By Riddhi Tyagi

“I have this fear of clowns, so I think that if I surround myself with them; it will ward off all evil.”

Johnny Depp

With Andy Muschietti’s adaptation of Stephen King’s novel officially shattering box office records during its opening weekend, it won’t be wrong to say that people have been quaking in their boots since they have watched ‘It’.(you see what I did there?)

afraid of clowns

The movie revolves around seven young peeps battling against the bloodthirsty, murderous clown ‘Pennywise’. It is not the first time a film has shown the clown in a negative light. There was Poltergeist (1982) and there were films like Spawn (1997) and Blood Harvest (1987) and the very famous portrayal of ‘The Joker’ by Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight (2008).

Amongst literary pieces one can witness traces of evil clowns in Charles Dickens’ novel The Pickwick Papers (1836), or Edgar Allan Poe‘s “Hop-Frog” and of course Stephen King’s famous novel It.

afraid of clowns

Evil clowns also occupied a small niche in drama, appearing in the 1874 work La femme de Tabarin by Catulle Mendès and in Ruggero Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci, both works featuring murderous clowns as central characters.

Since these are works of fiction, one might say that the fear of clowns (Coulrophobia) has been instilled in us through these fantasies and stories. After all, what harm, a person fooling around wearing a funny attire with a painted face could do?

To many people, a lot.

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There have been evil clown sightings in the past as much as recently. Instilling the fear of clowns in society can be attributed to John Wayne Gacy, an American serial killer and rapist arrested in 1978, who became known as the Killer Clown after it was discovered he had performed as Pogo the Clown at children’s parties and other events.

afraid of clowns

In another such instance, on 26 May 1990, in Wellington, Florida, Marlene Warren opened her front door to a brown-eyed clown bearing flowers and balloons. The clown shot her in the face, drove off in a white Chrysler LeBaron and was never seen again. Her murder remains unsolved.

Unusual clown sightings and murder stories often attract media attention and we are perceptibly drawn to them whilst wondering if all of this is true.

 afraid of clowns

A study by the University of Sheffield concluded “that clowns are universally disliked by children. Some found them quite frightening and unknowable.

Researcher Ben Radford, who published Bad Clowns in 2016 and is regarded as an expert on the phenomenon, writes that looking throughout history clowns are seen as tricksters, fools, and more; however, they always are in control, speak their minds, and can get away with doing so.

Though Coulrophobia is termed as an irrational fear, it is a term for real. Clowns do scare us, and for some people, well, scare the hell out of them.

afraid of clowns

It cannot, however, be exactly proved why we are afraid of them, but they have a certain element to themselves that has kept the whole world frightened from ages. They are a hit amongst storytellers when it comes to creating some daunting stories.

It may also be due to the kind of clothes they are garbed in and the kind of make-up they put on, making them potential threats.

And by threats I do not mean the professional ones, of course they stay away from the eerie element while performing. It is just a natural occurrence which makes some people afraid of them. And, well, for the rest of us, it is for stories like these.

And this is how I’d end it

Kehta hai joker sara zamanaa, ………

Aadhi hakeekat, aadha fasanaa…

Image Credits: Google Images


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