the /r/funny subreddit. On the same day, the viral content site BuzzFeed highlighted photographs of humorously posed Elf on the Shelf dolls.