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Published October 31st 2017

Clowns Have Had a Tough Year, But is IT Movie to Blame?

Clowns are losing their job and pointing fingers at the newly released movie, IT. But who's really to blame? Brandwatch React investigates.

Clowns are having a tough time right now.

Most of us are still scarred over those face-painted bozos luring children into the woods (disclaimer: I do not love clowns), so it’s no surprise to find out there’s been an outcry in professional clown circles about job loss due to scary depictions of their profession, most prominently in the recent IT movie.

In fact, the clowns’ complaints have spread so far that even Stephen King has taken to Twitter in defense of the film’s scary story.

Pop culture is seriously harshing the professional clown’s vibe.

But is it just the movie to blame for clown redundancies? Or is there something deeper driving clowns out of their tiny cars and into temp agencies? Filled with Halloween spirit, the Brandwatch React team jumped into Brandwatch to find out.

Everything’s eventual

Hatred of clowns isn’t a new thing. Some of us remember when the first IT movie came out, terrifying viewers – were clowns complaining about losing jobs then? Maybe so, but we didn’t have social listening then, so let’s put that aside. Instead, we’ll look at what people are saying now.

While mentions of ‘clown’ and ‘hate’ often relate back to the IT movie, there are some other trends worth noting as possible causes for clown job loss.

First stop, the topics cloud in Brandwatch Analytics. I searched for mentions of “clowns” on Twitter back to the 1st of January this year using Unlimited Historical Data, and there was one big topic that caught my attention – “Donald Trump”.

When we look at the top-mentioned tweeters in relation to “clowns” – number one is @realdonaldtrump. He’s a clown, people who voted for him are clowns, people who didn’t vote for him are clowns. We’re all clowns and nobody means it in a nice way.

And that’s not to say he isn’t willing to dish out the clown-related insults also.

Using Brandwatch Quick Search, I did a simple search for mentions of Trump within my “is a clown” data, and found plenty of evidence of the term being used in a derogatory manner.

(The below mentions aren’t all naming Trump as a clown, we’re just searching for tweets where something/someone is called a clown that also mention Trump).

Could it be that our fear of clowns has become so tied to the President of the United States that we no longer want those clowns at our party because we now associate them with the current political landscape? The latest edition of the New Yorker isn’t doing clowns any favors.

In fact, words associated with President Trump (Trump, @realdonaldtrump, @potus etc) are mentioned alongside “clowns” more this year than “Pennywise” or @ITMovie.

For all the clown-related content surrounding Trump, Stephen King actually banned him from seeing the IT movie.


But we can’t blame politics alone for the public going off clowns. I took a deeper dive and searched for mentions of, “I hate clowns because” and found some other reasons that the professional clown industry might want to take into consideration.

If you ask a clown, they’ll tell you their mission is to care, not to scare. But according to what I’ve found in Brandwatch, those efforts to bring joy are actually bringing on fear.

Disguises, serial-killer clowns, balloons popping in faces, Air Bud. These efforts to entertain are backfiring and the pain of those memories linger. It only takes one bad experience to put someone off clowns for life.

Can clowns see through The Mist?

So what’s a clown to do in these troubling times? Maybe some image rehabilitation is in order for the clown associations of the world. The World Clown Association’s stance on scary clowns, according to this statement, is clear – scary clowns are not real clowns. But will this be enough to reverse the public sentiment?

I decided to take a closer look at tweets that mentioned “love clowns” and “hate clowns” to see if anyone out there can lend a bit of hope for the clown industry. It’s not looking great. People just don’t like clowns.


Interestingly, though, when we dive into mentions of love and clowns, what we find is the ultimate contradiction.

Some people love clowns BECAUSE of the film IT.

It may be that it’s time for the clown industry to embrace the fear, rather than fight it. Put on those big shoes and that red nose. Grab your chainsaw and get out there, clowns. Scare us. Necessity is the mother of invention, after all. Embrace your new reputation and the work will come. Just stay out of the woods.

Are you a journalist looking to cover our data? Email us at [email protected] for more information

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