The new film adaptation of Stephen King's novel, It, grossed a whopping $123.1 million over the weekend, as Americans flocked to the theater, united by their fear-slash-love (literally) of killer clowns — but real clowns aren't happy about it, and they're taking to the streets to protest the "negative clown stereotypes" they say the movie perpetuates.
It, about a group of misfit kids who band together to battle an amorphous killer spirit that frequently takes the guise of "Pennywise" the clown, tapped into something primal among moviegoers who, after spending all summer avoiding the cinema, crept back into theaters to experience the murderous carnival act first hand.
In Canada, though, non-murderous clowns banded together for a clown protest march outside a number of theaters showing the thriller, because, they say, clowns deserve to be treated with all the respect owed to a profession full of accomplished balloon-animal makers and jugglers.
"We feel that this has done great harm in the business of clowning and for clowns," an entertainer who goes by the name Dottie The Clown told Vice News. "A number of clown clubs have actually folded due to the negativity surrounding it."
"You need to remember that clowns are people too."
The group, which calls themselves the Thunder Bay Clown Club (tickling your funny bone for 25 years!), also handed out pamphlets that denounced the negative cultural view of clowns, and held an informal "information session" where fully-dressed clowns instructed moviegoers of the "differences between professional clowns and clowns depicted as monsters and villains in film and media."
The major difference, of course, being that the adults dressed in giant shoes, colorful giant pants, and curly wigs on the street are only incidentally creepy, whereas Pennywise is deliberately terrifying.
In fairness to the clowns, 2016's string of "killer clown" sightings across the country did have an impact on the clowning business, and hit some clowns where they don't squeak: their bottom line. The profession, which was already on a slide thanks to millennials who, it turns out, hate clowns as much as they hate home ownership and Applebee's, lost even more market share last year when parents cancelled birthday party clown bookings fearing their children would be too scared.
The clowns say they've suffered enough, and they'd like you to stop thinking of their profession as full of homicidal maniacs — and do a few other things, like not see It.
"All of this hurts us because we do such good in the community, but we embrace it, we understand what's happening," Dottie the Clown says. "That's what we want to give this information and say: 'Don't promote It, don't go out on Halloween and dress your kids as scary clowns, don't perpetuate the idea of evil clowning.'"
Its gotten so dire for clowns that the World Clown Association has even issued a statement and a press kit to journalists covering It, so that they might be better educated about the true vocation of clowning.
We understand that some people enjoy the "horror genre" of entertainment, but we find that many people are confronted by images of horror characters (impersonating clowns) and are startled by them ... which is obviously the goal of these horror characters. In my opinion, these horror characters are not clowns. Even the character in the movie "It" should be understood to be a fantasy character — not a true clown.
The WCA goes on to warn that the "killer clowns" of last year were mostly amateur clowns. There hasn't been a professional murder clown since John Wayne Gacy, and that was several decades ago. The vast majority of clowns, the WCA says are just trying to spread a message of laughter, hope, and peace, and Pennywise will not derail or deter them.
"It is true that various horror clown portrayals work against our goal. We hope our audience realizes that there are different categories in entertainment. We stay on the positive side of things providing fun, g-rated, child-friendly entertainment," they said.