The imminent release of a new film adaptation of Stephen King's horror novel It has caused upset in the world of professional clowning.
The clowns' concerns – doubtless accompanied by mimed theatrical sobbing, oversized hankies and streams of water from fake flowers – have been publicised by their professional body, the World Clown Association. The WCA has expressed fears that adverse publicity surrounding the film's killer clown character Pennywise will lead to cancelled bookings and financial difficulties for its members.
WCA president Pam Moody told The Hollywood Reporter that last year's killer clown craze had already left the association's membership reeling as if they'd been struck on the back of the head in a slapstick fashion with a carelessly wielded plank of wood.
"Last year we were really blindsided," Moody said of the backlash from the craze, which saw individuals dressing up as clowns at unlikely locations in order to scare the public. "People had school shows and library shows that were cancelled."
The WCA are taking steps to avoid the release of It causing similar fallout, however.
"We've since created a press kit to prepare clowns for the movie coming out," she said. The guide, 'WCA Stand on Scary Clowns !!', clearly states that "the character in the movie It should be understood to be a fantasy character – not a true clown", before sensibly pointing out that while Jason from the Friday the 13th series of films may wear a hockey goalie's mask, "people would be mistaken if they actually thought he was a hockey player!"
Not everyone sympathises with the big-shoed entertainers, however. It's producer, David Katzenberg, called the protests from the legitimate clowning industry "somewhat absurd", while Stephen King himself tweeted earlier this year: "The clowns are pissed at me. Sorry, most are great. BUT...kids have always been scared of clowns."
The clowns are pissed at me. Sorry, most are great. BUT...kids have always been scared of clowns. Don't kill the messengers for the message.— Stephen King (@StephenKing) April 10, 2017
But putting the joking aside, Pam Moody explains that the hangover from previous instances of the scary clown phenomenon have sometimes left her members in peril.
Coulrophobia, or the fear of clowns, has left some members of the public with an aggressive stance on clowns and clowning, with occasionally unfortunate consequences. In one recent example, one of her members arrived early for an appearance at a child's birthday party, so waited outside in her car in her make-up until she was due.
"She looks up and there are four police officers surrounding her," Moody said. "Someone in the neighborhood called in a clown sighting."
She did not divulge whether the car then comically fell apart. ®
The "legitimate clowning industry" reference deserves a hat-tip to Seth Abramovitch, the Hollywood Reporter writer who originally coined the term. It is released in the UK and US on September 8.