Creepy Clown Open Thread

I refer you to the book Bad Clowns, by Benjamin Radford.

I remember my first bad clown. I was at a Home Bureau event with my mother, and I was probably not in kindergarten yet. Home Bureau was part of the "Ladies Auxiliary" arm of the war effort during WW II, that remained as an organization long after. It had to do with sewing, I think. This was at the Albany Armory. It might not have been a Home Bureau event per se, but a Home Bureau booth at a larger scale event of some sort. And there were many different events and attraction.

One of the things they had was a booth with Bozo the Clown, who would come out now and then and entertain the kids. I remember asking my mother if I could go and get Bozo's autograph, and she said, fine. So I got some paper and a pen and set out to find Bozo.

It was between acts, and Bozo was in the back of where a row of booths were, smoking a cigarette. I went over to him, looked up, and said, "Bozo, can I please have an autograph," while hold out the paper and pen.

I don't even want to tell you what happened next. It was creepy. And I've never gone near a clown since.

We got a letter from Huxley's school district warning us about clown activity, and declaring the whole thing to be a hoax. Mainly.

Meanwhile, my contact deeper inside the school district tells me that some of the students may be getting into this, both being clowns and fearing clowns and maybe going and doing things to clowns. Everyone is a bit nervous, and bad things might happen.

Stephen King, probably feeling at least somewhat responsible for the whole thing, has weighted in, saying it is "time to cool down the clown hysteria." Well, dammit, Stephen, had you not created Pennywise, maybe we wouldn't have had a clown hysteria!

But, chances are, we would. Radford, in the book I cite above, tells us that the creep clown phenomenon is old, and comes back now and then in different forms.

johnwaynegacypogoAnd there is always Pogo The Killer Clown, aka, Serial Killer John Wayne Gacy.

But seriously, people die. One person, so far, a girl disguised as a creepy clown got stabbed to death by other kids.

Given the time of year and the nature of the creepy clown phenomenon -- where you can be a clown, a clown finder, a clown killer, etc., lots of different roles to play -- there really cold be trouble on the horizon. Every year in many high schools, for example, kids make up interactive running games. I gave a guest talk in a high school a couple of years ago. At the end of the talk, a student came over to me and asked permission to leave the classroom by the back door. "They're out to get me, I know they are out there," she said.

I looked at the teacher, and the teacher looked at her, and pointed to the normal, front door. "No," was all he said.

So she went out the front door of the classroom and was assassinated. Apparently the name of the game that year was "assassin" or something like this. And from the point of view of the teachers, the faster all the students in your class are assassinated, the better, because that ends the shenanigans.

(The assassination is done with a harmless water gun.)

There are indications that the Clown Game is starting to form.

The problem with the clown game is, of course, that the clowns are anonymous. You know what happens when a bunch of people are anonymous. they turn into unmitigated assholes. Like all those clowns on the internet. The anonymous aspect of a clown game forming up in middle schools and high schools across the country is as scary as a scary clown.

Have you seen or hard of clown activity in your area? Are you a clown? In search of a clown? Know any clowns? Do you make extra sure to lock your doors at night these days?

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Well, speaking as an anonymous person, all I can say is: Huh?

I admit it. I don't get what's going on here. But my initial reaction is to blame it all on lazy comedians who a few decades back hit on the scary clown gag and have been milking the hell out of it ever since; turning it into a trope that any talentless smartass can brandish.

Which leads us to the biggest creepy clown of all, the blatantly not anonymous Donald Trump.

By Obstreperous A… (not verified) on 06 Oct 2016 #permalink

Ok, I read your post more carefully and realized I was being flippant. My apologies. I still don't get it, but it's very disturbing.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't clowns in traditional cultures represent a form of chaos?

By Obstreperous A… (not verified) on 06 Oct 2016 #permalink

I think I was being flippant first.

I'm not sure what a clown in a traditional culture is. Which culture/clowns? Somewhere in eastern Europe? The clown suits look a bit like they may come from there.

I was thinking of the Hopi but somehow had the idea that they are widespread-- as I assume that trickster gods and critters are as well.

I'll have to look around some more. Jesters may be an antecedent in that category too... ?

By Obstreperous A… (not verified) on 06 Oct 2016 #permalink

Ah, right, I forgot the term "clown" had been used in that context.

I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that SW Native folk and allied academics etc. dropped the use of the word at some point. Maybe it came back, though.

Nobody likes clowns.

The genesis of the scary clown may have been Grimaldi and Dickens. Who knew? Certainly not me.

BBD, interesting link! I think I'm going to start paying more attention to The Smithsonian.

By Obstreperous A… (not verified) on 07 Oct 2016 #permalink

@8: Rob Zombie is the real name of a musician and film maker. His films are horror themed (Devils Rejects for one) do a report like that is not necessarily false.

OA, buy yourself a subscription to their magazine. It's one of those cover-to-cover reads.

By Brainstorms (not verified) on 07 Oct 2016 #permalink

Thanks, Dean. That's really the man's name! Marvellous!

"Nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina, when the clowns are about...."