Happy International Clown Week. Didn’t know this was a weeklong celebration? Me neither. But it is, so here’s some clown talk to take to your next Zoom meeting: Richard Nixon was the president that made International Clown Week official. Do what you want with that information.
There have been many different schools of thought on clowns. Whether you look to Stephen King’s It or to a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey production, clowns either scare the daylights out of you or are a source of joy.
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However, starting in 2016 the clown scene changed a bit. Maybe you were walking down a dark, dimly-lit street. Or, perhaps you were enjoying a stroll to the convenience store or a walk home from school in broad daylight when suddenly, a crazed clown brandishing a fake weapon appears out of a bush, from behind a building, or seemingly out of nowhere. This actually happened.
The 2016 clown sightings appeared in almost every U.S. state, collectively scaring hoards of innocents much to the delight of evil clowns everywhere. Some even got out of hand, rightfully so, as a clown running up on you unprovoked in this day and age may be a cause for retaliation. It happened right here in Ohio, as you can see in this video of a man beating up a clown who appeared on his property brandishing a weapon.
You might even remember it happening pretty often around Central Ohio as Halloween neared.
But where did this phenomenon come from, and was it as harmful as some people made it out to be?
While tracing the origins of this social media clown phase is not an exact science, some believe it began with creepy clown sightings in Northampton, England where three local filmmakers just happened to be creating their own spin on King’s Pennywise the Dancing Clown.
Then there’s the story of Naples, Florida’s “Wrinkles the Clown”, who made his first appearance in a YouTube video in 2015, crawling out from under a little girl’s bed to scare her. If the video is real, this is some pretty crazy stuff.
Fliers for Wrinkles started to pop up all over Naples, directing people where kids could talk to Wrinkles. There was even an advertisement put out for parents to call a number if their children were being naughty to arrange for Wrinkles to pay them a visit.
Of course, some people thought that the parents making the phone calls were awful for terrorizing their children, but the Wrinkles the Clown issue brought up a pretty profound point in a 2019 documentary: how is getting a clown to come over your house to scare your children into behaving any different than the fear that religion instills in children?
Plain and simple: there are good clowns and bad clowns. And although we’re not seeing the scary ones coming up from sewers lately, 2020 is bound to be due for another clown sighting resurgence.