If you don't have a healthy fear of clowns, you've probably never seen Pennywise before. He's the gruesome, supernatural clown from Stephen King's IT, but he isn't the only scary clown out there. So many people find clowns terrifying, in fact, that the word "Coulrophobia" - the fear of clowns - was coined for the phenomenon.
This is bad news for real clowns, as their bread and butter is making people happy, which they can't really do if children are terrified at the mere sight of them. Many clowns blame Stephen King and his infamous creation for their unpopular image. So what do clowns think of Pennywise the Dancing Clown? Unsurprisingly, they're not huge fans, and many would prefer everyone just forget about him.
In a statement from the World Clown Association, they point out that Pennywise isn't really a clown at all. He's actually a fictional, extra-dimensional being that feeds on fear, and therefore would not be allowed into any modern clown organization.
According to the WCA, clowns should share "laughs and 'comic relief' everywhere for the positive, wholesome, enjoyment of their audiences." They also condemn anyone who dresses up like a clown in public to scare people, saying this behavior is "not the act of a professional clown."
Fear of clowns is on the rise, and the full-on epidemic of "evil clown" sightings in 2016 certainly didn't help the case of the professional entertainers. While most people laughed at the ridiculous headlines, the clowns themselves were most fearful.
According to Pam Moody, the president of the WCA, clowns have been taking major financial hits because of the creepy clown craze. In Moody's words, "People had school shows and library shows that were canceled. That’s very unfortunate. The very public we're trying to deliver positive and important messages to aren't getting them."
Since being a clown is already an unsteady profession, these canceled jobs may put some serious financial stress on clowns.
Coulrophobia isn't just hurting clowns' wallets, it's putting them into conflict with the law. With the mysterious rash of clown sightings in 2016 and the release of IT and its sequel in 2017 and 2019, respectively, police are being called more frequently for clown-related incidents.
One member of the WCA had her entire car surrounded by police after she arrived early to a job at a birthday party. The clown decided to wait in her car, but an alarmed neighbor called the police to report a suspicious clown in the neighborhood. Four officers arrived on the scene, though she was not taken into custody.
The WCA is very upset about the scary clown trend. They even released a public statement condemning all "scary" clowns in order to boost the public's opinion on their colorful form of performance. The WCA is making an effort to end the association between clowns and horror, which is extremely difficult given the popularity of IT.
The group is loud and clear about their disapproval of the films and the message they send about their profession, and they hope people can once again associate clowns with laughter and fun.