Culture

Fighting Mad Clown Community Disavows Pennywise: 'Not a True Clown'

A group of clowns from the World Clown Association Convention. (AP Photo/The Eau Claire Leader-Telegram, Paul M. Walsh)

After years of being unfairly depicted in popular culture, the clown community is finally fighting back, blaming horror movie clown impostors for the anti-clown hate. “People dressed as horror clowns are not “real clowns,” the World Clown Association declared in a recent statement.

Stephen King’s infamous “It” is only the latest example of the evil clown archetype. For decades, clowns have been portrayed on television and in movies as murderous, terrifying fiends, resulting in widespread coulrophobia (aka clown phobia) — which used to strike only very young children. All of this has had very negative ramifications for the clown industry.

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World Clown Association President Pam Moody said the clown community was surprised by the evil clown epidemic of 2016. “Last year we were really blindsided,” said Moody about the evil clown sightings. They are “typically pranksters in store-bought clown masks who lurked near schools and in residential neighborhoods, sometimes with weapons in hand.”

As a result, “people had school shows and library shows that were canceled,” Moody explained. Even worse, some WCA members have suffered humiliations like the clown who arrived early for a children’s birthday party and waited outside her parked car.

“She looks up and there are four police officers surrounding her,” Moody said. “Someone in the neighborhood called in a clown sighting.”

“We’ve since created a press kit to prepare clowns for the movie coming out,” said Moody.

That guide, “WCA Stand on Scary Clowns !!,” reminds the WCA membership that the “art of clown is something to be treasured and enjoyed” and that “just because someone wears a rubber Halloween mask, that does not make one a clown!” It also recommends “that young children not be exposed to horror movies” such as It.

Moody, who as Sparky the Firefighter Clown teaches safety practices to thousands of grade schoolers in Des Moines, Iowa, says children by instinct are leery of clowns, just as they are leery of Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.

“They’re different from regular people — they’re costumed characters. But no one is picking on the Santa Clauses, because that would ruin the retail business,” she says. “It would ruin Christmas for everybody.”

The WCO’s “press kit” includes a statement  focusing on negative clown stereotypes in popular movie depictions:

We understand that some people enjoy the “horror genre” of entertainment, but we find that many people are confronted by images of horror characters (impersonating clowns) and are startled by them…which is obviously the goal of these horror characters. In my opinion, these horror characters are not clowns. Even the character in the movie “IT” should be understood to be a fantasy character – not a true clown.

Just as a Haunted House event may have a “doctor” wearing surgical gear, carrying a bloody chainsaw, people need to understand that this character is NOT a real doctor. He is a person portraying an evil character in order to scare people. In the same way, people dressed as horror clowns are not “real clowns.” They are taking something innocent and wholesome and perverting it to create fear in their audience.

Please understand, just because someone wears a rubber Halloween mask, that does not make one a clown! The horror movie character, “Jason,” wears a hockey goalie mask. But, people would be mistaken if they actually thought he was a hockey player! We disavow any relationship with these “horror characters.”

The clown community has not gotten a sympathetic ear from horror author Stephen King, who basically told them “tough luck” in a tweet last May:

Clowns are fighting back by protesting “It” screenings.

In Canada, though, non-murderous clowns banded together for a clown protest march outside a number of theaters showing the thriller, because, they say, clowns deserve to be treated with all the respect owed to a profession full of accomplished balloon-animal makers and jugglers.

“We feel that this has done great harm in the business of clowning and for clowns,” an entertainer who goes by the name Dottie The Clown told Vice News. “A number of clown clubs have actually folded due to the negativity surrounding it.”

“You need to remember that clowns are people too,” said Dottie the Clown.