Island Packet – Everybody loves a clown, except me, because I hate them, hate them with an intractable hate, an icy and all-consuming hate, a hate that’s so hateful it’s gorgeous, because all clowns are bone-chilling, spine-curdling, bone-curdling, fake flower-squirting, red-nosed, be-wigged messengers of hideous demon-terror. And I’m not just saying that because of the recurring nightmares I’ve been having since what years of therapy have determined to be around the age of 4, but then again, I probably am. For when they would haunt my sleep, the clowns would mostly chase me across a desolate, bone-dry landscape, one filled with brush and tumbleweeds and Sergio Leone camera crews; I tried in vain to run away, but they were relentless, cackling horrifically on their unicycles and popping up from behind cactus after cactus after cactus. This went on for years, pretty much until the nightmares with the Incredible Hulk began, but this is probably oversharing now, as well as a startlingly long intro paragraph.
For the most part, I don’t like to overgeneralize about things I disapprove of, except Fox News anchors and country music, but I feel comfortable saying that clowns should be avoided at all costs; in fact I have endeavored to keep my young son, for instance, away from them for as long as possible. Seriously, if he came up to me right now and said, “Dad, can I have a clown birthday party?” or “Dad, can you buy me a carton of cigarettes?” my only question would involve his preferred level of filtering.
So it is with a high amount of glee — and a pretty serious celebratory shot of spritzer — that I report that I am not alone. According to a study recently published in Nursing Standard magazine, which you get a free football-phone for subscribing to, kids not only don’t like clowns, but are also often scared by them, despite a longstanding cultural directive that compels parents to decorate rooms with assorted clownaphenalia and companies to use them as icons and marketing characters. Why, to this day, the very sight of Ronald McDonald makes me pretty quickly grimace KA-POW.
Many of the 255 surveyed children between the ages 4 and 16, in fact, found clowns “frightening and unknowable,” two traits that didn’t stop them from liking Hannah Montana, but whatever. There’s even a term for the affliction: coulrophobia, an “abnormal or exaggerated fear of clowns” that is “not uncommon among children, but is also sometimes found in teenagers and adults as well,” so says Wikipedia, which is never incorrect.
Related, sort of
- Insane Clown Posse coming to town, in a tiny car
- Billboard review: Insane Clown Posse, “Bang! Pow! Boom”
But lest you think this is just the irrational, partially drunken rantings of a 34-year-old who should really be over this by now, let us turn to a scientist with a large name: Prof. Paul Salkovskis of Britain’s Maudsley Hospital Centre for Anxiety Disorders and Trauma, which will be breaking ground on a new Clown Wing this spring: “People are typically frightened by things which are wrong in some way, wrong in a disturbingly unfamiliar way,” said Prof. Salkovskis.
Well, Capt. Poindexter, I have a corollary theory: Clown makeup makes you look like a deranged lunatic bent on human suffering. You can’t look not-mortifying in clown makeup. Scarlett Johansson wouldn’t look not-mortifying in clown makeup. I mean, she’d be hot, but mortifying. So let us agree now to put an end to the use of clowns in decoration, advertising and culture. It might not solve everything, but I’d sleep a lot better.