Looking for a Reason Why We Fear Clowns? This Is “IT”.

by Alyssa Longo
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Coulrophobia: A Common Recipe for disaster Around Halloween.

It’s safe to say many people have a fear of clowns. Whether it’s a full-blown phobia or just a spooky feeling, clowns can be down right scary! Logically, a clown is simply a person wearing makeup and silly clothes, so why do these goofs give just about everyone the creeps? Is it the ever-present painted on smile? The uncertainty of their emotions? (Are they really happy or are they about to kill you?!) What about the fact that they are unpredictable and crazy? The answer is that it’s actually all of these things.

This spark of fear in society that clowns are not what they appear to be dates back to Joseph Grimaldi, one of the original famous clowns, who died of alcoholism. Charles Dickens was in charge of editing Grimaldi’s memoirs, and this was perhaps one of society’s first glimpses into the hidden darkness behind the happy makeup of the clown.
Society has a lot to do with our fear of clowns, (ex. Blockbuster movies like Steven King’s reboot of “It”; the popular “American Horror Story: Cult” which was packed with seemingly real clown terrorists running rampant through the homes and grocery stores of suburban Michigan; and who could forget the news stories about the “killer clowns” hiding in bushes, jumping out and scaring innocent people?) The fear of clowns is more apparent than ever.
But beyond the mainstream hysteria, it is difficult to overcome this fear, whether it has been with you since childhood or if it was developed later as an adult. From psychological standpoint, clowns automatically set off fear reflexes deep within our brains, similar to that of a phobia, but not as intense. Humans are subconsciously sensitive to physical appearance. Studies show human faces that deviate from the norm are upsetting. It doesn’t stop at the physical attributes though. Clown-like behavior is unnatural. Not being able to predict their actions sparks a type of distrust and this can cause a great deal of discomfort.
This certainly does not help in the clown’s defense!
With fall’s biggest horror movie, you’re going to see plenty of terrifying Pennywise the Clowns running around on Halloween this year. Even though the creepy clown costumes have been around for a long while, it hasn’t felt quite as infinite as it has during the past couple of years, and may feel in the years ahead. Will it become so normal that the idea of the scary clown will start to lose some of its power, especially for kids and teenagers growing up during this jolt of jesters?

Until then…watch out, stay safe and remember: It’s just a mask.

….Or is it? Muahahahhaha

 

Alyssa Longo

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