Clowns Are No Laughing Matter These Days

Once upon a time, clowns were benevolent figures of laughter and joy.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, American children followed the animated antics of the Bozo the Clown on television hebdomadally . The cartoons were introduced by local presenters made up because the carrot-topped Bozo. One was Willard Scott, later to become weatherman with the NBC Today show. Willard Scott was also the first-ever Ronald McDonald, making his debut appearance during a 1963 TV ad for the burger franchise.

Flash forward ten years, to Cook County, Illinois (interestingly enough, the situation of 1 of the primary McDonald's restaurants). a personality calling himself Pogo the Clown may be a popular attraction at community events. Meanwhile, young men keep going missing...

Underneath the clown makeup and garments may be a psychopath named Wayne Gacy. In between appearances as Pogo he strangles to death 34 victims. He doesn't wear the clown outfit when he kills, but his alter-ego of Pogo forever shifts the image of the clown in popular consciousness. Almost overnight, clowns become scary, with Gacy paving the way for varied portrayals of bad clowns in literature and film, most notably Stephen King's It.

King's novel came call at 1986 and was an enormous seller. In 1990, his nightmare creation, Pennywise the Clown, was delivered to the tiny screen during a miniseries. Also in 1990, a Florida woman, Marlene Warren opened her front entrance to a brown-eyed clown bearing flowers and balloons. The clown shot her within the face and drove off during a white Chrysler. The clown's victim died two days later. The killer, a woman, eluded capture for over 1 / 4 century, but now she's serving time for murder.

The nineties and noughties saw chilling portrayals of The Joker, the green-haired prankster within the Batman franchise, by the likes of Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger. Plus we met Krusty, the degenerate clown within the Simpsons.

But it wasn't until 2016 that Caulrophobia - the fear of clowns - reached truly excitement . within the latter a part of that year, the planet was gripped by a wave of 'scary clown' sightings. within the lead-up to Halloween, social media sites received numerous postings about sinister-looking clowns who were reported lurking first in forests, then during a host of urban locations within the US, UK, Australia and variety of other countries. It got so bad that the president of the planet Clown Association, Randy Christensen took to YouTube to condemn people dressing up as clowns to frighten people. "Whoever is doing this crazy stuff isn't a clown," stated Christensen, a Minnesota-based party clown. "This is someone who is employing a good, clean, wholesome kind and distorting it.' Christensen added that members of his association had suffered job cancellations and felt under threat following coverage of scary clown sightings.

It all got an excessive amount of for McDonald's. On October 11, 2016 the burger giant announced that its mascot would be keeping a lower profile as a results of the incidents. A spokesman said the hamburger clown was curtailing on appearances at community events as a results of the "current climate around clown sightings in communities."

There was a kneejerk reaction from other corporate entities like Target, which took clown masks from its website and stores. Schools as far apart as Ohio, USA, and Otago, New Zealand, banned clown outfits and masks.

Cut forward to Halloween night, Monday October 31, 2016. Caulrophobia had taken such a terrifying hold within the us that enormous numbers of both householders and therefore the parents of trick or treaters had firearms at the ready that night.

Fearing vigilante retribution, most clowns kept a coffee profile that witches' eve. Not so in Orange County, Florida, where two men needed medical treatment after being attacked by a gaggle of 20 people in clown masks. But aside from that, Halloween night 2016 seems to possess been a touch of a fizzer within the scary clown department, given all the hype leading up thereto .

Flashing forward now to May 2017. A bald, bespectacled man fronts a court in Nova Scotia, Canada. he's Dale Raincourt, aka Klutzy the Clown. He pleads guilty to the sexual abuse of a 15-year-old girl over a six week period. The judge jails him for 2 years and bans him from ever working as a children's entertainer again. Another nail within the coffin for real clowns trying to earn an honest living.

Then within the fall of 2017 came the large budget cinema production of It. Pennywise was back, scarier than ever! The film proceeded to try to to very brisk business indeed at the box office, with the most important attendances ever for a September-October release.

So where does that leave the benevolent, child-friendly clown of yesteryear? Well, tons of them have hung up their clown outfits and wigs permanently . Others have strategically re-aligned themselves within the marketplace, promoting themselves as "balloon artists" and avoiding all use of the "c" word.

And poor old Ronald McDonald has been put bent pasture in most parts of the planet . On a recent trip to Thailand, I did encounter his life sized effigy outside a McDonald's in Bangkok. He had his palms pressed together during a "wei" greeting. Alternatively, he may need been praying, appealing for divine intervention because the clown joins the ranks of vampires, zombies and other denizens of our worst nightmares.

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