Clowns are terrifying. No two ways about it. There is something unearthly about the fact that clowns are always smiling. It’s impossible to see behind the mask. Facial recognition is a crucial function of human behavior. When we can’t read their emotions we feel discord.
Clowns are unknowable. Clowns are abstract creatures, brought to life. They are impossible to categorize and give us anxiety because they shouldn’t exist…but they do.
“In the textbook titled
New Ideas in Psychology, researcher Francis McAndrew conducted a study, explaining different stimuli that constitute “creepiness.” He defines being “creeped out” as feeling slightly threatened but not enough to run away.” One is forced to wallow in this sense of discomfort and unease while being around the object of our discomfort because you are ignoring your natural instincts to run away due to politeness.
In 1919, Sigmund Freud, in his publication “The Uncanny,” surmises that we are frightened by what is familiar and yet unfamiliar at the same time. Clowns have similar features to humans: mouths, noses, ears, hands, feet, and hair. The problem is that their features are exaggerated: giant shoes, huge mouths, ghastly white faces, and big, red noses. These differences are at odds with the similar features to humans that clowns have. Leaving discomfort and fear.
A little girl taking some jello from a clown on a sunny day. Ranker A 1951 circus barber shop. Flickr A circus performer doubles over backwards. Imgur A clown being followed by a skeleton. Tumblr A pose of clowns posing for a photograph. Ranker A Ringling Brothers clown in a dressing room posing for a photograph that will haunt your dreams. Tumblr A ventriloquist with his horrifying dummy. Tumblr Clown standing behind a woman. Tumblr Two clowns posing for an eerie photograph. Flickr Simply horrible. BuzzFeed Out of the mouth of babes. BuzzFeed Two horrors sharing a meaningful glance. Pinterest Never trust anyone wearing such a small hat. BuzzFeed An emotionally dead clown staring into the soul of the photographer. BuzzFeed Bad touch. BuzzFeed A horrifying display. BuzzFeed The horse needed a lot of therapy after this ride. BuzzFeed This circus looks like it was not fun. BuzzFeed Did he even try to look child-friendly? etsy It has been confirmed that nobody likes clowns. Nobody. BuzzFeed Don’t look into its eyes. BuzzFeed It’s coming for you. BuzzFeed Whoever made these costumes and thought ‘won’t this look nice? must have been a sadist. BuzzFeed Let take a monster and make it 15 feet tall. BuzzFeed It gets worse the longer you look at it. BuzzFeed I’m gunna need a bigger beer. BuzzFeed Why do this? BuzzFeed It’s not even smiling. BuzzFeed John Wayne Gacy’s Pogo the Clown is an obvious choice. theghostdiaries 1924: American actor Lon Chaney (1883 – 1930) dressed as a clown for his role in the film ‘He Who Gets Slapped’, directed by Victor Sjostrom for MGM. Chron An unidentified clown in full costume poses in an unidentified photo studio in an unknown American location around 1860. chron 20th April 1934, Coco the Clown appeared all over the world and was to be the leading clown wherever he appeared. At the time of the photograph, he was traveling with Bertram Mills Circus. chron Close-up portrait of American circus performer Felix Adler (1895 – 1960) in white-face clown make-up (and a jewel on the tip of his nose) as he smiles from behind an enormous bow tie, backstage, 1940s or 1950s. chron Photographic print, by Sarony, one half of a stereo view, featuring a head and shoulders portrait of the famous clown GL Fox, New York, New York, circa 1875. chron Portrait of professional clown Oleg Popov, of the Moscow State Circus, circa 1955. chron The patent hair grower is only one of numerous ingenious ‘props’ used by the funny men to lampoon modern customs and conventions, 1931. National Geographic “Dainty equestrienne and grotesque clown may come from opposite ends of the earth. Offstage they fraternize like a happy family. Many of them have friends outside the show, but those who marry usually find mates among their fellow performers” 1931. National Geographic “Clowns must tell their jokes by pantomime, for their voices cannot be heard throughout the huge tent. At the center are the originators of burlesque boxing. A member of a famous circus family referees. The female impersonator provokes laughter by tumbling from high-piled tables,” 1931. National Geographic “Not a glance does the fat clown draw from these surly chariot pullers. Whether one- or two-humped, members of the camel family have double-barreled tempers, swivel joints permitting kicking in any direction, and no sense of humor.” National Geographic “Majesty goes into the parade led by buffoonery. Even these ridiculous grooms cannot destroy the age-old dignity of the stately dromedaries, and the girl riders laugh at the contrast. No two clowns look exactly alike. Once a man “makes up” in a peculiar manner, he has a moral copyright on that type of appearance.” National Geographic “The merry old clown, who loves children and is popular with them wherever he goes, enjoys giving a tiny visitor a special treat. He knows stories of famous performers who were born in the circus, cradled in trunk tills, and reared under the big top.” National Geographic “Stilts, once used by armies in the Low Countries for marching across flooded areas, have become an important adjunct of modern clowning. The taller of these lanky fun makers must stoop when he passes through the performers’ entrance to the “big top” behind him.” National Geographic He is telling them about his pet pig, Pork Chops, which follows him around the hippodrome track and drinks from a bottle like a baby. National Geographic