Halloween is around the corner. I don't know about you, but I'm excited. Not because I love trick or treating (growing up, I never did that), or plan to decorate my house in garish orange and black. But because as a fiction writer and lover of the macabre, I appreciate a time of year that gets my creative juices flowing.
During October, I plan on tracking down some classic black and white horror movies, like the timeless 1931 Frankenstein and the other Universal monster flicks. There's something about those spooky movies that gets the wheels of my imagination going. Plus they're a fun way to celebrate the season.
This time of year typically brings out that kind of love in many of us. While I, a relatively well-adjusted person, choose to express my love of all-things spooky through old movies, there are some who take it too far.
You'd think that October 31st would be enough for people to indulge in their love of the macabre. Dressing up in scary outfits, going to costume parties, and reveling in this madness safely, should be enough for anyone. Yet there has been a bizarre trend growing over the last few months, one surely to culminate in the spookiest of days.
It really has no precedent. And many well-meaning folks are alarmed, concerned, and downright terrified.
What I'm talking about of course is the growing number of clown sightings across America.
Here's just a sample:
Pranksters using creepy clown images posted a slew of death threats against students throughout Northern California over Instagram on Tuesday, prompting schools to increase their police presence.
According to local Sacramento NBC News affiliate KCRA, an Instagram post from user sa.townclown was being circulated by students in Elk Grove that included a caption that read, “Schools I’m hitting up this Halloween season! we are messing with all you! SHELDON better be carful cuz we coming for ya’ll! we ain’t clowning around!!!!!!” (Breitbart)
This report, dated October 5, is the latest in a long line of disturbing clown reports from all over the country. It started in early August, when a viral marketing campaign promoting a short film had a clown wander around Green Bay. Gags the clown, a frighteningly dress clown with black balloons, was simply a clever way of getting word out about a movie.
But this seemed to have opened Pandora's box. Soon afterward we learned about children in South Carolina, reporting that men dressed as clowns were luring them into the woods. Although police investigated, they could find no evidence confirming the reports.
Then it spread to North Carolina. Then Georgia. Then Mississippi and Alabama. People reporting various sightings of scary clowns, either looking into their windows, sneaking around the woods, or approaching them in parking lots.
While some of the reports were proven to be false, video footage and photos started to emerge on social media of people acting suspiciously, dressed as clowns; some assaulting strangers with weapons. This has led to several schools being forced to close for a day, after threats were made against their students and staff.
It's spread from the South to all corners of the United States. There are even Instagram accounts now dedicated to sightings. With Halloween around the corner, don't expect this to go away any time soon.
There is one question you should be asking yourself: what the hell? Why are there so many clown sightings going on in our country. Why is this is an actual thing??
These days it feels like TV jokes are becoming real. Ten years ago, this would have been something done in a bad movie or episode of the Simpsons. Today, it's headline news.
The idea that clowns can be scary is nothing new. Ever since Stephen King's It, people have considered the white-faced jerks with bright hair to be forces of evil. This has been reinforced by characters like the Batman's Joker, who use the traditionally playful appearance as a guise for crime and chaos.
It's not too hard to see why, for every action there is an equal or opposite reaction. Long before Tim Curry put on the wig, people have considered the inverse of things. If clowns are suppose to be considered fun, silly, and safe, there will be someone who will view them from the opposite perspective. There is a macabre fascination with looking at generally nice things and turning them dark.
So we get it, clowns can be scary. But why are there people in our country dressing up as clowns just to scare strangers? Well you can blame the usual scapegoat: the Internet. When something as bizarre as this goes viral, people will want to emulate it. Something so perfectly absurd as clowns terrorizing small towns, how could anyone ignore it? Unhinged individuals seeking attention will immediately want to replicate that kind of behavior.
Giving our police no end of headaches.
We can't forget the commercial aspect of all this. The original clown sighting was to promote a film. Perhaps all these other ones are a part of the same scheme. It wouldn't be hard for an indie studio, or even a larger one, to get on Craigslist and pay a few local weirdoes to dress up like clowns for a few days.
Just imagine the attention their movie would get!
But maybe, just maybe there's a larger conspiracy going on. I wrote about how social justice activists are waging war on Halloween and how overly sensitive people are forcing stores to pull scary props. Apparently there are people who don't like scary props being sold on Halloween.
Maybe these clown sightings are part of a large scheme to win over the public in the left's war against fun. If more people are terrorized by weirdoes in costumes, maybe everyone will come to hate Halloween as much as they do! It would be real easy for an activist group to get on Craigslist and pay a bunch of weirdoes to act out!
Conspiracies aside, it's clear what the fallout of all this stuff will be. There will certainly be backlash from certain cultural police, who blame our movies and video games for inciting this kind of behavior. There will be talk of legislation trying to ban certain costumes from being sold, at least to minors. The overreaching nannies of our society will want to find ways to prevent this sort of nonsense from happening again. But of course, their methods will infringe on every decent person's personal liberties.
So what are we left to do? If you are truly afraid of a clown popping up in your backyard (a scary thought, indeed), just take the same kind of safety precautions anyone does. Make sure you own a firearm for home defense even, because I'm pretty sure clowns aren't bulletproof.
Come Halloween, be sure to celebrate as you see fit. Take your kids trick or treating. Go to your friend's party. Dress up any way you like, even as a clown. Don't let the weirdoes or extremists stop you from having the fun you deserve.
Maybe watch a few clown movies, just for the hell of it.