Why Do We Fear Clowns?
Anyone who has read Stephen King’s It would probably never choose to decorate a children’s ward with clowns. And it probably comes as no surprise to horror fans that a University of Sheffield study of 250 children for a report on hospital design suggests the children find clown motifs “frightening and unknowable”. We don’t know what’s behind the mask.
One might suspect that popular culture is to blame. In It, made into a television movie in 1990, Stephen King created a child-murdering monster that appeared as a demonic clown. King’s It has sparked a slew of horror films over the past 20 years, known as “the killer clown” or “evil clown genre”.
The recurring theme in popular culture of the scary clown goes back at least as far as silent move star Lon Chaney Sr, who identified the spooky potential when he reportedly said, “There is nothing laughable about a clown in the moonlight.”
The place of the scary clown in mainstream popular culture can be seen in The Simpsons with Bart’s intonation of “can’t sleep, clown will eat me”. The phrase became an Internet meme and inspired the Alice Cooper song Can’t Sleep, Clowns Will Eat Me. Even SpongeBob is afraid of clowns. In the Tunnel of Glove episode, SpongeBob and Pearl are in the dark after the ride has broken down. SpongeBob stammers, “It’s okay Pearl, it’s only the dark. There’s nothin’ scary about… the dark! It’s whats in the dark you gotta watch out for. Monsters, creeps, ghouls, CLOWNS, witches, werewolves, CLOWNS, crawly things, CRAWLY CLOWNS, those are the worst CRAWLY CLOWNS.”
And the real-life serial killer John Wayne Gacy, who often dressed as a clown for neighborhood parties but was secretly killing young men and hiding their bodies in his basement, provides an unpleasant and sinister undertone to the clown theme.
If you search for fear of clowns on the Internet, the results will include plenty of sites referring to “coulrophobia” — an avid fear of clowns. You are not alone with your fear; just stay away from the crawly clowns.
AHS Twisty the clown, He's so delightfully wonderful. He kind of reminds me of the clown from House of a Thousand Corpses. I can't remember his name... darn it.