Wipe that Stupid Smile Off Your Face
So it appears that a group of maniacal lunatics dressed as evil clowns have been terrorizing the country recently, scaring the literal crap out of children in the woods, sending vague threats to local authorities, and forcing school closures nationwide. And this time I am not just referring to those sinister jokesters known as the RNC. No, for some unknown reason, a group of twisted fucks have decided that it is funny or cool to dress in evil clown costumes and appear out of nowhere mysteriously and threateningly in order to unnerve entire communities. This, apparently, is their idea of a joke. Seriously, what the hell is wrong with you people anyway?
Perhaps it’s just because I refused to read any more Stephen King after curling up in the fetal position for an entire week when I stayed up to finish Pet Cemetery on a dark and stormy night along the coastline of Rhode Island, but I never really bought into clowns as the embodiment of evil thing in the first place. Having not even known until this past week that the iconic, nightmare-inducing clown from It was actually named Pennywise, I must admit that even the name, now that I know it, sounds kind of laughable to me. You see, for me at least, clowns are just meant to be funny. I think it’s safe to assume I’ve never been to one of those pee your pants in front of your girlfriend haunted houses that come around this time of year or gotten my groove on at an Insane Clown Posse show. I’m just not the horror type.
The reason for that, I believe, is that I try to avoid living my life via fear. Don’t get me wrong, I have my share of them. Just ask my girlfriend how scared I am getting on an airplane, but I fly regularly nonetheless. Having fears is natural. Succumbing to them is the issue.
These sick folks running around dressed as evil clowns are trying to get you to do just that. They are manipulating our emotions and subsequent reactions by taking advantage of our innate fear of the unknown. In dissecting the principal causes of our fear of clowns Scott Bonn, a criminologist and professor of sociology at Drew University in New Jersey, says, “The fascination with clowns is really the fact that they’re not real. We don’t know what’s beneath that makeup. It could be anyone or anything. They’re actually very frightening.” What intimidates us about clowns is that we’re not sure what that smile on their face even means. Is it happy or sinister? And is it even real in the first place?
Our natural tendency is to fear what we do not know or understand, and that inherently constrains our reactions by subjugating us to our fears. We recoil back, we have knee-jerk reactions, we run away screaming bloody murder without ever looking back. Even though no one has been harmed by these scary clowns (thus meaning that the scary clown demographic actually commits violent crime at a statistically lower rate than the general population), schools have been closed, investigations have been made, and costumes have been banned. We have given in wholeheartedly to our fears.
And that means that these stupid bastards have won. They have won by terrorizing us into changing the ways we see and respond to clowns, by intimidating us into taking actions we would otherwise eschew. When we close down a school or tell kids they cannot wear clown costumes as some local municipalities have done, we are ceding power to individuals who would otherwise remain powerless, granting them an ability to manipulate our emotions and define how we relate to clowns.
I prefer to take that power back. Screw them and their perverse image of violent clowns. I choose to view clowns as the benevolent and jolly providers of merriment that they truly are. I’m going to go sit on the lap of a clown and tell him what I want for my birthday. I’m going to squeeze that bright red nose and make a honking noise in the background all while pulling on the never-ending handkerchief sticking out of his pocket. I’m going to wear oversized shoes and squash me and fifty of my closest friends into my Chevy Bolt so that we can spend the afternoon catching rays by the seashore. And then, I’m going to paint my face and go bravely into the deep, dark woods hand-in-hand with Krusty the Clown singing Judy Collins’s “Send in the Clowns”.
Steven Craig is the author of the best-selling novel WAITING FOR TODAY, as well as numerous published poems, short stories, and dramatic works. Read his blog TRUTH: in 1000 Words or Less every THURSDAY at www.waitingfortoday.com