A major motion picture adaptation of Stephen King’s horror thriller It is getting ready to hit theaters, and a venue in Austin, Texas has come up with an unusual idea that is sure to thrill, petrify, and torment a significant segment of the local population. The Alamo Drafthouse has decided to have a “clowns-only” screening of It.
Many people are scared to death of clowns and hate the sight of them. In the case of Pennywise, the murderous clown who terrorizes the children of a small town in It, a strong case of clown fear is justified, but many people have a deep dread of all clowns, whether or not the clowns have a habit of dragging little kids into ancient sewer systems. They think they are creepy, with all that white face paint and weird eye makeup and unnatural hair and silly hats and bulging costumes, and they probably don’t much care for the twisting motions and squealing sounds when clowns make balloon animals, either.
Clown fear — the word for it is coulrophobia — seems to be an innate part of some people’s psychological makeup and starts at an early age. You can spend a few hilarious minutes on the internet checking out videos of panicked, crying little kids fleeing from the clown who Dad hired to entertain the kids at a birthday party. They intuitively hate clowns, just like baby birds intuitively hate snakes.
Clowns don’t scare me or creep me out. I’ve got a different problem with them — I don’t think they’re funny. Ever since going to my first circus, I’ve been mystified by why some people think clown acts are hilarious. There’s not much subtlety to clown acts, either. And don’t even get me started about those serious, sad-faced, pantomiming clown acts that are supposed to leave you with a tear in your eye and a strong sense of pathos.
We’d all be well advised to give Austin a wide berth on September 9.