The Year of The Clown: No Joke.

Full disclosure:  I hate clowns.  I hated them before American Horror Story, and before they started hiding in bushes, even before Stephen King’s It.  I hated clowns before Trump was elected, before The Purge, and before Insane Clown Posse.  I’m guessing the recent trend of evil clowns in movies (and in the woods) means I’m far from alone in my fear of clowns.  You hate clowns, too? Then we can be cool.

AHS clown

Maybe the history books will call 2017 the Year of the Clown. The TV series American Horror Story, known for basing each season on the current cultural climate has chosen killer clowns for this season’s theme in AHS Cult.  Donald Trump was elected, empowering a bunch of hate-filled ass-clowns to turn their politics into hate crimes (I mean on the show. I mean in reality. I mean both on the show and in reality). The leering faces of hate, twisted with the joy of pursuing evil fills our TV screens, making us question, like Sarah Paulson’s character, if we are losing our mind. The series brilliantly marries our own time’s actual news footage with scripted terror and the result is disquieting–a horror show staged not in a nightmare but in our all too real nightmarish political environment.   Be scared.  This shit is real af.


Also crawling out from the gutters and onto the big screen is Pennywise, Stephen King’s killer clown.  This clown is really not playing.  Like all clowns, the smile painted on his face is a lie, and he really doesn’t love kids like he pretends to.  This clown runs around killing people even as the townspeople remain blithely unaware. Just like the All-Lives-Matter crowd, they refuse to see that there are people in their community, vulnerable kids (*cough cough* DACA *cough*) being taken out by a killer in their midst. Pennywise terrorizes the kids before sinking back into the sewer, sure to return again, like the battle over immigration.  When will the town band together and once and for all address the evil in their midst?


Creepy ass clowns are sneaking off the screen and into reality.  Last year the interweb was abuzz with stories of clown sightings–humans dressed in full clown regalia standing at the edge of woods, near play grounds, out in the street. And they weren’t makin’ balloon animals.  Police were called, chat rooms exploded with stories but no clowns were captured and unmasked.  The only thing they left in their wake was more fear in an already frightened country.

Clowns are supposed to bring joy, or at least that’s what they tell you.  Their painted faces are frozen in exaggerated smiles hiding their pain sometimes, their intentions other times.  What always bothered me was that they were so disingenuous.  Their smile a facade, their gaiety only there to lull you into laughter.  If clowns are so happy, why do they hide their face?  Their bright colors look tainted in shabby silk. I take umbrage at their afro wigs.  They hit each other and kick each other and stuff each other into cars.  If I wanted to see that shit as a kid I could have just watched the school bullies at work.

My neighbor loves clowns.  She’s never told me this, but walking past her house in the evening, I can see she has large clown paintings….in all the rooms in her house.  This is not a lie. In the living room, she has a giant painting of a crying clown.  I mean, it hangs in the room where she relaxes, a big sad face painted white, mouth gaping and painted tears running down one cheek.  Her bedroom sports several small paintings of sad clowns lit by a red lamp–wtf? What kind of choice in artwork is that? Every night when I see it I am struck by how unhappy you have to be to choose crying clowns as a home decor theme. Perhaps unrelated she also has a sign hanging outside her house announcing that her home is a politically correct free zone, that if you don’t like her gods guns and bible attitude you can stay away.  I notice no one comes to visit.  Should I tell her liberals are super fun?


I’m terrified that clowns are such a popular trope, only slightly vindicated that you all finally see clowns for the horrible disgusting frauds that they are. Clowns on the screen, clowns in my neighborhood, clowns in the white house: I do not trust them.  They’re not trustworthy.  That’s the trouble with clowns: they’re serious, even when they’re kidding–they mean it even when they’re laughing. That’s their thing, faking emotions, forcing laughter at things that aren’t funny, hurting each other for sport, painting on tears like they are a joke.

If there is one thing I’ve learned from It, AHS and every other clown horror movie is that the real danger is that no one believes in killer clowns. Like the clowns hiding in the bushes, even when you see them, no one believes you.  Everyone acts like you can’t tell bozo is there, but if you have eyes to see the foolishness you know. There is harm in painting your face white and demanding joy like a hostage taker.  There is danger in hitting your friends just for cheap laughs. Clown violence is funny till they start running over people in their clown cars.    Don’t let the killer clowns win–point them out, believe each other, and don’t let the joke be on us.  Half joking.  not joking. Stay woke.

P.S. is there a mask off joke here? asking for a friend….

Author: Susan X Jane

Susan X Jane is a diversity educator, speaker, and trainer and coach. A former professor and media literacy activist, she now consults with organizations looking to make sense of our current cultural shift. She thinks a lot about media and race…a lot...and writes and speaks about media…and race... and encourages everyone she meets to think about the way our identity shapes our experiences, ideas, and beliefs about the world. If you're reading this, she wants you to think about it too. Want to talk about it? Let's go.

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