How did the once innocent, playful concept of a clown go from a character often sought after for childrens’ birthday parties and festivities become one synonymous with horror and terror?
Per most things these days, blame the mainstream media.
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From portrayals as murderous and terrorizing in shows like "American Horror Story" and movies like "Suicide Squad," the scary clown archetype is, sadly, nothing new. And at the most recent forefront of this anti-clown epidemic is the reboot of Stephen King’s infamous “It," which features a terrifying clown named Pennywise who feeds on the fears of a Maine town’s youth by literally eating them alive.
But while most are able to separate fantasy from reality, it may not necessarily be so easy for everyone to disentangle the “scary clown” persona from the real life clowns trying to make a living out of entertaining — and it’s costing many of them their jobs.
Clown phobia, known as coulrophobia in technical terms, seems to be sweeping the nation at record-high levels, showing devastating consequences for real-life clowns trying to continue to make a living.
Pam Moody, World Clown Association President, told The Hollywood Reporter:
“[Professional clowns] had school shows and library shows that were canceled. That’s very unfortunate. The very public we're trying to deliver positive and important messages to aren't getting them."
The WCA has issued what its calling a “press kit” in response to the massive negative stigma surrounding the clown community as of late.
The statement is meant to help clowns deal with the inevitable backlash they’ll face following the release of “It”, even calling out the movie specifically in one paragraph:
“We understand that some people enjoy the "horror genre" of entertainment, but we find that many people are confronted by images of horror characters (impersonating clowns) and are startled by them...which is obviously the goal of these horror characters. In my opinion, these horror characters are not clowns. Even the character in the movie ‘It’ should be understood to be a fantasy character – not a true clown.”
Horror king and author of "It", Stephen King, has even weighed in on the clown-trauma-drama (copyright?), clapping back at the clowns who seem to be particualrly pissed off with his representation of their culture:
Oh baby, it's getting heated in here!
Last year’s influx of evil and armed clowns running through cities and subway stations holding knives and other weapons has made the clown’s of this country particularly worried about this month’s release of “It,” with Moody even noting that last year, clowns were "really blindsided” by the violent sightings and encounters.
Still, the WCA has faith that the clown community will prosper and overcome the bad press and preconceived notions of horror and terror:
“It is true that various horror clown portrayals work against our goal. We hope our audience realizes that there are different categories in entertainment. We stay on the positive side of things providing fun, grated, child-friendly entertainment. We also recommend that young children not be exposed to horror movies which are intended for mature audiences.”
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