A Case for Not Being Scared of Clowns

Some ideas for defusing the tension


This week, Target announced that they’re pulling clown costumes from shelves after a rash of “creepy clown” sightings nationwide had the meme-hungry media all hot and bothered. This isn’t my favorite genre of story. I’d largely foregone the articles and specifics of the situation, but would’ve described myself as “generally aware” of America’s current clown situation if you’d asked me.

But then I saw this Twitter poll from Rochester-area ABC News affiliate WHAM:

34% scared sounds about right, but 50% of people are out here prepared to be afraid of clowns on a case-by-case basis?! Everyone’s entitled to their phobias, and I acknowledge that in certain cases you can’t help what you hate, but I also feel very strongly that clowns are deeply dumb and there is no reason to assign them enough power to be scary. People dress up for all kinds of jobs—why does this one freak people out so much?

When I ask myself, “How am I not scared of clowns?” I can come up with a couple answers, and I’d like to share them with you now in the event that it calms some of your own fears.

Reasons clowns are not powerful totems of evil:

  1. Clown is too funny a word. Especially when delivered in anger or disgust. “Get a load of these clowns.” Try it. “Clown.” Dumb.
  2. Clowns are bad drag queens. Maybe you are a RuPaul’s Drag Race viewer and will be comforted to observe the intricacies of the paint job and ill-fitting polyfiber your everyday clown throws together for work. If you’re looking at a clown and starting to feel a little shaky, take a peek at the stitching on their satin unisuit. That’s some Party City shit. Did you peep their wig line and neck for good makeup blending? Cause you won’t find it. Most clowns I’ve seen don’t give a fuck about craftsmanship. How’re they gonna execute an elaborate murder plan if they can’t execute a casual Tuesday contour?
  3. [Extremely Chandler Bing voice] Who is a clown? Depictions of clowns tend to be old white men (which, granted, is the murderiest demographic), but when I think about who might get joy out of dressing up like a cartoon for others, I often picture someone with some pain. Someone who is maybe trying to counteract feelings about their own life by bringing joy to people who are currently children*. These are broad brushstrokes, but it’s nice to consider. A person who’s willing to look ridiculous so they can possibly bring a bright moment to someone else’s day is, while maybe not your cup of tea, probably a sweet lil shelter dog in certain capacities. And it’s hard to be scared of that.

Anyway, who knows? Phobias are real and so are clowns. I’m not your doctor. But I feel like reminding yourself that this is a person—looking for those signs that this is someone who has cultivated an image and not some freak Pokémon who just looks this way—is a strong place to start in defusing some of the tension.

Bring on the clown sightings, tbh. Clown pride.


*Or maybe we are in a movie and this clown once had a little boy, and the little boy died of leukemia, and the only thing that brought the little boy joy during his time in the hospital was a clown who would come and visit the children’s ward. So after his son’s death, the father quits his job as a cubicle man and becomes someone else’s clown. Damn. Call me, Hollywood.