Monday, October 7, 2019

The evolution of clowns

Looking around at Halloween decorations this year's its clear that clowns are now officially an item of horror. Not that they weren't necessarily an item of horror before, but the idea of clowns as something horrific seem to be fully cemented in the cultural consciousness now. If you're a clown these days and you don't work at a rodeo or Cirque du Soleil, I think you're pretty much screwed. It's pretty safe to say that we can blame Pennywise the clown from Stephen King's book "It"", and later the movie starring Dr Frankenfurter, and more recently the remake of the movie, for ruining your career in circus arts and the shift in public perception of clowns. Well that and maybe John Wayne Gacy.

Even more than that, if you look at this year's Halloween decoration clowns, the black vertical lines of makeup over Pennywise's eyes have been enormously accentuated compared to the movie versions, and probably just a little moreso than last year, and of course they almost universally have the red frizzy hair of Pennywise and the standard clown's red nose and accentuated lips. This makes me wonder how the image of a clown will be portrayed in decades and centuries from now. In this regard I'm reminded of images of St. George slaying the dragon as depicted in medieval imagery. Typically they show St. George on a horse shoving a lance into the mouth of some poor oversized frilled lizard thing no bigger than a small alligator. Whether St. George actually killed an oversized lizard in Libya, and why it took over 700 years for this to become part of his legend is anyone's guess. My point however is that modern dragons are depicted quite differently than they were in those medieval images. Just take the ones from Game of Thrones for example, they're impossibly gigantic creatures, which are nonetheless able to fly despite lacking the jet engines of similar-sized flying objects, and they breathe super heated microwave plasma.
So I guess in a few hundred years the idea of a clown will morph until it becomes some sort of soul-stealing vampire creature that lurks in sewers and drains, with flames for hair and a nose that shoots deadly laser beams, that can fly around using balloons, and with a mouth that explodes into a storm of teeth that instantly shred its victims into bloody rags. I guess the sad part is that I won't be around to tell people that we had clowns in school when I was a kid... and there were dragons up in the trees.

-Dave Bad Person

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