Are we actually afraid of clowns?

By Seán McGlone – News Editor

I remember watching an episode of “Goosebumps” called “Night of the Living Dummy” when I was young. Slappy, a ventriloquist’s dummy, came to life and terrorized the children who tried to play with him. From that point on, I was terrified of ventriloquist dummies. For years I would freak out whenever I saw dummies in movies like “Dead Silence,” a 2007 thriller about a murdered ventriloquist who’s ghost still haunts where she lived. However, after several years, I started to fear them less and wonder about them more. Even today I still think it would be fun to learn ventriloquism.

I believe the same idea can be applied to the country’s recent obsession with clowns. Apparently, Halloween came early this year when there were multiple sightings all over the country of creepy clowns, some of them carrying weapons such as bats and knives.

Some people are claiming that this is because of a remake of Stephen King’s “IT,” which is set to be released in 2017. This new version of the killer clown, Pennywise, will likely scare thousands of people away from clowns forever. But why are we afraid of them now? I believe it has something to do with the generation of people who came before us.

With all due respect to the generation before us, I believe they’ve doomed us from ever enjoying clowns. After movies like “Poltergeist” and the original “IT” were released, people all over the country became deathly afraid of clowns. This fear has been passed along to our generation and now we automatically hate clowns.

Ty Burr, film critic for The Boston Globe, wrote in a recent column, “When did clowns become creepy?” He believes we are all “afraid” of clowns because we have been taught to be afraid of clowns. While there are those who are actually, genuinely, deathly afraid of clowns, many of us just claim we are because clowns have become such a symbol of monstrosity and murder in pop culture.

While I’m inclined to agree with Burr, I would go even further and say that for our generation, this fear is just something we have inherited.

Whether or not we are all actually afraid of clowns or just conditioned to be, we should remember that not every clown you see is trying to scare you. While of course if you see a clown randomly in the street, you shouldn’t approach them. But if you see one at a circus or a birthday party, most likely they’re just your typical Bozo, or at worst, Krusty.

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