Stephen King is being blamed for a rise in coulrophobia, or fear of clowns, due to interest in his novel IT ahead of the release of a new film adaptation coming to theaters in September. Professional clowns are speaking out over their loss of income due to fear of King’s terrifying clown, Pennywise, the central character of IT, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
“It all started with the original IT,” said Pam Moody, president of the World Clown Association. “That introduced the concept of this character. It’s a science-fiction character. It’s not a clown and has nothing to do with pro clowning.”
Moody says that a renewed fear of clowns in the public was sparked in recent years by scary clown sightings, where people in clown masks and often carrying knives or other weapons would appear on dark roads, on the edges of forests, or near schools to scare people. With the marketing campaign for Stephen King’s new IT movie over the past several months, the clown industry has taken an additional beating.
“People had school shows and library shows that were canceled,” says Moody. “That’s very unfortunate. The very public we’re trying to deliver positive and important messages to aren’t getting them.”
According to the Guardian, some psychologists believe that the fear of clowns is a result of something called the “uncanny valley” effect. This is a phenomenon where things that look human but are a bit “off” are unsettling to the human brain. The same effect occurs with lifelike androids, ventriloquist dummies, and wax figures. Other theories say that clowns trigger a deep fear of death and corpses, or that they trigger anxieties due to their unpredictable behavior.
In a tweet from April, Stephen King addressed the backlash he had been getting from professional clowns who blame him for the public’s growing fear of clowns.
“The clowns are pissed at me,” King wrote. “Sorry, most are great. BUT…kids have always been scared of clowns. Don’t kill the messengers for the message.”
Stephen King doesn’t seem to be letting the backlash from professional clowns stand in the way of building excitement for the release of his movie. According to the Bangor Daily News, King has put a red balloon in the front window of his home in Maine, a move that has local residents buzzing.
In fact, Stephen King seems to be more concerned with Donald Trump, banning the president from seeing IT when it’s released.
According to a previous Inquisitr article, some critics have already been given screenings of Stephen King’s IT and have described the film as “totally terrifying.” That news likely has many professional clowns feeling very afraid.
[Featured Image by Mark Lennihan/AP Images]