Saturday, March 17, 2012

Chicken or Clown? Part 2

The purpose of this post, and the last, was to look at some irrational fears. In the last post we established that, no, we should not be afraid of chickens. We also solved the age old question of the chicken and the egg.

In this post, we will try and answer the question of whether we should be afraid of clowns. I know what you're thinking - of course we should be afraid of clowns - there needn't be a debate. But before we jump to conclusions, let's look at the problem in more detail.

Let's face it - a lot of people are scared of clowns. There's even a name for this type of phobia: Coulrophobia. Then there's the people that hate clowns but are seemingly not scared of them, such as the "I Hate Clowns" website. I think fear and hate often go together, but I'm not about to start a fight with the I Hate Clowns people - they have logo'd t-shirts.

I don't blame the clown fearers or the haters. I've always found the aspect of someone hiding behind a mask both fascinating and creepy. I've written two short stories about clowns; one was for "tweens" called Clown Town, and the other an adult story called The Clown. If you keep reading my blogs you'll also see quite a lot of clown cartoons.

On the clown side; dressing up in disguise can be quite liberating. It allows you to be another person - to let go of inhibitions (or so I am told). Okay, I'll come clean - I have a thing for novelty wigs - there, I've said it - admitting you have a problem is the first step ...

And further support for the impact parents can have on their children:

It warms my heart.

So anyway, clowns have also had a bad wrap in the world of story. Take for instance; Killer Klowns from Outerspace (1988). And now, 25 years later, I hear there is a new movie; The Return of the Killer Klowns from Outerspace in 3D set for release in 2013. Stephen King didn't help the cause when he wrote the book "It" featuring "Pennywise the dancing clown". Unfortunately Pennywise didn't just dance, although that would have been creepy enough. I could go on, but a quick search of the web will give you more than enough information, if you really want to go there.

So, it's looking bad for clowns. But what about the good clowns? The ones that do make us laugh and generally don't creep us out. Jerry Lewis for instance - my favourite "clown". Ben Stiller. Robin Williams. Jim Carey. You know what - they don't usually dress up. Neither do chickens. I want to know who I'm dealing with - and although you can't always be sure - it's easier when you can look someone in the face - and it's their face you're seeing - not a mask. We often hate things we fear, and fear things we don't understand.
So is fearing clowns irrational? There are many real risks in life that we seem to easily dismiss, and attach greater risks to stuff that's highly unlikely. That was the point of the original post in Part 1.  Things such as smoking, drinking, eating too much junk food, driving in cars, etc are all reasonably high risk activities that cause untimely death. Yet, we all partake in at least some of these activities. Clowns, on the other hand, probably rank in the very low risk category along with being struck by lightning.

Therefore, should we fear clowns?  The answer is yes ... but only a little. Much like with lightning - where you don't go out in a storm carryng a metal object - if you see a clown coming toward you, either cross the road calmly, or decline their offer politely.

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