No More Clowning Around.
This week, my school had to send home both a pair of robo-calls, and a letter from the Principal, informing the school community and neighborhood that there was no danger of Clown Attacks at our school site. That actually happened…I couldn’t make that up if I tried.
Let’s be clear here….I’m not saying that a Clown Attack happened. I’m saying, pretty simply, that we had to inform the area around our school that there was no danger OF a Clown Attack. That seems to me the kind of thing that you should never have to do, since, well…there isn’t really a detailed history of Clown Attacks.
That being said…clown based hysteria has gone back as far as 1981, at least in an easily trackable and verifiable fashion. Also, there was at least one real life serial killing murder clown, John Wayne Gacy…and the media of the past thirty years has no shortage of disturbed, and disturbing clowns. Still…Death By Clown is a pretty rarified event, despite the media’s presentation of the general Clown Menace.
You actually shouldn’t be worried about it, despite what Social Media seems to be saying. Still, if you are like my students, and INSIST that there is a Plague of Murder Clowns upon us, here’s a handy real-time map. I LOVE maps, so this is a Cool Thing. You should click the link. So far, there have been about 100 sightings, with the most concentrated area being the Northeast and South. So really, this is not a West Coast Problem.
I’m not going to lie to you, True Believers…seeing a clown wielding a knife would scare anyone and as pranks go, this one isn’t funny. But in the grand scheme of things, 100 sightings is not that big a deal. Let’s do some comparison of statistics. You know what kills 400,000 people each year? Global warming. Seriously, the verifiable effects of Global Warming do in 400,000 people a year. Clowns, even John Wayne Gacy, can’t compete with that kind of output. Cars, which I love, are also far more dangerous than clowns, and that hasn’t kept people from using them. Admittedly, though, neither global warming nor cars wear greasepaint, and a serial killer never dressed up as global warming. Those are legit counterpoints.
Don’t think it hasn’t gotten out of hand, even with the clearly low stats on actual threatening Clown Sightings. It’s one of those things where everyone knows a person who knows a person who saw a clown somewhere. This has resulted in some real Idiot Behavior, especially at schools. At some universities, students have become vigilante clown-hunters.
Come on, people. This is not necessary. We have Batman for that.
However, there are some more interesting statistics, about this Clown Outbreak. As far as we know, nobody who has reported seeing a clown has been seriously hurt. That said, a teenager wearing a clown mask was stabbed to death by a man in Pennsylvania. (The report makes sure to note that the mask was “pushed up onto his head, not over his face.”). So…the teenager was stabbed for pretty much bad clothing choices, which is uncool. Not something you should pay for with your life, and precisely why we let Batman, a professional, deal with all Clown Related Problems.
Interestingly…while it’s obviously not illegal to wear a clown costume, some police departments have said that wearing a clown costume just to freak people out is prohibited. Many people have been arrested. I’m not so sure what to say about that…i mean, how do you prove that someone put on a clown suit just to freak people out? It seems kind of like an intangible motive.
The Clown Panic is another example of mass hysteria, not unlike the hysteria over Dungeons & Dragons inspiring satanism. There just have never been all that many Satanists in the world, ever. On the bright side, this hysteria hasn’t actually gotten violent yet, unlike the “Slenderman” case a while back, where two girls stabbed a third because they wanted to please a fictional character.
Robert Bartholomew, a sociologist at New Zealand’s Botany College, told “The Guardian” that the fear over clowns comes from two things: a fear of otherness and social media. Social media spreads information quickly and that makes us think that the danger is bigger than it actually is. And when it comes to “otherness,” a clown has that part down pretty well.
Thanks a lot, Social Media.
In the research post, I found out a fact that completely Blew My Mind. There are ACTUAL Therapy Clowns. They EXIST.
One article from the Journal of Health Psychology found that a therapy clown designed to cheer children up made them feel less anxious before a surgery. Results from another study, this time published in Natural Medicine Journal, found that playing with therapeutic clowns helped kids with respiratory illness get better a little faster. Interestingly, both of these studies were Italian while the 2008 study was British, so there may be a cultural element at play. It could be that Americans are more or less trained to hate and fear clowns, by pop culture influences.
Therapy Clown, then, in the art above, is kind of justifiably upset. The victim of Anti-Clown Sentiment, as it were. Since Therapy Clown has been a pretty positive character, I feel understandably bad for her, as do the protagonist and the cast.
In all fairness…most clowns that have appeared even in this strip, have been menacing, evil, and generally incompetent. Therapy Clown has been the exception to that basic rule.
Still…I ain’t ‘fraid of no clowns.
Take that to the bank, True Believers.