Stephen King, author of the definitive killer clown horror novel It, and a few actual professional clowns are banding together to fight back against all the anti-clown sentiment running rampant in today’s pop culture scene thanks to the recent rash of real-life “killer” clown sightings along the East Coast. They have even gone so far as to create a campaign called “Clown Lives Matter,” and Stephen King has tweeted out reminding the public that “most of ’em are good.”
It has proven nearly impossible over the past few weeks to avoid hearing about the “clown mania,” as Stuff calls it, that has been sweeping the US. This mania is not of the fictional type that one can find in a Stephen King book either – it is real and far more sinister. Beginning on the East Coast, near Stephen King’s home state of Maine, and spreading to the midwest, people dressed as clowns have been threatening civilians. The threats may be as passive as hanging out at the edge of a wooded area and beckoning to passersby or as direct as actually chasing after people like Stephen King’s Pennywise. They have led to twelve arrests, as well as many unsolved crimes.
As one might expect, all this business involving real-life evil clowns (or, at least, people masquerading as such) has not been great for the welfare of existing clowns. And again, this is not about the contents of a Stephen King work. Professional clowns still make up a large part of the birthday party and festival entertainment workforce, and many of them have been reporting a sharp decline in business as of late.
Daily News reports that Jordan Jones, one such performer from Maryland, has begun a Facebook campaign called “Clown Lives Matter” to push back against all of the clown hate that has been popping up lately.
“Everyone took this as a joke, but it’s really kind of serious now. I just want all these teenagers to know that it’s not a game anymore. You’re ruining my job and other actors around the world.”
Jones is far from the only one, too.
“It’s horrible that they’re using this avenue to hurt people or to scare people,” said Debi Saylor Pierce, an Albuquerque woman who has for years made her living as “Twinkles the Clown,” in an interview with KOAT.
“I hope it doesn’t have a negative impact, but I don’t see how it can’t because it’s increasing people’s fears for clowns. October is usually a really great month for me. My business has slowed down, now I’m wondering if this is related.”
Pierce cites two likely reasons she thinks the unfortunate clown epidemic might be happening now, of all times.
First, she says, it is nearing Halloween, and people are getting into the “holiday spirit.” In fact, according to Bustle, similar clown epidemics have occurred in the weeks preceding Halloween in years past.
Second, the recent production of the movie adaptation for Stephen King’s iconic It, which largely centers around a shapeshifting monster who generally appears as a clown and lures children into secluded places before murdering them, has gone viral as of late. People have been going absolutely nuts for the Stephen King film and what it has to offer, and it is very reasonable of Pierce to say that it could be a major driving factor behind the dangerous “clown mania.”
Luckily, “Clown Lives Matter” recently got some help from Stephen King himself.
The scourge is so obviously linked to Stephen King’s renowned horror tale that King has come out on his very active and heavily followed Twitter account and posted that all this clown related fear-mongering, which may well largely be the work of Stephen King fans, has to stop. King even gives a shout-out to all the good-hearted, child-loving, non-psychotic criminal clowns like Jones and Pierce.
Obviously, both Stephen King and the performers pushing “Clown Lives Matter” and similar campaigns want to dispel the anti-clown hysteria, but at the heart of their argument is an idea that has underlain far too many social epidemics in the news as of late: people really need to stop condemning large groups based on a few radical nutjobs who claim to be from that group.
Time will tell if the actual clowns can disentangle themselves from the dark shadow Stephen King may have accidentally created. Hopefully, the backing of Stephen King himself will get those who are following the example set by It a bit too extremely to see that their actions are overstepping the bounds of fiction and wreaking real-life consequences.
[Featured image by Rodrigo Abd/AP Images]