Graphic by Tristan Ipock

Stephen King thinks it is time to tone down the clown hysteria.

As the writer of the book “It,” whose words crawled their way into a fear at best and a phobia at worst (later made into a movie that still haunts the halls of the subconscious of thousands of kids that grew up and are still afraid of clowns), it only makes sense for King to comment on the latest clown craze.

Penn state went clown hunting. Schools have sent letters to parents, others banned clown costumes and schools in Ohio have temporarily shut down. Conspiracy theorists have awoken from their slumber and vigilantes have jumped to the cause.

Ironically though, no one has gotten hurt or died.

All this to say: people have some serious issues.

Not only those who are deliberately dressing up as clowns to terrify people, but those who would willingly play the role of damsel in distress after listening to the news or reading a Facebook post.

Those cowering in fear must have selective memory. We are facing a historic election, global warming, destructive diseases and many more terrifying prospects better not to dwell upon; and all of which are more important that a few adolescents trying to scare people. Instead of focusing on possible solutions to our problems, we decide to lose sleep and organize hunts for crazy clowns.

It is sinister for people to hide behind a costume to inspire fear into people who never signed up for it (like one would at a theme park or haunted house), and redundant if you chose to be a clown.

Thus, I humbly submit to you these alternate costume ideas.

If you trust your squad, you could all dress up with a common theme or do a variation of the “Secret Santa” tradition and have someone else choose or create your costume. Be prepared to either loathe or love your friends based on their choice.

If you have a tangible fear (something you can craft into a costume), dress up in the spirit of Halloween and be the thing you fear most. This could prove to either be therapeutic or traumatizing.

Channel your inner Dr. Seuss and create something completely new; something undefined by a dictionary or depicted in a movie or book. Conversely, you could pay homage to your favorite character by crafting your costume after them/it (tip: choose the underdog, it will make for a good conversation starter).

You could throw it back by dressing as a dinosaur or even a bacteria (see Giant Plush Microbes). Admittedly, this will be difficult to DIY.

You could become a kid again by taking the opportunity to buy something from the new Toy Story Vans collection and styling your costume around it or another movie from your childhood. After all, isn’t this the scariest costume of all? It makes us wonder if we are too old to dress up anymore.

Lastly, you could be heroic and dress up in a costume for an actual cause. For example, a vulva costume created by Conceived in Brooklyn, partner of “50 Cents. Period.” brings attention to the negative stigma girls and women in impoverished communities face around menstruation and who have to deal with a lack of access to feminine hygiene products.

Sadly, instead of hearing about worthy costumes that call attention to a cause, we get to hear about humans who decided to inspire mass hysteria to distract us from the real issues and problems in our world today.

The actual victims in this case are real, we-do-this-for-a-living clowns.

“Clown Lives Matter” is a movement created by a professional clown actor and followed by clown lovers to remind people that clowns do not lurk in the woods trying to kill people. Instead, they are humans that dress up and go to parties and hospitals to try and make people laugh. Or, they work at haunted houses and theme parks to scare people that willingly walk into the attraction knowing what they will expect. Many career clowns now fear for their jobs and even their lives in the midst of the mass hysteria created by a few jokesters looking for a bit of fun.

It isn’t fair for careers to suffer and people to panic due to a few crazies. Neither is it wise to take this whole thing as a joke because, after all, it only takes one person to take this game too far.

If you must dress up as something, at least be original.

So please, quit clowning around.

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