In the new season of American Horror Story, Freak Show, by far the scariest thing is the swamp-dwelling monster with a half-mask face, Twisty the Clown. He stabs with scissors, does mean little dances, and he keeps prisoners in his scary school bus. But clowns in the real world have fucking had enough of that.
As Glenn Kohlberger, the president of Clowns of America International whose other personality is a big-shoed menace named Clyde D. Scope, says:
"Hollywood makes money sensationalizing the norm... They can take any situation no matter how good or pure and turn it into a nightmare."
Over the last ten years the Clowns of America International has seen its contradictorily titled membership lose one thousand members of its nightmarish horde, dropping to 2,500 thanks to the onslaught of coulrophobia that Clyde D. Scope sees created and sensationalized by the media and not the death-white countenance and eerie silence common to his people.
While in their natural habitat—traveling animal torture exhibitions such as the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circuses, and the contortionate and orgiastic monster shows of Cirque de Soleil and its many impersonators—clowns are no more dangerous than a trained bear or lion, recent reports put roving murderous clowns on the streets of California towns like Bakersfield and Delano, where nobody has anything better to do except get murdered by clowns.
Said Sgt. Joe Grubbs of the Bakersfield Police Department said, evincing the bigotry under which we have labored for too long regarding these natural and majestic predators, "There's a natural phobia of clowns."
To that (entirely accurate) bullshit, Clyde D. Scope offers only this measured response:
"Clowns to killers[?] I choose not to play into any of it. The more attention we give it just gives it more fuel."
As Hollywood Reporter Hollywood reports, the sensationalized and frankly bigoted portrayal of the People of the Honker goes back to Edgar Allen Poe's 1849 short story "Hop-Frog," in which a vengeful dwarf jester sets everybody on fire after dressing them like orangutans: The act of a miscreant by any measure. Not fifty years later, in 1892's Pagliacci, a clown stabs some folks while screaming his ass off, as is the style in most opera. THR also notes the existence of Batman's foe and Clown Prince of Crime the Joker, as well as a small but goddamn crucial clown-related scene in 1982's Poltergeist.
While Stephen King's Pennywise—played by total creeper Tim Curry in the 1990 miniseries based on the very long 1986 book It—brought the evil of clowns into a new light, a previous generation would agree that Sufjan Stevens's pedophilic muse, John Wayne Gacy, also did clowns no favors back in the 1970s.
In related news, the best thing about Season One of True Detective—director and hottie boombalottie Cary Fukunaga—is preparing a big-screen adaptation of King's It. American Horror Story: Freak Show airs its second episode tonight on FX, with a Twisty-centric story planned for episode four, and offering plenty more anti-clown propaganda before then.