When Stephen Sondheim wrote the song “Send In the Clowns” for his musical “A Little Night Music,” this is not what he meant.
There have been many theories discussing why the clowns have been making their appearances, but the one thing that about the situation that is certain is that these clowns are incredibly unsettling.
Some of the main theories include a viral marketing plan, a social media craze or just an early start to Halloween.
In December 2017, Warner Bros. will be releasing a remake of the miniseries “It.” The miniseries that the movie is based on was released in 1990, and it starred Tim Curry as Pennywise, a demon that poses as a child-killing clown.
With the newest adaptation of the Stephen King novel coming to theaters, it is possible that this clown craze started as a viral marketing scheme on behalf of the studio that fans took too far.
Another possibility for the recent clown sightings could be a social media trend. Individuals are seeing posts and videos about the clown sightings and deciding that they want to be a part of the trend, whether it is through dressing up as a clown or posting something about it online. It is a similar mindset that goes along with telling scary stories, but instead of telling the story around a campfire, people are snapping a picture with their phones or typing an update on their laptops.
Not only are the clown sightings a bit spooky, but a few incidents have also involved threats of violence, or actual violence against the clowns or people who have spotted them.
These recent clown sightings have enhanced the public’s fear of clowns and have given clowns bad publicity.
For the clowns that are lighthearted and silly, the creepy clowns do not represent the true meaning of being a clown. According to the “Eight Clown Commandments” established by Clowns of America, International, the actions of the spooky clowns violate these commandments.
The first commandment states, “ I will keep my acts, performance and behavior in good taste while I am in costume and makeup. I will remember at all times that I have been accepted as a member of the clown club only to provide others, principally children, with clean clown comedy entertainment. I will remember that a good clown entertains others by making fun of himself or herself and not at the expense or embarrassment of others.”
Glenn Kohlberger, professional clown and former president of Clowns of America, International, who is also known as “Phillip D. Beaker,” or “Clyde D. Scope,” discussed how clowns are not mean to bring fear and anxiety, but the exact opposite.
"Clowning comes from the heart," Kohlberger said. "We lead with our hearts so of course we're going to feel hurt when we see scary clowns on TV or read about imposters putting on makeup and running around trying to make people upset.
Kohlberger mentioned that people in the clowning community often refer to people like the spooky clowns as “Lipstick Clowns,” because they are not trying to bring actual joy to people, they just buy a costume and mask and like to run around scaring people.
At the moment, there is no clear sign of when the clown sightings will decrease. With Halloween at the end of the month, there is a chance that more of these “Lipstick Clowns” will appear. No matter what the case is, it is important for people to remain safe, and for clowns to remain joyful.