Clown Nightmares Enter Waking Life
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Remember when clowns were associated with laughter and entertained children with their silly antics? Well, their popularity has certainly begun to trend by enhancing everyone’s fear of clowns to gargantuan proportions. Ever since the news sprouted footage, pictures and reports of scary clowns a couple of months ago, many have been on total clown alert for fear that one might be standing out of their window poised to strike.
Believe it or not, these sightings have been around for some time before the craze started. 23-year-old Nathaniel Dunivinin was arrested for chasing a group of kids at a bus stop with a knife in a clown mask and costume in Chesterfield, Va. on Nov. 12, 2015. Aug. 1, 2016 in Greenbay, Wis., a sinister-looking clown was spotted holding black balloons in the middle of the night; luckily this was one of those cases where the clown presented no danger as it was part of a stunt used for a short film that was being made in the area. Still, it spooked many residents and made some headlines, but no one knew how quick the clown scare would resurface once again in a South Carolina town (coincidently named) Greenville in late August.
Earlier reports believed that this was some sort of promotional material for the new upcoming adaptation of Stephen King’s IT, which is scheduled to be released in 2017. According to reports, the clown was spotted trying to lure kids into the woods exactly like Pennywise (the clown/monster did in the Stephen King story), but when word got out to the filmmakers and King himself, they made it abundantly clear that they had nothing to do with this. With that statement it begged the question, “What the heck was going on?” Week after week, more clown related news began to appear more frequently than before; not just in the United States but in Canada and the UK, ranging from more clown sightings, being chased by these figures, juvenile pranks, social media threats, lethal injuries and at least one death (in which a 16-year-old, who was wearing a clown mask, was stabbed). With so many crimes and arrests that are occurring many are unsure if these crimes are being committed by certain individuals, separate groups or if are all connected, which leads back to the fear.
Sept. 27 saw the arrest of a pair of 17 year olds who committed robberies at Dominoes Pizza and Taco Bell while wearing clown masks in Phoenix, Ariz. On Sept. 21, a middle school girl was arrested when she brought a knife to school as a means to defend herself from clowns. Many states, including Colorado and New Hampshire have banned clown costumes due to the pandemonium. Others, like Illinois and Alabama have had some schools on lockdown to either sightings or threats involving clowns. Professional Clowns and other associations haven’t been keen on this craze. While many have continued with their careers, others remain nervous for fear of being accused or attacked by any passerby when performing. It’s gotten so bad that a march called Clown Lives matter was scheduled for October 15, only to be cancelled when the head of the march Nikki Sinn received numerous death threats. Even Ronald McDonald, the most iconic fast food mascot has disappeared from the spotlight due to this clown catastrophe. Despite many clown costumes being banned in many places they’re still selling fast with Halloween approaching. In lighter news, Oct. 3 saw about 6000 students at Pennsylvania State University rally together for a clown hunt after hearing that a clown was sighted nearby. The hunt lasted into the following morning, but there was no physical harm, property damage and no clowns of any sort were captured. Recently, in North West England a group known as the Cumbria Superheroes has begun to post videos and photos dressed with people dressing up as superheroes like Batman chasing off clowns, with hopes of countering this clown scare. A man dressed as the Dark Knight posted a video saying,”As for you clowns, if you want to scare someone, why don’t you try and scare me.”
Texas has also had its fair share of clown incidents. Some of these include teens being arrested for committing juvenile crimes such as posting clown-related threats online, and other sorts of clown hoaxes have occurred from Houston, Rockwall, and even Commerce when a clown was supposedly sighted on campus only to result in a fabricated picture. A Denton police officer came under fire when she made the comment on Facebook saying “Pop a cap in the first clown you see. Someone needs to just hit one, and the rest of these fools will learn.” Thankfully, no sightings or crimes involving clowns have occurred in this area, and Lieutenant Jason Bone of UPD has said that while anyone has the right to dress up as whatever they want, just be aware of the consequences particularly during this time and with the Campus Carry law that has been passed.
While it may never truly disappear, many are hoping this will all die down soon. Clowns have been associated with frightening and disturbing images, but let’s not forget that they have also brought joy to others with their silly slapstick at circuses and rodeos. Stephen King, who has a phobia of clowns, posted on his twitter saying “Hey, guys, time to cool the clown hysteria–most of ‘em are good, cheer up the kiddies, make people laugh.”