Speed Reads

clownin' around

Clowns to Hollywood: Stop making us look like twisted murderers

It wouldn't be Halloween without a few psychotic clowns — and pop culture offers plenty of choices. There's Stephen King's It, preying on the children of a small Maine town; Batman's Joker, raining anarchy onto Gotham City; and Ronald McDonald, luring young Americans toward childhood obesity. Even now, new clowns are entering the horror canon; Gawker recently posited that American Horror Story's introduction of the deranged new character Twisty the Clown was the show's scariest scene ever.

But Hollywood's affinity for creepy clowns isn't sitting well with at least one man: Glenn Kohlberger, the president of Clowns of America International. "Hollywood makes money sensationalizing the norm. They can take any situation no matter how good or pure and turn it into a nightmare," says Kohlberger in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. "We do not support in any way, shape or form any medium that sensationalizes or adds to coulrophobia or 'clown fear.'"

Despite Kohlberger's protests, the days of the (non-murderous) clown might be numbered. The story adds that Clowns of America International has just 2,500 members, down from 3,500 in 2004.

In 2008, a Glasgow children's hospital removed images of clowns from its walls after concluding that they were frightening to young patients. "Very few children like clowns," said a child psychologist at the time. "They are unfamiliar and come from a different era. They don't look funny, they just look odd."