The news is out: There's a clown shortage. The World Clown Association, the country's largest trade association for clowns, recently reported that membership has dropped from about 3,500 to 2,500 since 2004. And according Clowns of America International President Glen Kohlberger, the problem seems to be that young people just don't want to pursue clowning as a career. As older clowns are retiring, there seem to be fewer and fewer younger clowns to fill their oversized shoes.
We hate to break it to them, but lack of cool isn't the problem -- creepiness is. If you ask a group of young people today how they feel about clowns, we would bet the majority of them would say they find them "sketchy," "scary" or "weird." And there are plenty of reasons why. Pop culture representations and stories of real-life creepy clowns have cemented a negative view of them in many of America's youth. So, here are 14 reasons why clowns are just the worst things ever.
1. Science proves it: Clowns are terrifying.
A University of Sheffield study of more than 250 children, aged four to 16, found that kids were very disturbed by the clown imagery placed on the walls of a children's hospital. Child psychologist Patricia Doorbar said, "Very few children like clowns. They are unfamiliar and come from a different era. They don't look funny, they just look odd." The staff at the hospital reported that they have since gone back to "plain walls with areas decorated appropriately."
2. Zeebo in "Are You Afraid Of The Dark?" made us pee our pants.
Any '90s kid was surely scarred for life after the episode in which Josh steals the evil clown Zeebo's nose at the Funhouse to prove that it's not haunted. But the funhouse was haunted, of course, so the scary Zeebo hunts down Josh.
3. John Wayne Gacy, one history's most disturbing serial killers, was a clown.
John Wayne Gacy - Original Artwork ('Pogo the Clown' self-portrait)
One of the country's most notorious serial killers, Gacy was convicted of the torture, rape and murder of 33 males between 1972 until his arrest in 1978. He earned the nickname "The Killer Clown" because his day job was entertaining kids at parties as "Pogo the Clown." A horrible killer having a strong fascination with clowns is a surefire way to creep a lot of people out.
4. Krusty the Clown was a boozing, smoking, miserable example for kids.
This perverted, degenerate, always-mad character on "The Simpsons" may be hilarious, but in the end, he just gives clowns a really bad rap.
5. Fear of clowns is an actual diagnosable phobia, called coulrophobia.
People who have studied coulrophobia have found a correlation to the "uncanny valley effect", a term developed by people in robotics to describe the emotional response curve experienced by humans observing lifelike non-human entities. Researchers discovered that people who have coulrophobia find a clown's exaggerated features problematic in gauging the clown's true intent. Respondents "cannot distinguish if the clown is as happy as he seems to be, or if he’s about to rip somebody’s face off."
6. You can never tell what's under their extremely baggy clothes.
Seriously, why do they have to wear clothes that are ten times too big for them? What are they hiding in there? We don't want to know...
7. An NPR survey found that most adults think clowns are "mildly disturbing."
In a response to the news of a possible clown shortage, NPR decided to survey about 7,500 adults and gauge their opinions on clowns. Thirty-six percent of the respondents answered that they found clowns to be "mildly disturbing," while the next most common response was 20 percent of the people answering that they think clowns are just "OK."
8. They stick their tongues out at you.
Why do they think this is funny or cute? There is absolutely nothing reassuring or nice about a person dressed up in strange makeup aggressively sticking his tongue out at you.
9. The Joker in Batman is just not funny at all.
We think the Joker has to be one of the most terrifying depictions of a clown ever -- especially Heath Ledger's (brilliant) menacing and extremely evil psycho interpretation in "The Dark Knight."
10. Even Kramer from "Seinfeld" is afraid of clowns.
In the 49th episode of the series, titled "The Opera," a clown asks Kramer if he ever went to the circus when he was little and if he liked it. Kramer responds that when he was young he was scared of the clowns in the circus. The clown then gives Kramer a creepy smile and asks him if he's still scared of clowns. Kramer uncomfortably answers, "Yeah." We agree, Kramer, we agree.
11. A real clown managed to terrorize a British town just by standing around.
In September 2013, an anonymous man dressed in clown clothing would stand around the streets of the town of Northampton in the United Kingdom. He wouldn't speak and would sometimes hold balloons or a clown teddy. We have only one question: "Why?!"
12. When Frasier dressed up as a clown, he gave his father a heart attack.
In one episode of the eponymous series, Frasier has a patient who is afraid of clowns (typical). He dresses up as a clown in an attempt to cure her, but instead scares his father so much that he gives him a heart attack and has to take him to the hospital. And then, once he gets to the hospital, his patient who is afraid of clowns sees him and screams hysterically. See, clowns are just dangerous.
13. Juggalos have turned the clown culture into something completely not kid-friendly.
Fans of the band Insane Clown Posse partake in acts of debauchery, such as spraying cans of Faygo, making loud "whoop, whoop" sounds, listening to aggressive Horrorcore music and maintaining a "joking" obsession with murder. Oh yeah, they also wear excessive amounts of face paint to make their faces look like creepy clowns.
14. Pennywise from "It" will forever haunt your dreams.
We think it's almost impossible to find someone whose perception of clowns wasn't permanently scarred by the movie "It." The movie, based on Stephen King's novel, stars Tim Curry as "Pennywise," a sadistic and wise-cracking clown who haunts the lives of innocent outcast kids by transforming himself into their deepest and darkest fears and exploiting their phobias. This movie makes clowns seem so nice!
In conclusion, the reason why clowns aren't popular anymore is because this seems to be what happens every time they show up at a party...