Why Are We so Afraid of Clowns? | Pugs and Dinosaurs

I didn’t include any images in this post, just in case someone who is scared of clowns wanted to have a read. So here’s a gif of a puppy burrito:

giphy-62

Image via giphy.com

Anyway…for the 13th day of my advent calendar, I thought I’d take a look at clowns.

You’ve probably seen the new ‘craze’ being covered by the media, with people being chased or intimidated by people in clown masks and some of these idiots are even carrying weapons. It started over in the States and has since spread here, no one is sure why people are doing it, but it’s probably just to get off on scaring people – although there have been some reports of violence.

While I’ve never been a huge fan of clowns – I don’t really get why someone would ever want to dress up as one – I know people who have real phobias of them and I’ve always wondered why they evoke such fear. But saying that, you can have a fear of anything can’t you?

Is it the over the top make up? The fact that some don’t talk? Is it their portrayal in film and TV? When exactly did we start fearing them?

Fear of clowns is actually known as Coulrophobia and it only recently developed in the last few decades, before then clowns were a popular choice for kids parties and as entertainment at the circus and at the fair.

Now, I’ve never had a clown at one of my birthday parties. I don’t like them. But I do remember this one guy who was always at the annual Christmas party my Dad’s work and to be honest I didn’t really like him. All the kids would sit cross legged at his feet while he made balloon animals and handed out presents but I don’t remember doing the same.

Those studying the phobia believe it’s the indistinguishable facial features that make clowns so scary. You can’t tell who is behind the make up and the make up itself grotesquely over exaggerates what’s already there, with the overdrawn mouth, the large nose and drawn on eyes.

Clowns are considered capable of luring children, which is why adults may find them unnerving and it could be suggested that Stephen King’s IT was one of the first clowns in popular culture that killed and struck fear in people. His line ‘we all float down here’ is still enough to give me chills.

IT was released in 1990, 26 years ago, and since then we’ve had a number of films and shows about killer clowns. The Supernatural TV show has featured them numerous times – Sam Winchester suffers from Coulrophobia – there’s the creepy clown doll under the bed in the film Poltergeist and the zombie clown in dark comedy Zombieland is pretty nasty.

Clown phobia is considered by many to be ‘silly’, some of those individuals who fear clowns apologise for it or think their fear is stupid and it’s all because we really shouldn’t have any reason to be scared of them at all. They were created to entertain, to make us happy, to make balloon animals and fall over their big stupid feet for laughs.

You can’t say the same about spiders or flying in an airplane, those things can kill. But a clown simply can’t, people forget it’s the person behind the make up or the mask that is the problem. Putting on a clown mask doesn’t turn you into a killing machine.

Now, I’m not trying to belittle people’s fears. If you have a phobia, you have a phobia and there is always some underlying reason for it. But for now, here’s a little history:

Clowns have actually been around since Ancient Egypt, as one of the original forms of jesting, where an entertainer would be hired to keep royalty and higher classes amused during public events. Native Americans also had clowns who entertained for them and some tribes even believed their clowns had the power to cure diseases and that the laughter they created opened people up to the Gods.

Circus clowns actually originated in England with the birth of the Billy Buttons act, a clown who had trouble getting on and riding a horse. There was always plenty of slapstick comedy and over exaggerated actions.

So, clowns haven’t always been a bad thing but like many characters, they’ve been twisted and manipulated into something sinister – you’re never going to see a nice film about a cute clown and his buddies any time soon. And as for this creepy clown craze sweeping the country, people are always going to take advantage of a situation like it.

But hey don’t worry clown fearers, there’s a guy in Wales dressed as Batman taking these idiots down!

Are you scared of clowns? Let me know why in the comments below!

Jade

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