It's turning into a real-life circus! The country's biggest professional clown club is not amused by American Horror Story's nightmare-inducing portrayal of clowns in its fourth anthology, Freak Show.
The new season of AHS takes place in Jupiter, Fla., in the 1950s, and tells the story of a group of misfits with unique attributes. As witnessed in the first two episodes, the town is plagued by the presence of a murderous serial killer in the form of Twisty the Clown, portrayed by John Carroll Lynch.
Glenn Kohlberger, president of Clowns of America International, slammed Twisty's representation on the show as inducing "clown fear" in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter published Oct. 15. As seen in the first several episodes, the psychotic clown kills people in broad daylight while sporting a permanent faded red smile and tattered costume as he stakes out his victims.
"Hollywood makes money sensationalizing the norm," lamented Kohlberger. "They can take any situation no matter how good or pure and turn it into a nightmare."
The organization's president, whose clown persona is Clyde D. Scope, said members of the Clowns of America International were unhappy with the sinister representation of clowns on Freak Show. It doesn't help that membership has declined from 3,500 in 2004 to 2,500 in 2014. "We do not support in any way, shape or form any medium that sensationalizes or adds to coulrophobia or 'clown fear,'" Kohlberger told THR.
The mag also delves into the history behind Coulrophobia (the fear of clowns), which has impacted society via mainstream media and actual real life scenarios. In 1978, an Ohio serial killer named John Wayne Gacy was arrested for murdering at least 33 boys while dressing up as Pogo the Clown. The media at the time dubbed him the "Killer Clown."
Famous films featuring killer clowns include Poltergeist, Stephen King's It, Batman, and the 1988 B-movie Killer Klowns from Outer Space.
Most recently, residents of Bakersfield, Calif. are on high alert as clowns — some carrying baseball bats and machetes — are terrorizing locals. "There's a natural phobia of clowns," Sgt. Joe Grubbs of the Bakersfield Police Department told ABC News on Monday, Oct. 13. "And, clearly, if someone is dressed up as a clown and holding a weapon in a threatening manner, that's going to frighten people."
Series co-creator Ryan Murphy spoke to Us Weekly about the terrifying character at the season four premiere on Oct. 5. "I'm not afraid of clowns, so I keep pushing that at people and leaving the set. I'm like, I'm not afraid of that," Murphy said. "I am afraid of entrapment. There's a sub-story where some people are trapped by the clowns that are subsiding on tears and gruel. I was very afraid of that actually when we got into it. But that is scary to me. And being thrown into a jail cell with no civil rights is scary to me, which many of these performers back in the day experienced. That's scary. A lack of justice and a lack of a voice, scary."
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