Dateline: 16th September 2013

The Northampton Clown

Despite their origins as a source of entertainment for children, clowns are often portrayed in a sinister light in today's culture. Not helped by the likes of John Wayne Gacy, coulrophobia is seemingly rife at the cultural level, with clowns routinely being presented in a sinister light. Stephen King's 'Pennywise' is possibly the acme of the sinister clown, but the meme stretches back at least as far as the clowns in Disney's Dumbo.

There have been repeated outbreaks of mass clown fear over recent decades. Most famously, police in Boston Massachusetts back in May 1981 warned parents and school officials that men in clown suits were harassing elementary schoolchildren. One of the men was seen wearing a clown suit just from the waist up; from the waist down he was naked. A flurry of reports of near-abductions followed over the next several days until the panic subsided as suddenly as it had arrived. In this sense, clown panics can be said to mirror reports of bogus social workers.

It is against this backdrop that an as-yet-unidentified prankster has seemingly invaded Northampton in clown guise. In a series of pictures posted via social media, the Northampton Clown has made quite a stir - garnering over 31000 fans on Facebook at the time of writing.

The reasons for the prank are unknown, but rumours that he wields a knife or is a paedophile have quickly become current amongst commentors on his Facebook page. Inevitably (in what appears to be a copycat case) the police have been called - despite the lack of any evident crime having been committed.

A short mockumentary called "the local clown" has been discovered on YouTube in which a very similar clown costume is displayed. The film's maker denies any involvement in the Northampton clown scare.

We breathlessly await further developments.

Data Files

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