Friday, October 7, 2016

Fears of a Clown: Countdown to Halloween (Day 7)

Comic performers who employ physical comedy such as mime and slapstick to entertain are known as clowns.  Clowns have been around in one form or other from at least the early days of ancient Greek theatre when they were known as “rustic fools” all the way through royal houses when they were known as just “fools” and “jesters”.

Joseph Grimaldi is credited with creating the first mainstream clown role in a circus in the early 1800s…and with it the traditional whiteface make-up design.  He became so popular, in fact, that in Britain, clowns became known as “Joey” and his name and make-up were adopted by nearly all other types of clowns.

Coulrophobia is a psychiatric condition that describes the fear of clowns.  It doesn’t take a clown attempting to appear “creepy” to produce this condition.  It’s just straight up regular old Bob the Clown that can bring this reaction.  It’s all in the observer, this fear.  However irrational, it is real, but it is wholly created in the mind of the subject.

These days there’s almost a mass hysteria about “evil” or “creepy” clowns that seem intent on at the least being weird and at most have actual sinister intent.  At least that’s the way the public and news seem to portray it.  But years before these dark portrayals of clowns, the seeds for these points of view had been planted by popular culture.

Here are some informative links from some very credible places about the phenomenon:

NPR: America's Creepy Clown Problem

Time Magazine: Scary Clown Sighting

Stephen King’s Pennywise seems to be credited with a lot of the blame.  Tim Curry's absolutely terrifying portrayal in the TV movie is spectacular.

Of course there's the ever present
Clown Prince of Crime!

Can't beat the Killer Klowns from Outer Space.

The rap-punk duo Insane Clown Posse.

Rob Zombie has his very own Captain Spaulding--portrayed superbly by Sid Haig.

And lest we forget these guys...



So I see the phenomenon as simply pranksters cashing in on popular fears to entertain themselves.  And with the reactions they are getting from a frightened public, it’s working well.  Perhaps too well, as even the White House has been asked if the President has been briefed on the situation.

Of course we can't ignore a very real basis behind the whole modern day fear of clowns.  Pogo the Clown.  John Wayne Gacy was Pogo the Clown.  He also happened to be a serial killer responsible for the deaths of at least thirty-three young men and boys.  Gacy would dress up as Pogo for fundraisers and charitable events... here, then, is the real monster of the story.

But that isn't his true face...
this is:

The Goods just got too serious for it's own good.

Well, how about we end this on a better note...
FRED THE CLOWN is by Roger Langridge and it's a nifty little comic strip about a clown named Fred who gets into all sorts of trouble... and, rarely, out of it:
Click For A Closer Look

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