Stephen King's It Clown-Only Screening

It’s not a good time for a professional clown. With the brief scare of the creepy clown sightings all over America last year and the upcoming big screen take on the novel/miniseries that arguably started it all, kids likely won’t be lining up at the circus anytime soon. And it’s bad for business.

The World Clown Association — which is a real thing that exists — is blaming Stephen King’s It for hurting clown business. Although they’re probably not that far off.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, World Clown Association president Pam Moody says members of her association are being negatively affected by all the bad press surrounding clowns:

“People had school shows and library shows that were canceled. That’s very unfortunate. The very public we’re trying to deliver positive and important messages to aren’t getting them.”

Moody claimed that fear of clowns is not as universal as people would believe. Some kids are scared of clowns just as some kids are scared of the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus, she said. But there are clearly much fewer movies about killer Santas and Easter Bunnies (though I may be browsing in the wrong section of Netflix) than there are about evil clowns. While kids are unlikely to see It in theaters, the adults who do see Andy Muschietti‘s film may develop coulrophobia (a fear of clowns) and cancel the gigs themselves.

And Moody believes it all started when It was published in 1986:

“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,”

There were books and movies that introduced the concept of scary clowns before It. The Joker was introduced in the Batman comics back in 1940 — inspired by the 1928 silent film The Man Who Laughs, about a freak show star with a permanently disfigured smile — and a terrifying toy clown in 1982’s Poltergeist may have launched the modern wave of pop culture demonization of clowns.

But you can trace America’s modern fear of clowns back to 1970s serial killer John Wayne Gacy, who worked as Pogo the clown part-time. Hollywood soon grabbed onto the “killer clown” concept, releasing movies like Poltergeist and 1988’s Killer Clowns from Outer Space. But it was King’s 1986 novel It and its 1990 miniseries adaptation that solidified pop culture’s fear of clowns.

On the WCA’s website, they released a “Stand on Scary Clowns” statement, urging potential clients to not pay attention to the clown fear-mongering of current Hollywood films.

We understand that some people enjoy the “horror genre” of entertainment, but we find that many people are confronted by images of horror characters (impersonating clowns) and are startled by them…which is obviously the goal of these horror characters. In my opinion, these horror characters are not clowns. Even the character in the movie “IT” should be understood to be a fantasy character – not a true clown.

And what does King himself have to say about this?

It comes to theaters on September 8, 2017.

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