Image copyright MGM.
Some people REALLY HATE clowns. I was surprised to discover there is even an anti-clown movement. Why do clowns evoke such strong emotion? For example, I dislike monkeys, (possibly for many of the same reasons others despise clowns), but I could never muster up enough energy in my dislike to label myself anti-monkey. You just won't see me purchasing Paul Frank items or sock puppets.
I'm not talking coulrophobia here, as in awww, Johnny Depp is afraid of clowns. I mean, Sam in Benny & Joon is a clown and he's adorable. Sigh. Must watch that movie again soon.
Ahem, do I really need an excuse to post a Johnny Depp pic?
Image copyright ihateclowns.com
Sam aside, whether it's due to the distorted features, big shoes or squirting flowers, the widespread negative reaction towards clowns is very useful to writers and filmmakers.
(And in the interest of my Don't Add Hate to the World general outlook, you are under no obligation to check out The No Clown Zone.)
Pennywise from Stephen King's It (1990).
CLOWNS MAKE EXCELLENT VILLAINS. The fact that clowns have so often been used as bad guys, (REALLY bad, bad guys), reinforces our reaction to them.
Somebody, quick, stuff a bunch of cotton candy in there!
As a writer, I'm no exception. I have a clown villain in THE MUMBO JUMBO CIRCUS.
My challenge was how to make him different? I went all the way back to the Commedia dell'Arte for inspiration. I combined a Pantalone-type character with a knife-throwing stilt clown who wears a vintage plaster mask. I named him Kingpole, after the main pole that supports a big top.
No worries, I haven't spoiled the show. The book has more than one villain and we know from Kingpole's first appearance that he's Bad News.
The sequel to THE MUMBO JUMBO CIRCUS will be THE DARING YOUNG MAN, due out in October, if all goes well.
In the book, I will be delving more deeply into clowns and clowning. Hey, I'm up to the challenge, just don't expect the clown to have a monkey.
And if you need more evidence than Johnny Depp as Sam to prove that NOT ALL CLOWNS ARE BAD, I leave you with Danny Kaye.
As long as no one makes a film with a sharp-toothed Danny Kaye zombie, we're all good.
Pass me the cotton candy.
Do you hate clowns? Why?
Love clowns? Let me know!