With the presidential election coming up, many of the candidates have started accumulating a diverse following. Donors, endorsers, voters, killer clowns, your usual political following. Wait what?
by Aashna Chudgar
Most of you are probably familiar with the breakout of killer clowns in 2016. Around the time of the last presidential election, 2016’s Halloween was taken to a whole new level of horror. Originating from the crazy city of Los Angeles, a killer clown outbreak was swept throughout Southern California, from clowns breaking into people’s houses to them harassing people driving on the streets and breaking their windshields. And guess what? The clowns are back for round two. Just in time for a new president to be elected.
There is a chance, however, that the presidential election and killer clown sightings are unrelated. Killer clown imagery and murderers have existed for many years before the election, and cinema depicting murderous clowns are not only common, but have often always been accompanied by a few clowns on a personal rampage. Not to mention, there have been many, many different factors of literature, media, music, current events, and other significant moments in America’s timeline that could play factors in this outburst. Killer clowns in 2016 and 2020 have also surged around the time where they became media trends.
This is where our trilemma comes to form. Are the killer clowns a sign of revolt against the government and it’s presidential candidates, a trend that’s symbolic of representation in the media, or are they simply existent for an unspecified reason? Let’s find out.
The Newsworthy Perspective:
The main reason people believe that killer clowns show up during the presidential election is due to the two main killer clown epidemics: one in 2016 and the other in 2020. And they both occurred around the same time: in the fall before the election date. The patterns displayed by these clowns imply that they come out of hiding to protest the government. It is highly plausible that killer clowns are in fact a result of the presidential election on account of how big of an anti-fan base Trump and other famously disliked presidents have managed to accumulate during their respective campaigns.
For example, take Ronald Raegen. During his presidency, things like clowns, marionettes, monkeys, masks, mannequins, certain robots, scarecrows were highly frowned upon at the time, as during this period, Raegen was planning on waging nuclear war. His PR image was faltering due to this. According to a young man interviewed by The Guardian who lived during the time of Raegan’s election, “we had a president who was uncanny, too. I remember getting a bag of Republican jellybeans with an [circus] elephant on the package when trick-or-treating on 31 October [of] 1980. Reagan was famously fond of them [elephants].” This quote shows us that in order to inspire fear for voters during the presidency, converting things that Raegan finds amusing into symbols of fear and obscenity was a scare tactic that worked all the way back in the 1980s. The killer clowns were probably aware of this considering how well known Raegan’s reign was and used the previous influence of clowns to strike horror in citizens once again.
According to writer Gordon Donovan from Yahoo News, his primary source tells him that despite a terrorist attack in lower Manhattan earlier in the day, large crowds of costumed people turned up to watch the New York City Village Halloween Parade. Participants dressed as killer clowns and President Trump made their freewheeling way through lower Manhattan. This is specifically important because they made Trump the face of their scandals. Purposefully using his face as a symbol of their horror and comedy is something that stands as a threat and should be taken seriously. As creativity was on display both on the marchers’ bodies and their minds while a crowd of thousands in costume flowed up Sixth Avenue on Halloween night, Manhattan was also a place where a lot of killer clown attacks were frequent during the 2016 killer clown pandemic.
Something commonly used to make us despise clowns and the sight of them is called the “uncanny valley” effect. The Conversation defines it as something that pushes the limit of how we perceive human presence. “When they were close to, but not quite, human, people developed a sense of unease and discomfort. If human-likeness increased beyond this point, and became very close to a human, the emotional response returned to being positive. It is this distinctive dip in the relationship between human-likeness and emotional response that is called the “uncanny valley”. This method of psychology is something that essentially creates unease based on things that resemble the human face, in this case, presidential masks. Associating the president’s face with something so heavily gruesome makes us feel repulsed by the subject and therefore repulsed by the idea of the presidents themselves.
Something that should be noted about this trend is it took place from August-October of 2016 and is slowly starting to rise again with this year’s election. This wasn’t something that was donned purely for Halloween, people have been getting into the so-called “spirit” of trying to haunt others ever since information first came out about our two candidates in 2016. Although we may never know for sure what influence this had on the election, it is very clear that some were highly unsettled by this new information.
The killer clowns decided to pop up at an awfully convenient time to spread both their holiday cheer and political gloom in a blood rushing yet highly morbid setting. Their patterns show that they are closely linked to the presidency, particularly for the last two elections when they decided to step up their game and start actually terrorizing the crowd.
The Media’s perspective:
It’s important to note that the presidential election wasn’t the only thing that was happening at the time that could influence killer clowns to go on a killing rampage. Several different trends, appearances in the media, as well as general background could get someone feeling psychotic enough to do this.
First of all, let’s consider the actual history of clowns. The actual archetype of the killer clown first appeared in the 1970’s from a series called “Evil Clown” which influenced a lot of people to start creating killer clown costumes and start perceiving clowns as terrifying rather than light-hearted. This influenced many serial killers to come into the industry of clownery, one in particular named John Wayne Gacy, who is famously known for being a killer clown. After that, many famous bands including the Alex Harvy band started wearing killer clown makeup to psych more people up and create more of a horror-based vibe. Stephen King’s novel “It”, famously known for featuring a terrifying clown by the name of Pennywise, debuted in 1986 creating even more negative energy towards clowns and was followed by a slight outbreak of clowns.
With all of the different characters that have been portrayed using killer clowns, some extremely harmful, some generally negative, and some that inspired a new genre of art, there’s bound to be followers of the movement that can appreciate some part of it, whether it be the unlawful killing or the aesthetic of it.
One particular movie that may have had influence on the movement is Killer Klowns from Outer Space. The premise of the movie is there are these ridiculous looking clowns that bait their prey using things that are typically associated with the youth of clowns, and then use those same childhood memories to encapsulate you and suffocate you to death. According to Tech Times, several schools across the state had to be shut down because clowns were baiting children and women with candy near schools to get close and stab them, something that was very close to the actual plotline of the movie itself.
The killer clown Youtube sensation was also active during this time. Many people on Youtube decided to plant fake hoaxes in response to the reports of killer clowns and started making prank videos and filming themselves fake reacting to their homes or cars getting damaged by people in clown outfits.
The clown industry has had a lot of business and refinery over the years, as well as blatant horror. There have been many different factors that have influenced the psychotic nature of clowns, and to limit ourselves to the presidential election could be inaccurate.
Killer clowns are a controversial topic and as we discuss them more and more, many new cases regarding the mentally unstable that go on killing sprees come to light.
To show exactly how severe the cases were during the pandemic of 2016, here is a timeline of everything that’s happened since then according to Chicago ABC:
“August 30, 2016: Police warn of a clown trying to lure children into woods: The clown sightings took a scary turn in late August when authorities in South Carolina began reports of a person dressed as a clown trying to lure children into the woods.”
“September 14, 2016: Clowns chase children waiting for a school bus: McDuffie County deputies say Cameron Frails, 12, and his little brother were walking to a bus stop after 6 am when they were chased by men donning all black clothing, clown masks, and red wigs.”
“September 21, 2016: Clowns in the woods, chasing children. A week later, police in Pottsville, Pennsylvania began investigating a frightening claim by a 12-year-old who said she was chased by a clown through a park. Brianne Hawke, 12, told WNEP-TV that a little boy came screaming through the park after allegedly seeing a group of clowns ‘eating something in the woods.’ ‘A clown started chasing us up here and turned around and went back to the woods,’ she said”.
“September 24, 2016: Law enforcement issues alert over clown-related crimes: After alleged clown sightings in South Carolina, southern Kentucky, Tennessee, and a few other states, the Tennessee Highway Patrol issued a warning to parents to watch the kids and to be on the lookout for anything out of the ordinary.”
While the patterns of the clowns revolving deeply around the presidential election and trying to create a sort of anti-politicism environment in regards to the society it’s created, there have been many other aspects of clownery that have turned it into the psychotics that it is today. Of course, it doesn’t have to be either of these things, and it could simply be a couple of middle-aged adults with access to a Party City.
What do you think? Is the presidency responsible for this real-life purge?