Crazy clowns all around

What is up with this crazy clown thing? No, really, what’s the deal?

We’re seeing clowns on the street, clowns in the bushes, even clowns supposedly luring kids into vans with candy (though none of those accounts have been confirmed). Reports of menacing jokesters dressing up as clowns are stacking up across the country and terrifying people everywhere. Although no one knows where it started—maybe it began with Heath Ledger’s Joker or Tim Curry’s Pennywise—I do know that what we’re seeing are the exact things nightmares are made of.

Imagine walking through the Park Blocks on your way to the Library or the Rec Center, perhaps to meet a friend for coffee, when you look up from checking Instagram to suddenly see someone standing across campus wearing a puffy, multi-colored costume and a latex clown mask.

Creepy, right?! Would you keep walking in their direction or would you turn and high-tail it out of there as fast as possible?

I’m voting for the latter.

In the last year there have been countless stories spanning from coast to coast of copycat clown sightings. There have been so many accounts that clown-sighting maps have been created and compiled by news stations and websites.

The first reports saw these clowns standing in strange places, such as the edge of wooded areas. Then these clowns began chasing people. Most recently in Oregon, a clown tried to carjack a woman. Sightings of clowns have been reported from Columbus, Ohio where some have reported being chased by a butcher knife-wielding masked clown. A case in Wisconsin, which went to court, supported the right of a local clown named Gags to continue alarming local citizens with his presence and bundle of black balloons. It is clear that opinions of this trend vary widely.

While it is true that people who want to antagonize or do harm to others will always find a way, I am left wondering, why clowns? Although they were originally intended to entertain children, at some point long before this current run of crazy clown sightings, someone was certainly sitting around thinking of ways clowns could be extremely gruesome. After these thoughts, the first clown-based horror movie was produced.

Regular old clowns were considered horrible to many children and even adults before that, with their garish, over-painted lips and huge shoes. (Why is it their feet are so big?) The appropriation of that distorted image turned clowns into monstrous, invokers of spine-chilling fear.

Is there anything to all this hype or are people simply jumping on the trend by donning rubber masks to seek attention? With Halloween on the way we are likely to see a lot more clowns on the streets of Portland; it will be interesting to see if recent events cause an increase or decrease in this traditionally favored costume choice.

The already eerie holiday is usually a time to turn all things macabre, dressing up as zombies and skeletons and dead cheerleaders, but it may become impossible to decipher the partier with good intentions from the malignant harasser dressed in a clown costume. This might be the year to stick with silly and funny costumes like a cereal killer (a box of cereal with a fake knife) or a video game character.

I don’t know about you, but I think I’ll stick with a Disney princess. Cinderella rarely frightens anyone, except for her evil step-mother.