THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
From My Window - Creepy Clowns
Issue Date: October 26, 2016
By Jane Thibodeau Martin
There has been a nation-wide trend of reports about people dressed in "threatening" versions of a clown suit, either "just" scaring people or doing actual harm the last few months. I even heard of a creepy clown report in Europe, meaning an overseas copy-cat clown has taken up the activity. I haven't yet read a credible report of anyone actually being physically harmed, although I not saying it hasn't happened. I am sure we all agree scaring people with cruel intent is wrong, and in our culture of quick use of guns it could be fatal to the clown regardless of his/her intent.
There is nothing new about people in costumes scaring others - after all, what adult isn't familiar with the phenomena of children absolutely terrified of Santa Claus? Santa is supposed to be a kind and benign friend to children " like clowns are; but this doesn't stop some small children from reacting with panic when confronted with such a strange looking creature.
And isn't this effect exactly what is intended by scary Halloween costumes? And horror movies? This isn't at all just a cultural creation of the current century. A quick review of classic literature reveals similar characters " think of Edgar Allen Poe's dark works, or the tale "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" by Washington Irving, first published in 1820. Nearly all adults would be familiar with this classic story, the terrifying apparition of a menacing caped figure seated on a black galloping horse with his head tucked carefully under one arm passing through a dark woods. An even older tale (Hansel and Gretel) tells of an old woman in the woods who killed and cooked children in her big black stewpot.
The fact is, almost all ancient peoples had a verbal or written tradition of a similar figure " a scary, wicked, or evil creature that often had paranormal features, usually accepted as a myth; but without the kind of solid assurance that prevented those people from being scared of the dark, or from glancing nervously over their shoulders from time to time.
It is almost as if we humans must have these kinds of "frights" or fears, and will invent them if it is necessary to do so to fill such a void, if it exists. During my teen years in the late 60's and early 70's this void was filled with both "Yeti-like creatures" found in the dark woods, and a shadowy figure that approached cars at night, using a hook in place of one missing hand to try and enter parked cars. In broad daylight, we all knew no such creatures existed, but in the dark of the night, it wasn't so easy to be sure. These were urban legends of the time " and the creepy clowns seem to be filling that void now.
The reason some people have faith-based dislike or rejection of Halloween is that they see the holiday as pagan-belief based, and there may be a small grain of truth in that.
But Halloween is what you make of it, and I love the burst of creativity it inspires. The thought of families or groups of friends carving pumpkins into all sorts of funny and artistic creations; the beautiful displays of orange lights and fall decorations, the incredibly complex cupcakes and cookies are so much fun to share. Most families have photos of their children in adorable costumes, many homemade with wonderfully imaginative features.
Your Halloween celebration can be as bright, light, and warm as you like it, or have some of the darker, more frightening elements if you wish. Just know that turning Halloween into some sort of "fall festival" will not change the human need for scary and threatening figures, and while the clown trend will likely die down soon, a new apparition will soon arise it take it's place. I wish all of you a safe and happy Halloween, free of unwanted creepy clowns.