Clowning Around

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It’s quite literally the stuff of nightmares. Right up there with spiders, a world without bacon, and this year’s Presidential election, a bone-chilling phenomenon has quickly spread from its apparent origins in the Carolinas (where much of the inland demographic is comprised of good ol’ boys with shotguns and itchy trigger fingers) all the way to my hometown in New Jersey. It seems that certain members of society have taken it upon themselves to prey upon the general public’s abject fear of clowns, and have hammered that fear in without, to my knowledge, actually inflicting physical harm upon anyone.

There’s something terrifying about clowns that most of the fearful cannot actually pinpoint. There’s something inexplicably sinister that lies beneath the paint, the silly outfit, bright hair and nose. Evil clowns in horror movies may have sparked an initial fear for many. Tim Curry sure did a bang-up job making everyone afraid of clowns with his portrayal of that famed antagonist in It, based on the Stephen King novel. Even though it was far more camp than terror, Killer Klowns From Outer Space should be more than enough to give someone who is not exactly a fan of clowns nightmares for weeks.

But now, how or why this started is anyone’s guess. One rumor is that people are dressing up as clowns, standing roadside or at the edge of the woods, as a publicity stunt for the upcoming remake of the movie It. Without any confirmation of that claim, it may just be a few sickos that have inspired an increasing number of copycats to instill an insidious terror into the unprepared psyches of suburban children and their parents.

While this may be a phase that will fizzle out as quickly as it originated, the situations involving these costumed creeps are escalating in very real and frightening ways. Reports of clowns attempting to lure children into the woods with offers of money. One woman was allegedly chased by a clown wielding a machete. Another person dressed as a clown was shot in the head, because the retaliation has already started against this unwelcome circus show.

Therein lies a larger, more pressing issue. While it hasn’t happened yet, what if a clown DOES hurt someone? What if one of them succeeds in luring a child into the woods, never to be seen again? What if parents, afraid for their safety and that of their children start striking back on their own? Is this just good, old-fashioned fright or a more sinister agenda at work?

The terror has become so real that children are reporting being chased by clowns but in many cases, neither their parents nor police forces can find any evidence of it actually happening. One would think that with the turmoil going on in this country that something like this would be the last thing we need, but nonetheless, the show goes on. Copycats abound, most of them moronic teenagers, threatening their schools on social media with clown-based violence. It’s been said that this is just another occurrence that is “distracting everyone from the real issues” (as if everyone is not beyond tired of hearing that line about EVERYTHING that’s not a “real issue”) but if this doesn’t go away, it will explode into just that.

It’s already time for the clowns to return from whence they came, be it a big top, or kids’ birthday parties (which is still weird and creepy), and refrain from terrorizing an unwelcoming public.

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