Clowns are everywhere. Not just in the news and on TV but they’re terrifying college campuses. We here at BroBible have published TWELVE articles on creepy killer clowns in just the past two weeks, including one Op-Ed from a clown’s rights activist on how this murderous clown epidemic is just a movement of clowns standing up for their right to be clowns. This shit has gotten out of control.
Even people like myself who aren’t at all freaked out by clowns under normal circumstances have started second guessing what they’d do if they are faced with a creepy clown at the end of an alley. The terror level of clowns has gone through the roof, and clowns are scarier than ever. Which begs teh question: what makes clowns scary in the first place?
Here’s what Child psychiatrist Steven Schlozman told CTVNews.ca about why people, kids in particular, can be so innately and irrationally terrified of clowns:
“They are supposed to be fun, but they have been part of the horror canon now for awhile, at least 20 years and probably more,” Schlozman told CTV News Channel on Thursday.
He points to films and television shows that have taken the idea of a fun-loving, happy clown and turned it on its head, introducing the maniacal killer character clowns into our thriller lexicon.
From a neuro-biology perspective, Schlozman said clowns also “violate” the rules of pattern recognition.
“We know what a person looks like — they’ve got two eyes, a nose and a mouth, and so do clowns,” Schlozman said. But with clowns, their facial features are exaggerated and “grotesque.”
In addition, their features are frozen or “stuck,” says Schlozman.
“There’s a permanently painted smile or a permanently painted frown, so you don’t actually know what their motivation is,” he said. “That’s I think what gives people a bit of the willies.”
He actually puts forth several explanations, all of which make perfect sense. For starters, the Horror genre of Film has coopted clowns as murderous psychopaths and over time this image has worked its way into the public ethos of clowns. Next, Dr. Steven Schlozman explains that the mere appearance of clowns violates our most basic neurobiology. The exaggerated and fixed features of a clown completely distort everything our brain expects to see when looking at a human being, and this distortion causes a great deal of stress on our mind which manifests itself in the form of terror.
So, if you recently found yourself scared of clowns but haven’t previously had this fear it might be explained by the heightened level of exposure clowns are getting in the media, and your mind having to grapple with repeated images. Or it might just be because you’re a huge pussy who needs to man the fuck up, but I’m no psychiatrist.