The Bone-Chilling Clown Craze


A discarded clown mask found in the street during 2017.

Reese Bennett, Columnist

When you walk into the theater to watch a horror movie, you know what’s coming. However, people are not usually prepared for a real life encounter. A terrifying event that occurred last year was the multiple eerie clown sightings that began to pop up around Halloween-time. They hid in corn mazes, chased you down the street, and appeared at your windows. Although nothing fatal occurred, it was tremendously unnerving and definitely not funny. The people who dress up as clowns are trying to get a good scare out of others, but it’s only humorous to them. Now, with Halloween coming around this year, and the release of the new movie “It,” police are warning people that last year’s events have a high chance of being repeated.

Think about it. Who in their right mind would want to be chased by a person with freaky makeup and a knife? Newsweek talks about how these clowns will even chase kids. In fact, witnesses say that numerous clown sightings were around forests and schools so they could find kids to scare. Those who experienced this were probably scared out of their minds. Just the idea of scaring anybody in this way  is sickening, and it makes it even worse that they purposely hang around sights frequently visited or passed by children. Not to mention, some people who have an actual profession as a clown are getting fired and arrested because of coulrophobia, the fear of clowns, as stated by Imagine Game Network. An increase in people with coulrophobia has been heavily influenced by creepy clowns like Pennywise, the homicidal, child-eating clown who starred in both 1990 and 2017’s adaptations of “It.” It’s terrible that people are ending up in jail or losing their jobs because some fool decided to play some sick joke.

There’s very little appeal in dressing up as a clown anyways. You’re going to frighten some people, but if you mess with someone, they very well could pummel or mace you in self-defense and fear; other risks include arrest. There’s really no point in it, and it’s unproductive and cruel.

On a similar note, most people can handle a horror movie just fine. Occasionally though, horror movies can cause side effects to one’s brain. “Though horror entertainment has become more and more graphic in recent years, viewers realize that what they are watching is fake,” states Concordia University. But if something horror movie-worthy happened in real life, you would have no idea what’s coming. Seeing scary things on a screen can give your brain issues, according to studies done by the University of Michigan, and it wouldn’t be any better, or maybe even worse, if you saw those scary things in real life, such as potential real-life encounter with a clown in the dark that could trouble your sleeping for weeks. Horror movies are often gruesome and terrifying. University of Wisconsin researchers Kristen Harrison and Joanne Cantor say that these scary images on your screen can have lasting effects upon people and their brains. After taking a study on more than 150 college students from Michigan and Wisconsin, 90% of the students proved to have a “residual anxiety” caused by horror movies.

Residual anxiety is very similar to classical conditioning, stated by SimplyPsychology to be a form of generalization and can be based off of fear. For example, the movie Jaws could cause a negative association with sharks in one’s mind, and create a phobia. In the case of a horror movie, one could associate something like footsteps in real life with the footsteps featured in a movie right before a murder. They could then become afraid of hearing footsteps in fear of being murdered just like the movie victim. Classical conditioning is a big issue caused by horror movies, and it differs for people based on what types of things scare them the most. Residual anxiety and classical conditioning have worse long term effects on younger children than older. Young children’s exposure to horror movies is most likely going to scar them in someway, with severity varying. “Given that very young children may not yet know what types of stimuli frighten them most, and that they do not enjoy the power to choose which media the family will view, they are in special need of protection from exposure to such scary stimuli before coping strategies are necessary.” says Harrison. Mental issues such as classical conditioning aren’t healthy and last for a lifetime, which nobody wants. Not dressing up as a clown will prevent people from being affected like this and struggling to get over their fears.

Of course, there are going to be some people who are fine with the clown sightings. People can use desensitization, which is facing your fears to get rid of them. If you were afraid of clowns previously, maybe seeing one in real life could lessen your fear of them. There are also people in the world who thrive off of the thrill that accompanies fear, so a clown on a dark street isn’t a problem for them. These people are few in number, however. Nonetheless, the clown sightings should not happen again. It is in every way pointless, unbeneficial, and frightening. Nobody asked for it, so don’t give it. If you want to scare people as a clown so badly, sign up for a haunted house instead of wandering around a dimly lit area seeing how many unsuspecting people you pick on.