Amidst the drama of the peak of election season and heightened tensions in the Middle East, a new phenomenon has arisen in the U.S.: the clown invasion. While it may sound like a large-scale practical joke, clown sightings and attacks have garnered international media attention.
The clown craze started in late August in South Carolina, where, as TIME Magazine reported, “Unsubstantiated reports surfaced that clowns were spotted trying to lure children into the woods.” While the merit of the reports was the center of much controversy, the story caught national attention. Soon, clown sightings began appearing all over the country, some even spreading internationally to the United Kingdom.
Recently, clown sightings shared via social media at Pennsylvania State University ignited retaliation in the form of students grabbing anything from baseball bats to tennis rackets to partake in the “clown hunt.” Despite the riot-like connotation, CBS Pittsburgh reported that the hunt was more just students having fun, and no violence or property damage resulted.
While the phenomenon may elicit a smile or a few laughs, according to the “International Business Times,” clown attacks have resulted in over a dozen arrests. Nine people in Alabama were arrested for “clown-related terroristic threats.” A middle school girl in Athens, GA was arrested for bringing a knife to school, claiming it was protection against clown attacks. On the flip side, the supposed negative light cast upon clowns has generated a response from people whose professions are dressing as clowns claiming their jobs are being negatively affected as a fear of clowns is propagated. To support this, #ClownLivesMatter started trending on social media and a protest will be held Oct. 15th in Tucson, Arizona.
The clown craze reached a point where Stephen King, creator of Pennywise the evil clown from his novel, “It,” urged everyone through a tweet to “cool down the clown hysteria… Most of [them] are good.” While the clown craze may have been initially intended for good fun, King’s message is clear: do not let it get anymore out of hand.