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...

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