The recent spate of so-called killer clowns in the United States has led to people realizing that they are, in fact, coulrophobic, or afraid of clowns. And who can blame them, really? The killer clowns trope is part of our pop culture zeitgeist thanks to such anti-heroes as the Joker. It’s only natural, then, that we would equate clowns with killers, and these news reports are nothing, if not confirmation bias. Recent articles, however, suggest that not only is this fear of killer clowns unfounded, but it’s all an elaborate guerrilla marketing hoax to promote the upcoming reboot of Stephen King’s It.
This speculation was first started by Rolling Stone, whose killer clowns article labeled the spate of incidents as a terrifying hoax. Rolling Stone pointed out that while all of the reports of these killer clowns seem to report the same thing — a creepy clown, or clowns, living in the woods, trying to lure kids with violence — nothing substantive has come of these reports.
No one has ended up dead — let alone injured — as a result of these creepy clown appearances, and people from many different states (such as Virginia, Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and New York) have been arrested if they’re caught wearing clown costumes. Some states even have laws that make it illegal for anyone over the age of 16 to wear a mask with the intent to intimidate or harass.
So how do we know that this is all a hoax, and an attempt to promote Stephen King’s It?
According to People Magazine, there’s simply no other logical explanation for this killer clowns phenomenon. People spoke to Benjamin Radford, author of a book titled — what else? — Bad Clowns, and he explained that this phenomenon periodically pops up in American folklore from time to time, but that it has no basis in fact. This is not to say that killer clowns can’t exist (remember John Wayne Gacy?), but it is to say that, as far as American crime is concerned, there’s no basis in fact for our fear.
“America is once again in the middle of social anxiety. [But] the fact is, to date, there are no confirmed reports of any clowns actually abducting, harming, killing [or] molesting kids. There just aren’t. There are zero.”
This also isn’t the first time a Hollywood studio has used guerrilla marketing techniques to promote their newest offering, and it definitely isn’t the first time that guerrilla techniques have led to disastrous results. Perhaps the most infamous example is the 2007 Aqua Teen Hunger Force guerrilla promotion by Cartoon Network that temporarily caused a terrorism scare in the city of Boston, after the police and the fire department mistook the LED cards featuring the Mooninite characters for being improvised explosive devices.
Still, according to The Hollywood Reporter, the studio behind the production of Stephen King’s It reboot completely denies any connection to the killer clowns sightings, and they further deny that they have dispatched the killer clowns throughout the states as part of a guerrilla marketing campaign. Through their representatives, they’ve released a one-sentence statement.
“New Line is absolutely not involved in the rash of clown sightings.”
The Barbourville, Kentucky, police have some invaluable advice for those wishing to be part of this killer clowns phenomenon.
“While dressing up is not, in and of itself against the law, doing so in public and thereby creating an unnecessary sense of alarm is illegal. If you create such a situation that violates the law you will be charged and arrested. Also falsely reporting incidents to law enforcement is illegal and can lead to arrest.”
Do you think these killer clowns sightings are nothing more than a promotion for Stephen King’s It? Leave your thoughts about these killer clowns in the comments below.
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