Stop Clowning Around

By Anna Krieske

I’m sure by now everyone has heard stories about the clown craze across the nation. People dressed as clowns have been popping up all over the country.All but six states have reported clown sightings. These masked and makeup-clad monsters have been engaging in different activities; ranging from harmlessly standing on the side of the road inciting fear, to bashing at car windows and attempting to lure children away into the woods.

These events have affected ACA’s own Josiah Head. The ACA 11th grader was in Oregon city in a Panda express parking lot when he got a surprise. Glancing around, he saw two different people in clown masks and wigs in cars. They were shuffling around a bit, but when they noticed him watching (and filming), they just stared. He says he was not afraid they would act menacingly and that he thought “they were just goofing and gaffing”. Masks and clown costumes were banned from spirit week as a result.

The first sighting was in Northampton England in 2013, three years ago. This clown was discovered to be Alex Powell, an amateur filmmaker who can be quoted as saying “I just want to amuse people. Most people enjoy being a bit freaked out, then they laugh about it afterwards,” but that was three years ago.

The episode that sparked this year’s craze was a sighting in Greenville South Carolina. A young boy ran to his mother, Donna Arnold, saying there were two clowns at the edge of a wooded area trying to lure him away. When the police found no clowns they told Mrs. Arnold. She just gestured to her a dent on her car, and claimed the clowns bashed it with a chain. From then on the the killer clown craze only grew.

There have been other episodes in Oregon as well. In regards to a Portland clown rumor, Sergeant Pete Simpson of the Portland Police Department said,  “In Portland, where Darth Vader rides a unicycle and has a fire-breathing set of bagpipes, clown sightings might just be an average Tuesday.” (Oregonian/Oregonlive, Lizzy Acker)

Not all these clowns are harmless; one video shows a clown relentlessly bashing a windshield, raining small shards of glass onto the passengers.

There is little information on why this is happening. Speculation that it’s all a marketing scheme for a movie has been popular lately . Two films, Stephen King’s “It 2” (to premiere September of 2017) and Rob Zombie’s “31” (premiered September of this year), were suspected of using guerilla marketing techniques to create a buzz about their films. Both have denied having any connection to the events, Stephen King even tweeted “Hey, guys, time to cool the clown hysteria–most of em are good, cheer up the kiddies, make people laugh”.  Beyond these (now disproven) theories, there are no plausible explanations.

Many laugh at both the clowns and those afraid of them. Psychologically a fear of a person who’s face is concealed is understandable. There is a theory called the uncanny valley, which describes the phenomena of people being disturbed or disgusted by something the closer it looks to a real human. This is why something similar that seems human but isn’t is so off putting, such as hyper realistic robots or animation, or even someone in a mask. For clowns specifically the fear should be blamed on Stephen King, the writer of “It”, and John Wayne Gacy, who not only dressed creepily as a clown, but also murdered 33 people. But those are fictional and in the past, the clowns of 2016 are typically harmless, and like every other fad, these harrowing harlequins are already fading.

Teague, Matthew. “Clown Sightings: The Day the Craze Began.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 2016. Web. 4 Nov. 2016.

Http:// “Clown Sightings List: Which States Have Reported Threatening Clowns?” Heavycom. N.p., 26 Oct. 2016. Web. 5 Nov. 2016

Oregonian/OregonLive, Lizzy Acker | The. “Woman Says She Was Accosted by Clown in Downtown Portland.” N.p., 30 Sept. 2016. Web. 5 Nov. 2016

Hill, Patrick. “‘Northampton Clown’ Unmasked as Alex Powell a University Student and Budding Film Maker – Mirror Online.” Mirror. N.p., 12 Oct. 2013. Web. 5 Nov. 2016

“Uncanny Valley.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 5 Nov. 2016

Head, Josiah. Personal interview. 5 November 2016