The clown at midnight: Reaching for the paranormal?

creepy paranormal pop culture

There are seasonal colds.. And there are seasonal scares. During the mean time of Halloween, we often are treated to a barrage of the strange, the unusual, the paranormal, and the macabre. It may be the only time that people can reasonably fashion themselves after zombies and walk down streets without fear of reprise.. In some towns.

Halloween is also a moment when people reach beyond their normal boundaries, when that ‘veil’ thin and the beastly demons march into our reality. Or at least we want that to be the case.

I think we are guilty of reading too deeply into things around this season. Just as we seek ‘miracles’ on Christmas, we see dead people all of the time during October. Spirits and witches are acceptable.. our imagination runs wild and we ‘feel the ghostly presences’ everywhere.. Paranormal happens all throughout the month. And even if something is purely coincidental, we label it paranormal to be safe. After all, it’s October, so who will stop us.

This year, this clown conundrum has been popular.. It all started at the beginning of the month with Wasco the clown in California, a topic I have written about on here in a few posts.. Wasco was a social media phenom around October 7 when his presence was seen in Bakersfield California.  People even sought him out, following his accounts and trying to grab sightings of his creepy face somewhere in the city.. Things got wild when a child complained that a clown chased him down the street with an ax. I personally didn’t believe the story, but the account was enough to create a worldwide clown sensation ..

The latest comes from ABC news. They are reporting ‘Tickles’ the clown posting a picture on social media outside of a store in New Mexico.

Clowns are popping up all over the world.. Such as France and Britain. 

There are also reports from Indiana, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and many other states in the United States.

And some have dirty minds.. A lawsuit in Illinois, for example, is claiming that a clown assaulted a girl with sex toys in a haunted house, ‘violently poking’ the 17-year-old female with a purple vibrator..

Scary clowns are inundating Fishers, Indiana. The neighborhood watch program is especially creeped out, worried that the clowns pose a danger ..

The Christian Science MONITOR is attempting to address the situation of clown sightings, writing a piece on what parents should do to prepare their children from the tricks and scares of Halloween night.

Being Halloween, people are again reaching into the other worldly notions as to explain the clown sightings.. Perhaps evil personified as the vile death face lurks.. Maybe it’s because we are plagued with a new plague of Ebola, and just as the Middle Ages gave us people in paint to mock death, we are cyclically going through the cycle again. Or… just as what usually happens.. this pesky problem of clowns are just a product of the viral nature of the internet, with people lending their own outfits into the mix. And scaring.. Being a part of something. Being a part of a national trend.

The show AMERICAN HORROR STORY features a really frightening clown, Twisty–perhaps the scariest since Pennywise danced on the television adaptation of Stephen King’s IT during the 1990s..

But there could be another issue in play. The DAILY BEAST is running an interesting article concerning the clown sightings.. Oliver Jones quotes Andrew McDonnell Stott, an English professor at the University of Buffalo. Oliver writes,

Stott argues that they were somewhat questionable figures to begin with. “Really, it existed since middle ages,” he says. “There was the sense of the clown being embodiment of frailty and the absurdity life. The subtext of the clown is that life is a joke and can be snatched away at any moment.” The concept of the bifurcated clown was solidified with Joseph Grimaldi, the celebrity clown from the early 1800s who was also well known for his depression, alcoholism, sacrificing his body for comedy, and dying in penniless obscurity.    

And the DAILY BEAST report goes on to explain why Stott thinks clowns are on the rise again:

“Clown sightings are cyclical,” says Stott, who says that urban legend of creepy clowns in ice cream trucks ran rampant during the economic downturn of the 1980s. “They tend to be recessionary. It is not surprising that these images should be showing up during a time of unraveling of job security. They go back to clowns being at the bottom of the economic and social ladder, and to them being tied to the unreliability of work and the fragility of the structures that used to be counted on, like having a single job for your entire career. They are a reminder that human endeavor can be reduced to ashes in a blink of an eye.”

That is a very fascinating, and non-paranormal take, on why we are seeing so many creepy smiling goons across the nation.

Though not all people admit being scared of clowns, there is a deep reason we should be.
As Stott alluded to, clowns have been around since the time of disease and famine, plague and pestilence. Their features resemble that of a corpse.. they are amplified and made into a comical jest, but the overall appearance is still of a rotting person postmortem.. And some of the most vile creatures have masqueraded as clowns.  John Wayne Gacy murdered children in tortuous ways. But when he wasn’t committing atrocities, he was posing as a kid-friendly clown named POGO.. Gacy even painted some really disturbing images of POGO..

Michael Myers was a clown, to a degree.. His pale white face was a false one..
Heath Ledger’s JOKER may have been the ultimate of evil in BATMAN, far outdoing Cesar Romero’s laughing villain and Jack Nicholson’s more somber version.. Tim Curry played a frightening and fowl clown in IT.. And the movie POLTERGEIST featured a clown that would scare children for a decade..

Of course, a trip to the circus or fair will emit laughter and smiles. Clowns will perform tricks for children and they will laugh.. At least some of them. Because that is the clown’s comfortable home.. the element where they belong.

When you take the clown out, though, the presence is foreboding and dangerous.. A clown at midnight.. Lon Chaney Sr. said “The essence of true horror is a clown at midnight.” The pale rider, riding laughter and death to humanity’s demise..

So this year, as we spot clowns from sea to shining sea, some will reach to the paranormal as so often is done in October.. others will chalk it up to repetition, with imitation being the sincerest form of flattery.

And some, like Stott and radio host CLYDE LEWIS on his many programs about clowns, will wonder if we are in some sort of endless cycle where the meme of clowns are used to distract us from the horrors of modern times.. No matter the time we’re in.

So be safe, be sound.. clowns abound.
I assume many will be fine with the premise that this is just a fake national panic sweeping the nation.. That we are just seeing parroting gone amuck. Much ado about nothing, just a few prankters and tricksters trying to get attention as Halloween approaches.

That may be a safe bet.
And you’ll feel secure thinking it..

Until you look out your window, and a wide-eyed white-faced clown in full attire looks back. As the clock strikes midnight.

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