The Scary Clown: A Fearful Archetype

The Scary Clown: A Fearful Archetype

For generations, people have feared clowns - and many have used that to their advantage.
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A new adaptation of the Stephen King novel It has been released, and with that, a whole new generation of kids can develop a fear of clowns and balloons. But it isn't just the 1990 miniseries starring Tim Curry that sparked the common phobia of clowns – purposely scary or just normal circus ones. The concept of a creepy clown has been a staple of pop culture over decades, if not centuries. To talk about every instance and every single “evil clown” in media and culture would fill an entire book, but there are several major ones that have become icons in their own right, so we'll look at those – unless of course you happen to be afraid of clowns, but in that case, you probably didn't click on this article anyway.

Of course, no discussion on evil clowns would be complete without looking at the Clown Prince of Crime himself, the Joker. Created by Bill Finger and Jerry Robinson (though all credit went to Bob Kane, see a previous article for that story), the character was inspired by the film adaptation of The Man Who Laughs. Since his first appearances in the pre-WWII comics, the Joker's design and mannerisms have evolved to instil fear in a changing audience, though the Comics Code made him go from being a psychotic murderer to a comedic clown (of course, adding to the whole “Clown Prince” motif). Usually dressed in a purple and green suit, his face white and lips bright red, the Joker has become one of the most iconic villains in history – and when his appearance is changed to make him scary and intimidating to a new audience, oftetimes it is met with negative reactions (see Jared Leto in Suicide Squad). Even still, his brand of dark comedy-based crime and violence has in some ways influenced many of the portrayals of creepy clowns, many using evil twists on classic “clown acts”, a trait that was popularized by the Joker. It should also be noted that Heath Ledger's turn as the Joker in the 2008 film The Dark Knight created an image of fear in itself, further establishing the character as the most famous scary clown.

In reality, serial killer John Wayne Gacy had previously worked as a clown, thus giving him the nickname “the Killer Clown.” Active in the 1970s, Gacy's subsequent arrest and trial were given intense media coverage, not unlike Jeffrey Dahmer less than fifteen years later. This was uncommon at the time, with the Manson family still fresh in the minds of the public (causing a rise in interest of serial killers) and a general concern over saftey of children. When not killing, Gacy was an active member in his Chicago community, often dressing up as a clown named “Pogo” to entertain children at parties and local events. Well-known and in good regard, Gacy was the last person one would expect to be a serial killer. But of course, that's usually what happens. As many children were growing up around the news, it is very likely that aspects of the story and the idea that those funny guys down at the carnival could turn around and harm you, the makeup hiding their real selves. Gacy murdered 33 people, all males between the ages of 14 and possibly up to 32 (several bodies have yet to be identified) – and despite his years of service and entertaining, he was still severely ill. His nickname and story has become part of American history, a story still being researched and read into today.

And yes, we have to look back to the 2016 clown sightings. Because that's the kind of world we live in, where for a period of time, we had to be on the lookout for creepy clowns. Some theorized that the clowns were actually just a viral marketing scheme for Rob Zombie's 31, a film involving a gang of murderous clowns, or the then-upcoming It (which had just revealed a promotional image of Pennywise before the sightings started). However, spokesmen for both films denied these claims, and several people claimed to have been attacked or witnessed a person in a clown suit around their areas. Schools banned students from wearing clown costumes, police were brought in due to threats on schools and other public facilities, and McDonald's scaled back appearances of their mascot Ronald McDonald (right there, you know it's a real crisis). These slowly started falling in sightings, and following the threats of a “clown purge” in which these clowns would attack people on Halloween night, the clown problem was pretty much over. Of course, with the release of It, there has been a few, but it's assumed those are just people trying to jumpstart the epidemic again, to no avail. However, red balloons have been tied to sewer grates in reference to the movie, but unlike the clowns of 2016, this is obviously just a little prank to scare the kids who sneaked in to see the R-rated movie.

So why are so many afraid of clowns? Is it the pale faces, bright clothes, and the way-too-happy mannerisms? Maybe it's the fact that the person under all that makeup may not be all there, and like John Wayne Gacy, you never know what people are capable of. As I said earlier, I could go on and on about different scary clowns and what they highlight and how they bring on feelings of fear and dread, but frankly we don't have that kind of time. Perhaps the fear is just like the fear of heights or fear of large crowds. It's a common phobia that everybody who has it has a different reasoning. Some don't like people in makeup and costumes to begin with. Others were exposed to Tim Curry in the 1990 It a little too young and it scarred them for life. Thousands of hours of research and investigations have been completed by experts (no not exactly clown experts, but scientists), and they found that many children are afraid of clowns, with no real reason why. I'd argue that it is at least partially brought on by their often unhuman appearance – white faces, bright colors, etc. It is unusual and oftentimes a little jarring to see. But hey, that's just an idea. It's just something that humanity will deal with until the end of time – and it doesn't look like there will be any stopping of the evil clown characters in media until then.

Cover Image Credit: Warner Bros. Televison/ABC

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Why High School Musicals Should Be As Respected As Sports Programs Are

The arts are important, too.
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When I was in middle school and high school, I felt like I lived for the musicals that my school orchestrated.

For those of you who don't know, a musical is an onstage performance wherein actors take on roles that involve singing, and often dancing, to progress the plot of the story. While it may sound a little bit nerdy to get up in front of an audience to perform in this manner, this is something you cannot knock until you try it.

For some reason, though, many public schools have de-funded arts programs that would allow these musicals to occur, while increasing the funding for sports teams. There are a few things that are being forgotten when sports are valued more than musical programs in high schools.

Much like athletic hobbies, an actor must try-out, or audition, to participate in a musical. Those best suited for each role will be cast, and those who would not fit well are not given a part. While this may sound similar to trying out for say, basketball, it is an apples to oranges comparison.

At a basketball try-out, those who have the most experience doing a lay-up or shooting a foul shot will be more likely to succeed, no questions asked. However, for an audition, it is common to have to learn a piece of choreography upon walking in, and a potential cast member will be required to sing a selected piece with only a few days of preparation.

There are many more variables involved with an audition that makes it that much more nerve-racking.

The cast of a school musical will often rehearse for several months to perfect their roles, with only several nights of performance at the end. Many sports practice for three or four days between each of their respective competitions. While this may seem to make sports more grueling, this is not always the case.

Musicals have very little pay-off for a large amount of effort, while athletic activities have more frequent displays of their efforts.

Athletes are not encouraged to but are allowed to make mistakes. This is simply not allowed for someone in a musical, because certain lines or entrances may be integral to the plot.

Sometimes, because of all the quick changes and the sweat from big dance numbers, the stage makeup just starts to smear. Despite this, an actor must smile through it all. This is the part of musicals that no sport has: introspection.

An actor must think about how he or she would respond in a given situation, be it saddening, maddening, frightening, or delightful. There is no sport that requires the knowledge of human emotion, and there is especially no sport that requires an athlete to mimic such emotion. This type of emotional exercise helps with communications and relationships.

Sports are great, don't get me wrong. I loved playing volleyball, basketball, track, and swimming, but there were no experiences quite like those from a musical. Sports challenge the body with slight amounts of tactic, while musicals require much physical and mental endurance.

The next time you hear someone say that it's “just a musical," just remember that musicals deserve as much respect as sports, since they are just as, if not more demanding.

Cover Image Credit: Cincinnati Arts

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10 Shows To Watch If You're Sick Of 'The Office'

You can only watch it so many times...

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"The Office" is a great show, and is super easy to binge watch over and over again! But if you're like me and you're looking for something new to binge, why not give some of these a try? These comedies (or unintentional comedies) are a great way to branch out and watch something new.

1. "New Girl"

A show about a group of friends living in an apartment in a big city? Sound familiar? But seriously, this show is original and fresh, and Nick Miller is an icon.

2. "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend"

Ya'll have been sleeping on this show. It's a musical comedy about a girl that follows her ex boyfriend across the country. I thought it sounded horrible so I put it off for WAY too long, but then I realized how incredible the cast, music, writing, and just EVERYTHING. It really brings important issues to light, and I can't say too much without spoiling it. Rachel Bloom (the creator of the show) is a woman ahead of her time.

3. "Jane the Virgin"

I know... another CW show. But both are so incredible! Jane The Virgin is a tongue-in-cheek comedy and parody of telenovelas. It has so many twists and turns, but somehow you find yourself laughing with the family.

4. "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"

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Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been in popular news lately since its cancellation by Fox and sequential pickup by NBC. It's an amazing show about cops in, you guessed it, Brooklyn. Created by the amazing Michael Schur, it's a safe bet that if you loved "The Office" you'll also love his series "Brooklyn Nine-Nine".

5. "The Good Place"

Another series created by the talented Micael Schur, it's safe to say you've probably already heard about this fantasy-comedy series. With a wonderful cast and writing that will keep you on your toes, the show is another safe bet.

6. "Fresh Off The Boat"

Seriously, I don't know why more people don't watch this show. "Fresh Off The Boat" focuses on an Asian family living in Orlando in the mid 90s. Randall Parks plays a character who is the polar opposite of his character in "The Interview" (Yeah, remember that horrifying movie?) and Constance Wu is wonderful as always.

7. "Full House"

Why not go back to the basics? If you're looking for a nostalgic comedy, go back all the way to the early days of Full House. If you're a '98-'00 baby like me, you probably grew up watching the Tanner family on Nick at Night. The entire series is available on Hulu, so if all else fails just watch Uncle Jesse and Rebecca fall in love again or Michelle fall off a horse and somehow lose her memory.

8. "Secret Life of the American Teenager"

Okay, this show is not a comedy, but I have never laughed so hard in my life. It's off Netflix but it's still on Hulu, so you can watch this masterpiece there. Watch the terrible acting and nonsense plot twists drive this show into the ground. Somehow everyone in this school dates each other? And also has a baby? You just have to watch. It might be my favorite show of all time.

9. "Scrubs"

Another old show that is worth watching. If you ignore the last season, Scrubs is a worthwhile medical comedy about doctors in both their personal and medical life. JD and Turk's relationship is one to be jealous of, and one hilarious to watch. Emotional at times, this medical drama is superior to any medical drama that's out now.

10. "Superstore"

I was resistant to watch this one at first, because it looked cheesy. But once I started watching I loved it! The show is a workplace comedy, one you're sure to love if you can relate to working in retail. If you liked the Office, you'll like Superstore!

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