Saturday, October 05, 2013

Commerce & Copycats: Creepy Clown Craze Continues...

[Note: Sorry, but I'm not gonna write about ghoulishly goofy characters with red noses and not use some ridiculous alliteration]

Three weeks after a sinister grinning clown began to stage photo ops on the streets of a metropolitan town in East Midlands, low level coulro-madness and the ensuing commercial cash-in continues to rage in the UK, and beyond.

October 4
The now-minorly-famed Northampton Clown is pushing a line of merchandise to finance wider appearances, and will soon be travelling 150 miles to become a temporary Halloween attraction at  the Pleasure Hills theme park in Suffolk.

UK bookies are now placing odds on what locations he will next be seen, and predicting his identity will be soon be revealed as the Pennywise impersonator seems to be in the process of T-shirting his way into kitsch mascot status.

Over in Ireland, however, some concerns have continued in the wake of the even more sinister looking copycat Carrickfergus Killer Clown.  And while Boris the Clown Catcher has not been heard from since the day of NHClown's last daytime appearance near the National Lift Tower over a week ago, this copycat has already spawned his own vigilante pursuers, The Carrick Clown Killers, with a far more faux-militant (gosh I hope those are toy guns) bent Northampton's new blue superhero.

Meanwhile, in Harlow (UK), police released an image of what they called a "clown mask" used in knifepoint robbery during last week's wave of clown-masked crime, but is actually a balaclava version of the  Guy Fawkes mask, made famous in V is For Vendetta (whose writer Alan Moore is coincidentally collaborating on a sinister clown project set in Northampton, and was early on pointed to as a possible Clown suspect).

Across the pond in Pennsylvania, some 200 miles from where unsubstantiatable rumors of clowns abducting youth in vans ran rampant in 1981, a girl is now being accused with having made up a story of being abducted by a man in a clown mask driving a black SUV... perhaps inspired by the worldwide social media phenomenon surrounding this real life creepy clown?

And now a rumor just tonight has the #NorthamptonClown possibly sighted in a whole other county...

Whether NorthamptonClown(TM) is profiting or simply covering expenses and giving to charity as he claims, the commercialization of the Killer Clown is certainly nothing new.  This progression has been growing in spurts since the late 70s and now you'd be hard pressed to find a costume shop at least in the U.S. that doesn't have at least one Evil Clown mask.

And if the hundreds of styles already available weren't enough to make this Halloween season uncomfortable for you coulrophobes out there, Slipknot member M. Shawn "Clown" Crahan has now taken some of the most unsettling aesthetics of the clown and basically combined them with the creepiest Cenobite from the Hellraiser movies. 

With all this hype and publicity around the world going into October snowballing from a cryptic clown, that just happened to start walking the streets on a September Friday the 13th when stores, theaters and TV markets throughout the world were starting to lay out some of their more seasonal Horror genre wares, sales of creepy clown crap may reach new records this Halloween season...

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Copycat Clowns: Costumed Crime Spikes in Wake of Northampton Clown

The furor of worldwide media activity surrounding the Northampton Clown has subsided somewhat over the past week and a half following his first exclusive interviews, and while continues to make occasional choreographed appearances rigorously pursued by The Clown Catcher, Northampton journalist Annabel Howard and others, his viral fan growth seems to have slowed.

Meanwhile, in the wake of his global explosion, a rash of clown-costumed crime broke out in the U.S. and U.K. over a ten day period.

Four days after the first appearance of Northampton's  Extreme Tim Curry Fan, three men in clown masks robbed a Brooklyn electronics store.
Holy Clown Capers, Batman!
Over the next week, 6 people were robbed at knife-point by a clown in Harlow (UK), followed by more clown masked robberies throughout Chicago, another bank holdup in Kirkland Key, Washington, and even a GameStop in Palm Desert, California

This is not merely selective attention- I have maintained Google Alerts for news and blog stories involving clown crime for years, and five such incidents in such a period is definitely up from the average of two media-reported clown-masked larcenies in the world per month.

Perhaps the most obvious direct copycat of the Northampton Clown was the emergence four days ago of another Killer Clown impersonator in Northern Ireland.  Authorities in Carrickfergus, County Antrim, issued an alert after an even more menacing looking clown began having pictures of himself around local playgrounds. 

Responding with surprise to immediate public backlash from the community (has he not been paying attention?), the Carrickfergus Clown "turned himself in" and apologized to anyone who was frightened.

"That wasn't the aim.  The aim was for a bit of fun. I'm a parent myself," said the un-named prankster.

We've seen past mini-spikes and patterns in upticks of clown-costumed crimes or pranks before, perhaps correlated with mass airings or new releases of films with EVIL CLOWNS.

We have also seen, most horrifically in Aurora, Colorado last summer, how depictions of such figures can exercise a powerful hold over the imagination of an unbalanced and violent mind.

Meanwhile, the still slightly mysterious Northampton Clown is gentrifying and commercializing as he prepares to take his show on the road... but as he becomes more of an ironic T-shirt mascot, the current waning wave of interest is likely to continue its decline, and this current photogenic "phantom clown" sensation is likely to settle into its place as a brief, but significant, footnote in an evolution of a social symbol that predates Tim Curry, Stephen King, John Wayne Gacy and The Joker...