It's tough to put on a happy face and be a professional clown these days. Besides dentists, clowns seem to be the most frightening beings on Earth, and the recent slate of scary movies and TV shows -- like 2014's Clown (about a man who can't get his makeup off), Twisty the Clown in American Horror Story: Freak Show, and now the upcoming adaptation of Stephen King's IT -- are all causing a major case of coulrophobia. Add the recent country-wide trend to dress like clowns and prowl innocent neighborhoods scaring the bejesus out of bystanders, and you've got the perfect storm of clown paranoia that isn't going away anytime soon.
But King didn't start the bad feelings about clowns with his 1986 novel, IT, nor did 1988's cult sci-fi horror film Killer Klowns From Outer Space cement the notion; instead, some mysterious, deep-rooted primal cause may be responsible for the ongoing resentment.
In an interview with MEL Magazine after the new IT trailer dropped last month, real-life clowns are speaking up about this rampant anti-clown sentiment that's sweeping the nation. They complain that the negative reception keeps killing their business, as the jolly, red-nosed, balloon-toting performers are being constantly branded in popular media as homicidal monsters, Gacey-like serial killers, or murderous ghosts.
“It’s gonna be bad for clowns,” says L.A.'s Guilford Adams, a 42-year-old pro who has appeared as “Gilly” for two decades. “It’s a dying profession. And the people who do it and scrape together a living have to grapple with the fact that it’s cool and hip not to like clowns. The ultimate prick in this [IT movie] is that it’s going to turn young consumers away from an art form that’s sweet and nice and not about the Kardashians and Minecraft.”
While popular horror-crazed entertainment and its depiction of clowns may be partially responsible for the declining membership in clown organizations and demand for their silly services, it's more of a culture-wide turn from more simple, innocent forms of fun.
“No one sticks up for a clown," Adams sadly noted. "The only thing cooler to dislike is a mime. It’s silly and stupid, and I wish people would focus on the good clowns out there."
But putting all this in the proper context, most of these TV shows and films bashing clowns are for mature audiences only, and young kids shouldn't be watching in the first place! And all this clown talk is only fanning the flames for more creepy clown pics, as studio execs seek to capitalize on the hysteria.
“It’s ruining our business,” believes 33-year-old Nick Kane, who dons the required outfit to transform into "Mr. Nick." “We just experienced a nice break from the scary clown meme from last October. And just when things are starting to normalize, the IT trailer comes and it’s like, ‘Here we go again.’”
Me? I'm blaming it all on Seinfeld's Cosmo Kramer, and his morbid fear of all things clown.