Why are so many people afraid of clowns?
Some people are absolutely freaked out by clowns, as if they were some Hollywood horror monster. I don't get it. They are silly looking, and meant to make us laugh.
I am one of those people. I can't explain the reason why, but I have found them creepy since I was a little kid. I wish I did know why. It does seem rather a silly thing to be phobic about - but I will go out of my way to avoid clowns.
I am one of those people... I am terrified of clowns! I think my fear comes from not being able to see the person's face. I am always concerned there is something hiding under all that makeup. I also feel the same way about people dressed in mascot outfits and the Easter Bunny.
It is funny how children are taught all about "stranger danger" as kids, yet expected to be OK with strangers dressed in weird outfits. As a kid, I still looked at clowns, Santa Claus, and the Easter Bunny as strangers... except they were only more horrifying to me because I could not see their actual faces. I always wondered if they were hiding their true identity for some reason. Maybe that is what happens when kids are allowed to watch too many horror movies. ;-)
As an adult, I am still disturbed by clowns. I don't understand how a grown adult finds joy in dressing up like a clown. I also think about the serial killer John Wayne Gacy when I see clowns now. He liked to dress up like a clown... and kill boys in his spare time. Never trust a clown!
:-) I have a friend whose family used to dress up as clowns and visit children's hospitals. They didn't sound like scary clowns, and the kids in the hospital reportedly loved them--especially those in the ICU/cancer and burn units (certain death).
When I was about 3, an uncle came to visit. He dressed up with my grandmother's red lipstick and put it over his mouth like a clown. Then he got on his hands and knees and crawled through the kitchen to scare me. It worked. I was terrified of clowns after that. Once I thought I was old enough to get over it, I saw Steven King's IT. That did me in.
You're brave to see "IT", knowing your fear of clowns! You tried to face your fears, that's a very good thing! Perhaps Steven King was a bit like jumping into a pool of acid, however: too much too soon. :-) Most clowns kinda freak me out, too.
They creep me out too and always have. I'm not sure why. Just one of those weird phobias.
I think maybe because of all the movies and how "horror" clowns are betrayed. I have to admit the clown in Stephen King's novel "IT" was pretty scary.
I am afraid of clowns and really do not know why... No traumatic stories or anything. It's irrational. So if anyone finds the answer here I' be glad to know!
I suspect for some it's due to the stories cited already, for others, it's fashionable to be frightened of them, and for others, it's the fact that the real person is masked. As a former (ministry) clown myself, I can say that it was a humbling experience to 'die to yourself' and put on the colors of death and resurrection, then carry a message of life. As a clinical counselor, I have desensitized people to clowns...this is done by allowing them to watch you put on your costume and make up (something that most clowns do not allow). As I do this, I would explain each step in the process, relating it to my faith and spiritual mission in ministry clowning....usually did the trick for folks. Any clown that tries to frighten people does not deserve the title.
krillco, that's fascinating! Kudos to you for helping people over their fears of clowns through your work. I also agree that any clown who tries to frighten people does not deserve the title! (Even non-scary clowns are a little creepy to me, though.)
I think that with me I know that a clown is a person in disguise. However, the disguise is extreme (bright colors and often odd shapes), and many clowns behave unnaturally and very unexpectedly (compared with most humans). So, I think it's the costume and the behavior of the particular clown that, for me, determines whether I'm a little freaked out by it or not. After all, the rational brain knows the clown is a human that is acting, but I still am surprised at the antics and magic tricks and tumbling that many clowns do unexpectedly and vigorously. It's the unexpected actions combined with the weird, exaggerated costume that kinda freaks me out a little.
The court jester is, I expect, the precursor to modern-day clowns.
I once read that kings (they didn't mention queens or other court nobles) of yesteryear kept a "court jester" (clown) around to lighten their mood when they were stressed and to be a punching bag (literally) that the king could beat up if he so chose to relieve anxiety. Good court jesters were somewhat (if not literally) slaves, pretended to be mentally deranged to a degree, and were allowed to interrupt meetings/audiences stating what the king really wished to say but couldn't, and poking fun at the supplicant when appropriate (for which the king might beat him up, even though the message was exactly what the king wanted to say but couldn't due to his office). The jester led a dangerous and typically unnaturally shortened life, but also it was a position of power in that way--the jester was privy to some of the most private meetings of the king, therefore discretion was essential to not getting himself murdered by the king if he stepped out of line or said the wrong thing (which happened frequently). Any suspicion of treachery would mean instant death, of course, too. Hence why the jester was essentially/literally a slave, often kept in chains to prevent his freedom of movement to prevent treachery/corruption. A good, smart court jester must have been a boon and great advisor to a king in his own way, but a smart king would take no chances with the jester's freedom, either.
Sorry for the tangent; I just found that fascinating and wanted to share.
The opposite of a scary clown could be a friendly ghost, and both have the element of surprise in common. You take something with clear associations and turn it upside down. The reason why we're scared is not only because of evil looks and scary behavior, but because the phenomenon or experience compromises our general ideas of what clowns, ghosts etc. are supposed to represent. This is how I see it, anyway. I find clowns less scary after them being overused in different medias, but I will admit I was probably shitting my pants when I saw an evil clown for the first time as a child.
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