We are inching ever closer to the September 8 release of It, a new film based on one of the creepiest works in Stephen King‘s catalogue. However, while horror fans are excited to see the movie, those suffering from coulrophobia are not the only ones bummed to see Pennywise return to pop culture. Real life, professional, and staunchly non-evil clowns are also pretty upset Pennywise is rearing his disturbing head once again, and it turns out it is actually costing some professional clowns actual work.
As it was explained in The Hollywood Reporter, schools and libraries have cancelled professional clown appearances, and according to the World Clown Association (an actual organization) it’s all thanks to It. According to the WCA’s spokesperson Pam Moody, children are naturally wary of costumed characters, and parents forcing their kid to interact with a clown when they’re frightened can trigger coulrophobia. However, pop culture–and It specifically–have given rise to the “horror clown” rather than the totally normal doers of fun and good. #NotAllClowns
And while you have to be sympathetic to these real people who are just trying succeed at a job they love while hopefully bringing joy to kids’ lives, I don’t know that It is solely to blame for our cultural fear of clowns. After all, it’s absolutely creepy to see a grown person in ridiculous clothes, huge shoes, crazy hair, and garish face paint that exaggerates their facial expressions walk through your front door, right? Just like a row of porcelain dolls can send a shiver up your spine, a clown elicits that same instinct to run because it’s something that is human-adjacent, but just off enough to be hella creepy.
Pennywise definitely was not the first creepy clown. We’ve been scared of clowns for as long as clowns have been a thing. Edgar Allen Poe had a creepy jester in his short story The Hop Frog; Batman’s most famous villains, The Joker, is a creepy clown; there is an urban legend originating in the early 80s of phantom clowns luring children into vans; and let’s not forget real-life serial killer and clown, John Wayne Gacy. These all came well before It first hit bookstores. Because of this, Stephen King isn’t terribly sympathetic to the clowns’ plight.
The clowns are pissed at me. Sorry, most are great. BUT…kids have always been scared of clowns. Don’t kill the messengers for the message.
— Stephen King (@StephenKing) April 10, 2017
Ultimately, I think we can all agree that the moral of the story here is this: all clowns aren’t evil, but whatever age you are, they all are pretty damn creepy.
Do you have a fear of clowns? Do you think clowns get a bad rap? Tell us in the comments!
Feature Image: Warner Bros.