What’s up with clowns?
I recently watched the new IT movie and loved IT. I was a big fan of the 1990s mini TV adaptation, but in my opinion, this new film blindingly outshone it. Not just because of the better effects, but also it was wisely pulled forward in time to the 1980s which made me feel nostalgic and quickly bonded me to the characters. I’m not sure whether Stephen King’s book started the ‘creepy clown’ mindset or merely tapped into something that was already there, but few people can talk about clowns without mentioning IT.
The fear of clowns is called Coulrophobia, and I’m not that scared of them to consider this a personal problem for me, but I certainly wouldn’t choose to be in the same room with one; God forbid, get trapped in an elevator with one. Weird, underneath that white pancake make-up and exaggerated black and red features is just an average person, right? Hmmm, I guess that’s a dangerous assumption. It’s a fact that masks and costumes can change a person. Some actors can’t get into character until they are in their costumes, some people are more willing to commit immoral acts while wearing a mask and assuring their anonymity – but does the mask give that person license to do what they want? Or does it go deeper? When you put on a persona, can it alter your personality?
I work on an industrial estate that can sometimes get clogged with traffic. One night I was sat in a traffic jam when I absent-mindedly looked in the rearview mirror and saw that there was a clown in the car behind me. It was a weird thing to see, but I quickly assured myself that he was probably on the way to a party or perhaps on his way home. But, even with this logic, I found it hard to take my eyes off him. What if he did something weird? What if he pulled out some pins and started to juggle awkwardly behind the wheel? What if he got out of the car? And then he waved at me.
I did two things. I waved back with one hand and then locked my car’s doors with the other. I’m polite, but not stupid. As a horror writer, my mind suddenly began to swim with images of him bounding over to my car, cheap silky costume billowing behind him, breaking my windows with his chubby gloved hands, and then dragging me out and into the nearby shrubbery… but he didn’t do anything else. He just waited patiently for traffic to move, just like everyone else. But I was creeped out beyond belief. Maybe he meant it as a friendly gesture? But do any strangers wave at fellow drivers on the road? I’ve never had it before and not had it since. Was being dressed as a clown a factor in this friendly yet odd behaviour? I’ll never really know. I do know though, that what we wear affects how we act, just ask any business or school that enforces a uniform. Does dressing like a clown permit you to indulge a comical yet dark side that would usually remain hidden? I am guessing a lot of you are yelling the name of the famous serial killer John Wayne Gacy at the screen now, but arguably there have been more serial killers that haven’t dressed as clowns than ones that were. Or maybe, they just haven’t been caught yet.