Evil clown

The evil clown is a subversion of the traditional comic clown character, in which the playful trope is instead rendered as disturbing through the use of horror elements and dark humor. The modern archetype of the evil clown was popularized by Stephen King's 1986 novel It. The character can be seen as playing off the sense of unease felt by sufferers of coulrophobia, the fear of clowns.

Scary Clowns at PDC2008 Party at Universal Studios (cropped)
A group of people in evil clown costumes at a PDC 2008 party at Universal Studios

Origins

Enrico Caruso As Canio
Enrico Caruso as the murderous Canio in Pagliacci

The modern archetype of the evil clown has unclear origins; the stock character appeared infrequently during the 19th century, in such works as Edgar Allan Poe's "Hop-Frog",[1] which is believed by Jack Morgan, of the University of Missouri-Rolla, to draw upon an earlier incident "at a masquerade ball", in the 14th century, during which "the king and his frivolous party, costumed—in highly flammable materials—as simian creatures, were ignited by a flambeau and incinerated, the King narrowly escaping in the actual case."[2] 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 (accused of being a plagiarism of Mendès' piece), both works featuring murderous clowns as central characters.[3][4]

During the 1970s the National Lampoon published a series of mock comic books in the pages of the magazine, entitled "Evil Clown", which featured a malevolent titular character named Frenchy the Clown. During that decade, American serial killer and rapist John Wayne Gacy became known as the Killer Clown when arrested in 1978, after it was discovered he had performed as Pogo the Clown at children's parties and other events; however, Gacy did not actually commit his crimes while wearing his clown costume.[5]

Pennywise Cosplay 1
Cosplay of the Stephen King character Pennywise the Dancing Clown, a famous evil clown

The modern stock character of the evil clown was popularized by Stephen King's novel It, published in 1986, which introduced the fear of an evil clown to a modern audience. In the novel, the eponymous character is a pan-dimensional monster which feeds mainly on children by luring them in the form of Pennywise the Dancing Clown and then assuming the shape of whatever the victim fears the most.

The evil clown archetype plays strongly off the sense of dislike it caused to inherent elements of coulrophobia; however, it has been suggested by Joseph Durwin[6] that the concept of evil clowns has an independent position in popular culture, arguing that "the concept of evil clowns and the widespread hostility it induces is a cultural phenomenon which transcends just the phobia alone". A study by the University of Sheffield concluded "that clowns are universally disliked by children. Some found them quite frightening and unknowable."[7][8] This may be because of the nature of clowns' makeup hiding their faces, making them potential threats in disguise; as a psychology professor at California State University, Northridge stated, young children are "very reactive to a familiar body type with an unfamiliar face".[9] This natural dislike of clowns makes them effective in a literary or fictional context, as the antagonistic threat perceived in clowns is desirable in a villainous character.

Researcher Ben Radford, who published Bad Clowns[10] in 2016 and is regarded as an expert on the phenomenon,[11] writes that looking throughout history clowns are seen as trickers, fools, and more; however, they always are in control, speak their minds, and can get away with doing so. When writing the book Bad Clowns, Radford found that professional clowns are not generally fond of the bad-clown (or evil-clown) persona. They see them as "the rotten apple in the barrel, whose ugly sight and smell casts suspicion on the rest of them," and do not wish to encourage or propagate coulrophobia. Yet, as Radford discovered, bad clowns have existed throughout history: Harlequin, the King's fool, and Mr. Punch. Radford argues that bad clowns have the "ability to change with the times" and that modern bad clowns have evolved into Internet trolls. They may not wear clown costume but, nevertheless, engage with people for their own amusement, abuse, tease and speak what they think of as the "truth" much like the court jester and "dip clowns" do using "human foibles" against their victims. Radford states that, although bad clowns permeate the media in movies, TV, music, comics, and more, the "good clowns" outnumber the bad ones. Research shows that most people do not fear clowns but actually love them and that bad clowns are "the exception, not the rule."[10]

Interpretations

Scary clown
"Evil clown" makeup and costume

The concept of the evil clown is related to the irrational fear of clowns, known as coulrophobia, a neologism coined in the context of informal "-phobia lists".[12]

The cultural critic Mark Dery has theorized the postmodern archetype of the evil clown in "Cotton Candy Autopsy: Deconstructing Psycho-Killer Clowns" (a chapter in his cultural critique The Pyrotechnic Insanitarium: American Culture on the Brink).[13]

Tracking the image of the demented or deviant clown across popular culture, Dery analyzes the "Pogo the Clown" persona of the serial killer John Wayne Gacy; the obscene clowns of the neo-situationist Cacophony Society; the Joker (of Batman fame); the grotesque art of R.K. Sloane; the sick-funny Bobcat Goldthwaite comedy Shakes the Clown; Scooby-Doo 's Ghost Clown from the episode "Bedlam In The Big Top"; and Pennywise the Dancing Clown from Stephen King's It.

Using Mikhail Bakhtin's theory of the carnivalesque, Jungian and historical writings on the images of the fool in myth and history, and ruminations on the mingling of ecstasy and dread in the Information Age, Dery asserts the evil clown is an icon of our times. Clowns are often depicted as murderous psychopaths at many American haunted houses.

Wolfgang M. Zucker points out the similarities between a clown's appearance and the cultural depictions of demons and other infernal creatures, noting "[the clown's] chalk-white face in which the eyes almost disappear, while the mouth is enlarged to a ghoulish bigness looks like the mask of death".[14]

According to psychology professor Joseph Durwin at California State University, Northridge, young children are "very reactive to a familiar body type with an unfamiliar face".[9] Researchers who have studied the phobia believe there is some correlation to the uncanny valley effect. Additionally, clown behavior is often "transgressive" (anti-social behavior) which can create feelings of unease.[15]

Urban legends and incidents

Bad clowns

Researcher Ben Radford, looking at the phenomenon of bad clowns throughout history, writes that clowns are seen as trickers, fools, and more; however, they always are in control, speak their minds, and can get away with doing so. When writing the book Bad Clowns, Radford found that professional clowns are not generally fond of the bad-clown persona. They see them as "the rotten apple in the barrel, whose ugly sight and smell casts suspicion on the rest of them," and do not wish to encourage or propagate coulrophobia. Yet, as Radford discovered, bad clowns have existed throughout history: Harlequin, the King's fool, and Mr. Punch. Radford argues that bad clowns have the "ability to change with the times" and that modern bad clowns have evolved into Internet trolls. They may not wear clown costume but, nevertheless, engage with people for their own amusement, abuse, tease and speak what they think of as the "truth" much like the court jester and "dip clowns" do using "human foibles" against their victims. Radford states that, although bad clowns permeate the media in movies, TV, music, comics, and more, the "good clowns" outnumber the bad ones. Research shows that most people do not fear clowns but actually love them and that bad clowns are "the exception, not the rule."[10]

Murder of Marlene Warren

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; Warren died two days later. Her murder remained unsolved until late September 2017, when police arrested a woman named Sheila (Keen) Warren for the murder. Sheila Warren had married Marlene Warren's widower, Michael Warren, in 2002.[16]

Clown sightings

The related urban legend of evil clown sightings in real life is known as "phantom clowns".[17] First reported in 1981 in Brookline, Massachusetts, children said that men dressed up as clowns had attempted to lure them into a van.[18] The panic spread throughout the US in the Midwest and Northeast. It resurfaced in 1985 in Phoenix, Arizona; in 1991 in West Orange, New Jersey;[19] and 1995 in Honduras. Later sightings included Chicago, Illinois, in 2008.[18] Explanations for the phenomenon have ranged from Stephen King's book It and the crimes of serial killer John Wayne Gacy,[17] to a moral panic influenced by contemporaneous fears of Satanic ritual abuse.[18] It also shows similarities to the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin.[19] In most cases the reports were made by children, and no adults or police officers were able to confirm the sightings.[18]

In 2013, a character who became known as "the Northampton Clown" was repeatedly sighted standing silently around the English town. The work of three local filmmakers, Alex Powell, Elliot Simpson and Luke Ubanski, the Northampton clown was similar in appearance to Pennywise the Dancing Clown from the Stephen King novel It.[20] Although rumors said that the clown may have a knife, the clown himself denied these rumors through social media.[21] In March 2014, Matteo Moroni from Perugia, Italy, owner of YouTube channel DM Pranks, began dressing up as a killer clown and terrifying unsuspecting passers-by, with his videos racking up hundreds of millions of views.[22] In 2014, further complaints of evil clown pranksters were reported in France, the United States and Germany, possibly inspired by American Horror Story: Freak Show.[23]

In 2014, "the Wasco clown" attracted social media attention in California. Again this clown would shared similar resemblance to Pennywise, and it was revealed that the social media postings were part of a year-long photography project conducted by the artist's wife.[24] In Bakersfield, California "menacing" clowns were reported, some with weapons.[25] In July 2015, a "creepy" clown was seen around a local cemetery in Chicago and terrorizing anyone in the graveyard.[26]

There was another burst of such sightings in 2016, including in Greenville, South Carolina and New York.[27][28]

Response to evil clowns in media

In 2014, Clowns of America International responded to the depiction of Twisty on American Horror Story, and evil clowns in media generally. President Glenn Kohlberger said, "Hollywood makes money sensationalizing the norm. They can take any situation no matter how good or pure and turn it into a nightmare. ... We do not support in any way, shape or form any medium that sensationalizes or adds to coulrophobia or 'clown fear.'"[29]

Depictions

The contemporary "evil clown" archetype developed in the 1980s, notably popularized by Stephen King's It, and perhaps influenced by John Wayne Gacy, a serial killer dubbed the Killer Clown in 1978. Killer Klowns from Outer Space is a 1988 horror comedy dedicated to the topic. The Joker character in the Batman franchise was introduced in 1940 and has developed into one of the most recognizable and iconic fictional characters in popular culture, leading Wizard magazine's "100 Greatest Villains of All Time" ranking in 2006.[30] Although Krusty the Clown, a cartoon character introduced 1989 in the animated sitcom The Simpsons, is a comical, non-scary clown, the character reveals darker aspects in his personality. In The Simpsons episode "Lisa's First Word" (1992), children's fear of clowns features in the form of a very young Bart being traumatized by an inexpertly-built Krusty the Clown themed bed, repeatedly uttering the phrase "can't sleep, clown will eat me...." The phrase inspired an Alice Cooper song in the album Dragontown (2001)[31] and became a popular catchphrase.[32]

The American rap duo Insane Clown Posse have exploited this theme since 1989 and have inspired Twiztid and similar acts, many on Psychopathic Records, to do likewise. Websites dedicated to evil clowns and the fear of clowns appeared in the late 1990s.[33]

The British arts and music festival Bestival cancelled its planned clown theme in 2006 after many adult ticket-holders contacted the organizers, expressing a fear of clowns.[34]

See also

References

  1. ^ Poe, Edgar Allan, "Hop-Frog" (1849)
  2. ^ Morgan, Jack (2002). The biology of horror: gothic literature and film. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press. pp. 41–42. ISBN 978-0809324712.
  3. ^ Mendès, Catulle (1904). La femme de Tabarin: Tragi-parade. Librairie Charpentier et Fasquelle. pp. 1–34.
  4. ^ Dryden, Konrad (2007). Leoncavallo: Life and Works. Plymouth, UK: The Scarecrow Press. ISBN 978-0-8108-5880-0.
  5. ^ Sullivan, Terry; Maiken, Peter T. (2000). Killer Clown: The John Wayne Gacy Murders. New York City: Pinnacle. ISBN 0-7860-1422-9. OCLC 156783287.
  6. ^ Durwin, Joseph (15 November 2004). "Coulrophobia and the Trickster". Trickster's Way. San Antonio: Trinity University. 3 (1). ISSN 1538-9030. Article 4. Retrieved 2 January 2013.
  7. ^ "Health | Hospital clown images 'too scary'". BBC News. 15 January 2008. Retrieved 5 July 2011.
  8. ^ Rohrer, Finlo (16 January 2008). "Why are clowns scary?". BBC News.
  9. ^ a b Durwin, Joseph. "Coulrophobia & The Trickster". Trinity.edu. Archived from the original on 24 June 2011. Retrieved 5 July 2011.
  10. ^ a b c Radford, Ben (2016). Bad Clowns. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. ISBN 978-0-8263-5666-6.
  11. ^ Shone, Colton. "Recent scary clown trend nothing new, expert said". KOB 4. Archived from the original on 18 October 2016. Retrieved 20 October 2016.
  12. ^ The term is listed by the Online Etymology Dictionary (Harper, Douglas. "coulrophobia". Online Etymology Dictionary.) with the caveat that it "looks suspiciously like the sort of thing idle pseudo-intellectuals invent on the Internet and which every smarty-pants takes up thereafter". The prefix coulro- is "said to be built from Greek kolon 'limb,' with some supposed sense of 'stilt-walker,' hence 'clown'" (i.e. Greek κωλοβαθριστής kolobathristes "stilt-walker"). Probably coined no earlier than the late 1980s but no later than the 1990s, the term "has been coined more on the Internet than in printed form because it does not appear in any previously published, psychiatric, unabridged, or abridged dictionary." (Robertson 2003:62) The Oxford Dictionary of English adopted the term in 2010, also deriving it from kolobatheron "stilt" (Stevenson, Angus, ed. (2010), "coulrophobia noun", Oxford Dictionary of English ((subscription or UK public library membership required))|format= requires |url= (help) (online ed.), Oxford University Press, retrieved 14 March 2011)
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  23. ^ Howard, Michael (27 October 2014). "France Joins The Creepy Clown Hysteria". Esquire. Retrieved 22 April 2015.
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  27. ^ Teague, Matthew (8 October 2016). "Clown sightings: the day the craze began" – via The Guardian.
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  29. ^ Abramovitch, Sam (15 October 2014). "Professional Clown Club Attacks 'American Horror Story' Over Murderous Character". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 16 October 2014.
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  32. ^ Rohrer, Finlo (16 January 2008). "Why are clowns scary?". BBC News. Retrieved 19 January 2008.
  33. ^ Steinberg, Steve (25 January 2003). "Nightmare with a red nose". Dallas Morning News. Coulrophobia has spread to the Web, where sufferers can vent on sites such as ihateclowns.com and clownz.com.
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  44. ^ David Opie (14 March 2017). "Bill Skarsgård "Freaked Out" The Young Cast Of Stephen King's 'It' — Will His Pennywise Be Scarier Than Tim Curry's?". Moviepilot. Retrieved 1 June 2017.
  45. ^ Liz Calvario (29 March 2017). "'It' Teaser Trailer: Pennywise Creeps Back Into Our Lives". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 1 June 2017.
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4th Degree Burn

4th Degree Burn is the first album by rock band Slapshock, released in 1999.

It was certified platinum in the Philippines.

A Rape in Cyberspace

"A Rape in Cyberspace, or How an Evil Clown, a Haitian Trickster Spirit, Two Wizards, and a Cast of Dozens Turned a Database into a Society" is an article written by freelance journalist Julian Dibbell and first published in The Village Voice in 1993. The article was later included in Dibbell's book My Tiny Life on his LambdaMOO experiences.

Lawrence Lessig has said that his chance reading of Dibbell's article was a key influence on his interest in the field. Sociologist David Trend called it "one of the most frequently cited essays about cloaked identity in cyberspace".

Clown

A clown is a comic performer who employs slapstick or similar types of physical comedy, often in a mime style.

Cloyne (disambiguation)

Cloyne is a small town in County Cork, Ireland. It may also refer to:

Cloyne, a community in the township of Addington Highlands in Ontario, Canada.

Cloyne Court Hotel (often referred to simply as Cloyne), a student housing cooperative in Berkeley, California, USA.

Cloyne GAA, a Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) club based in Cloyne, County Cork, Ireland.

Roman Catholic Diocese of Cloyne

Sexual abuse scandal in Cloyne diocese and resulting 2011 Cloyne Report

The mythological name for an evil clown in the movie Clown

Doctor (Loïc Nottet song)

"Doctor" is a song recorded by Belgian singer Loïc Nottet, released on 30 October 2017 by Sony Music Entertainment. It was written by Amy Morrey and Nottet, while production was handled by Ozhora Miyagi and Twenty 9. Released to celebrate Halloween, "Doctor" has been described as a hip hop-influenced dark pop song featuring bass synthesizers and bells in its instrumentation. Lyrically, Nottet details on a toxic relationship that resulted in him committing criminal offences. The song—inspired by Nottet's love of horror films—also features the singer vocally portraying a character that descends into madness.

Selected music critics gave positive reviews of "Doctor" upon its release, praising its unicity, production and Nottet's vocal delivery. An accompanying music video was uploaded onto the singer's official YouTube channel simultaneously with the track's release. Directed by Leander Hanssen Jr, it features Nottet as an evil clown walking on the streets of a town at night alongside a woman; they commit several offences to fellow people. Reviewers generally praised the visual. It was also nominated for Best Video at the 2017 D6bels Music Awards. Promoted by live performances during Nottet's Selfocracy Tour (2017-2018), "Doctor" peaked at number 156 in France and reached number 12 on Wallonia's Ultratip chart.

Doink the Clown

Doink the Clown is a professional wrestling character originally and most popularly portrayed by Matt Borne, who debuted the Doink persona in the World Wrestling Federation in 1992. He is a clown (or evil clown) wearing traditional clown makeup (or a mask decorated to resemble such) and brightly colored clothes. In addition to Borne, Doink has been portrayed by many other wrestlers both in the WWF (now WWE) and on the independent circuit.

Drive-Thru (film)

Drive-Thru is a 2007 American horror black comedy film, directed by Brendan Cowles and Shane Kuhn, starring Leighton Meester and Nicholas D'Agosto. It is set in Orange County, California and involves an evil clown as a serial killer. The film was released direct-to-video on May 29, 2007.

Evil Clown of Middletown

The Evil Clown of Middletown is a large outdoor sign in Middletown Township, New Jersey. Originally built by and for Food Circus grocery store, which later became known as the regional supermarket Foodtown, it is now a roadside display and de facto advertising sign for a nearby Spirits Liquors. Much of the clown's notoriety stems from its sinister-looking face, which might be described as bearing a vaguely-amused sideways scowl.

Frenchy the Clown

Frenchy the Clown is the title character in National Lampoon's "Evil Clown Comics", which ran in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Nick Bakay created the Evil Clown storyline for National Lampoon utilizing Alan Kupperberg as the illustrator. Frenchy the Clown, the comic strip's main character, was not only bitter and evil, but had a "way with the ladies" and was often depicted in fairly sexually explicit scenes. According to Bakay's official website, he wrote these comics when he was "ever so slightly embittered and pissed off at the world". It was humorous, and even pushed the envelope of National Lampoon's lack of political correctness; the magazine's lawyers refused publication of one panel in a subsequently published story.

List of clowns

This is a list of notable clowns.

Live and Acoustic (Rivermaya album)

Live and Acoustic is a live album and the ninth overall album of the Filipino rock band, Rivermaya featuring Slapshock. This is a 2-disc album and has 22 tracks (13 audio tracks from Disc 1 and 9 music videos from Disc 2). The album has been released under Viva Records on July 6, 2002. This is the band's first live album filmed and recorded on May 18, 2002 from the "Double Trouble: Akoustik Rampage" concert at the Music Museum, Greenhills, San Juan.

Pennywise (band)

Pennywise is an American punk rock band from Hermosa Beach, California, formed in 1988. The band took its name from the evil clown monster from the Stephen King horror novel It.Between their 1991 self-titled debut and 2005's The Fuse, Pennywise has released an album every two years on Epitaph Records, a label owned by Bad Religion guitarist Brett Gurewitz. To date, the band has released twelve full-length studio albums (the latest being 2018's Never Gonna Die), one live album, two EPs and one DVD. Although their first two studio albums were critically acclaimed, Pennywise would not experience worldwide commercial success until the 1995 release of their third studio album, About Time, which peaked at number ninety-six on the Billboard 200, and number fifty-five on Australia's ARIA Charts. The band's mainstream success coincided with a growing interest in punk rock during the 1990s, along with fellow California bands NOFX, Rancid, Blink-182, Bad Religion, Green Day, The Offspring, Lagwagon and Sublime. By 2007, the band had independently sold over three million records worldwide, making them one of the most successful independent punk acts of all time.

Pennywise's current line-up consists of Jim Lindberg (vocals), Fletcher Dragge (guitars), Randy Bradbury (bass) and Byron McMackin (drums). They had kept their original line-up together until bassist Jason Thirsk died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in 1996, due to issues with his alcoholism, after which Bradbury joined as his replacement. In August 2009, Lindberg decided to leave the band; he was replaced in February 2010 by Ignite singer Zoli Téglás. With Téglás, the band recorded their tenth studio album All or Nothing, which was released on May 1, 2012. Lindberg rejoined the band later that year after Téglás was sidelined by a back injury.

Pimmon

Pimmon is the recording name of Australian electronic and ambient musician, record producer and arranger, Paul David Gough. He has released records on labels such as Fat Cat Records, Fällt, Tigerbeat6, Staalplaat and Staubgold, and collaborated with Keith Rowe and Oren Ambarchi, among others.

Gough started making music in the early 80s, inspired by Severed Heads, but never released any of it commercially. That changed when he sent a CD-R to the Japanese label Meme, who released it in 1999. Since then, Gough has been perfecting his unique mixture of drone- and glitch-based abstract digital soundscapes, which he creates using a variety of sound sources that he manipulates on his computer. Gough's first documented output arrived in the very early stages of laptop Electroacoustic improvisation and he has thus been credited as "second only to Fennesz as a laptop artist." He has played live at various festivals around the world, and has toured several countries.

Gough lives in Sydney, where he works as an audio engineer at ABC Radio National. He is also the host of a radio show on ABC Radio National called Quiet Space and another program on FBi 94.5 called Paul's Play-Lunch. Gough also performs with guitarist Jeff Burch under the name Mandala Trap.

Redshirt (stock character)

A "redshirt" is a stock character in fiction who dies soon after being introduced. The term originates from the original Star Trek (NBC, 1966–69) television series in which the red-shirted security personnel frequently die during episodes. Redshirt deaths are often used to dramatize the potential peril that the main characters face.

Scooby-Doo Mystery

Scooby-Doo Mystery is the name of two video games released by Acclaim Entertainment and Sunsoft in 1995 based on the Scooby-Doo animated series. One of the games was released for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and is an adventure game with platforming elements. The other title, released for the Sega Genesis is a more traditional adventure game style interface. Both were released only in North America. In both games, players take control of Shaggy Rogers and Scooby-Doo, who help solve various mysteries with other members of Mystery Incorporated who serve minor roles during gameplay.

Scooby-Doo Mystery marked the final time Don Messick provided the voice of Scooby before his death in 1997.

Slapshock

Slapshock is a Filipino heavy metal band. They were formed in 1997, originally as a nu metal act, with their early musical style compared to that of Korn. They have since shifted towards a metalcore style.

Weird NJ

Weird NJ (or WNJ) is a semi-annual magazine that chronicles local legends, hauntings, ghost stories, folklore, unusual places or events, and anything considered "weird" in New Jersey.

Types
Individual clowns
In media
Organizations

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