“Clowns freak me out,” a co-worker said as we wandered the floor of a sports carnival at a major exposition center. “I mean, really freak me out. Like, it’s a phobia of mine,” she said, pondering several clowns entertaining small crowds around the hall.
The woman is not alone in her fears, and the segment of society that is afraid of clowns seems to have grown considerably the last 40 years or so, sparked by real life psychopaths including John Wayne Gacy, who dressed in clown suits. His perverse legacy has been carried forward by shock performers such as Insane Clown Posse that have built their careers around killer clown psychology.
No more clowning around
For better or worse, the formerly innocent, charming, child-friendly image of clowns has been forever changed. Now the collective public impulse seems to be that of suspicion and fear toward the whole clown tradition. Perhaps the world finally woke up to what it really might mean to hide behind the visage of a clown, as one too many crazy characters emerged (example: Heath Ledger in the Batman movie The Dark Knight) to safely give clowns a free pass to our post-modern psyches.
Which helps explain why my co-worker was totally freaked when a very large clown––weighing 400 lbs. if he weighed an ounce, wandered up behind us as we stood watching a Jesse White Tumblers performance at the sports carnival. The giant clown was breathing so heavily he made a sound like an industrial bellows, and his makeup was badly smeared by the sweat streaming down his face. I glanced at my co-worker to see if she had already noticed this horrific clown standing behind us, but she seemed blissfully unaware. For the moment.
Not wanting my co-worker to suffer emotional trauma, I turned to her and whispered, “Don’t turn around, but there’s a really giant clown behind us. Let’s walk away.” Of course the first thing she did was turn around, and the look of horror on her face could neither be faked or disguised.It all seemed like business as usual to the giant, heavy-breathing clown, staring straight at us with greasy eyes until he finally gave my co-worker a weird smile. That’s when she bolted.
It took more than half an hour of walking around outside the exposition center to calm her down. Even then I could not offer a satisfactory explanation of how or why the heavy-breathing clown showed up behind us. “These things just happen,” I told her. But I knew it wasn’t true. There are forces in the universe that are inevitable and unswerving, like the cat that climbs into the lap of the one person in the room who truly hates cats. The forces of chance––or calculated––evil seem drawn to fear like an open door. Then fear overwhelms the senses like a giant, heavy-breathing clown who is all appetite and no joke.
Clowns and the human condition
Yes, clowning was once considered an art form. Good clowns and perhaps a few mimes have always transcended the human condition to bring us laughs. But bad clowns play on this presumed innocence and leverage the goodwill of well-intentioned clowns, methodically twisting it to their own vicious aims and needs of sociopaths eager to exploit our trusting natures.
That brings us to our current political climate, where certain bands of politicians and their cronies have been going about behaving like happy clowns in hopes we’ll all laugh along as they rape the nation of its wealth. These clowns excel at mouthing timeworn party lines and cracking wise about abortion and family values and banning gay rights as they tear away the progressive virtues of a free and liberal society, or what it should be. That’s what evil clowns do. They take advantage of others while laughingly creating one sick little sideshow after another to distract us from the real evil of their motives.
This giant creepy clown (both a misanthrope and a misogynist) stands innocently behind the lies of politicians pretending to speak for all Americans. In reality he favors only the interests of a few greedy ringmasters and for-hire carnival barkers like Donald Trump. If we let them have their way, the America that was once a land of opportunity will be laid waste beneath the falling tent of middle class hopes and dreams.
The giant, heavy-breathing clown wants what he wants, and that is everything. Yet a big chunk of America sits dumbstruck inside the cable-driven media tent that is the Fox News Circus, laughing at the Rush Limbaugh Show (Dittos! What a clown!) and wandering naively around the Mitt Romney Hall of Mirrors. Why can’t half of America see that these clowns has been leading the nation to a place that is neither good or wholesome, to a place where real freedom is murdered and consumed, not won and shared? The answer is plain and simple: political narcissists love to see their own shallow ideology reflected back at them by the seemingly happy faces of political clowns predicting happy times.
PAC of elephants
Meanwhile, across America, the PAC elephants have secretly been loosed from their cages to wreak havoc in the countryside, razing little towns by tearing down households and pulling up the trees for a bonfire of political vanities the likes of which we have never seen. And still the rapt audience will laugh and cheer. Look at the pretty flames! The light of liberty!
Backstage, the giant, heavy-breathing clown of neo-conservatism is having a perverse little Tea Party with the ringmasters who conceived it all. These are the same ringmasters who stole the presidential election in the year 2000 (Y2K indeed) through use of a conservative Supreme Court whose partisan clowns later ruled that corporations were the same as people. What a funny joke! Let’s all laugh along!
Once in office, the Bush clown posse and its snarling, fetishistic leader Dick Cheney (Power is All) ignored clear warnings of terrorism, thus allowing America to be attacked. Then they used a cloak of resultant fear (like magicians!) to steal off to Iraq and kill a dictator who had nothing to do with the reasons behind the 9/11 tragedy. We now know the Bush clown posse had literally no plan for the future and no budget set aside for its endeavors. They were all just clowning around, hoping for a good outcome.
Indeed, the Bushies proceeded to cut taxes for the rich while rolling out two new wars that had little ultimate purpose other than to express the might of American exceptionalism and maybe (if we’re lucky…) get our mitts on some oil and other resources. But we fumbled away billions of dollars in lost cash during these ventures, so it is no wonder George W. Bush ultimately quipped that “I no longer think about bin Laden” because he was too busy trying to figure out where all our money had gone. Poof! Into the hands of our frenemies.
Clowns at war
The clownish adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan cost thousands of young men and women their lives while crippling tens of thousands more. But the insane clowns in office seemed intent on obscuring the righteous efforts of these young soldiers when they returned home dead or wounded, even blocking publication of photographs of the caskets containing the fallen as they arrived by transport back home on American soil. What were the clowns trying to hide? Evidence of their cruel folly.
The Bush cabal also set in motion a frightening tour of torture abroad while simultaneously setting up an illegal prison camp back “home” (but not really…) at Gitmo. On the island of Cuba no less––the nearby soil of our supposedly sworn enemies!
It was all a sick little political show, “managed” by clowns who ultimately crashed the economy with their “let clowns be clowns” policies of cutting back fiscal regulation while “shrinking government” (what does that even mean?) as if doing nothing was the best thing our nation could think to do. Of course America paid dearly for this grotesque burlesque of slap-happy ideology, and yet here we are all over again, facing down a giant, heavy-breathing clown as America gears up for itsnational elections.
Tea Party Clowns
It is truly stunning that half of America sees fit to continue believing in the activities of these clowns who nearly killed the country the first time. The Tea Party (Mad Hatters?) in the House of Representatives nearly succeeded in forcing America into default on its debt, yet continue to lay claim a mantle of fiscal responsibility. That is nothing short of a perverse joke and a theater of the absurd. But it can get worse. We could go all Milton Friedman on ourselves and take free market economics literally, without reasonable controls or judicious governance. That is not to say that capitalism or corporations are bad. Far from the truth. But we should pay attention when things go badly, so that instead of repeating or expanding upon our recent mistakes, we should learn from them and take reasonable precautions to govern well, and protect the nation’s wealth. Of course that is difficult to do when men like Mitch McConnell make public oaths that their only concern as political servants in America is to frustrate and defeat the President, Barack Obama. How is that statement not treasonous?
The Tea Party’s efforts to undercut the nation’s fiscal commitments were also fairly treasonous. But those folks believe, like the sad old clown act of using a mop to wipe up the light on an otherwise darkened stage, that the act of looking sentimentally patriotic (oh, those poor old patriots, trying to clean up our economy) is far more important than turning up the lights so everyone can see what’s really going on with corporate welfare, gigantic farm and oil subsidies and unbudgeted wars draining society of its wealth and balance. Instead they blame old people for being old and needing health care, and the poor for not having enough money to feed themselves. The new Orwellian double-speak is to blame the blameless and laugh at those who don’t get what’s funny about it.
If the heavy-breathing clown that is the modern day clownglomerate of neo-conservatism is allowed to have its way in the upcoming elections, America will get a real taste repeat austerity craziness on steroids, ushering in the next Clown Kingdom like a new wave of the Roman Empire, only without the parades. Too expensive, you know.
If that happens, those will no longer be clown tears streaming down the face of the heavy-breathing giant, but droplets of sweaty avarice. Because the giant, heavy-breathing clown even wants to ingest your home and family––to keep them safe from the evils of the world, he promises, like a crocodile holding its young between its jagged teeth. But like Fat Bastard in the Austin Powers movies, the giant, heavy-breathing clown is no friend to anyone, and he has his prejudices, so don’t expect to save space for any so-called protection of rights for our gay populace, the black or Latino or female members of society, and especially the Muslims.
Clowns of devastation
The giant, heavy-breathing clown is the manifest expression of every nasty instinct America needs to avoid. Discrimination and divisiveness. Denial of responsibility. Devastation of hope. Dangerous fever for war and imperialism. But he demands that you bow down and pray to him, indirectly of course, lest he upset the Christian conservative base. But you will be praying to him one way or the other.
We can hardly tell the folds of flesh on the giant, heavy-breathing clown from the colorful costume he wears, all wrapped up in red, white and blue as he likes to dress. But mostly, he sees red, in the most evil sense of color-blindness. Because that is not only the political shade of his favorite states in America, but also the hue of the blood that will fly in our gladiatorial political arena if the heavy-breathing clown is (or is not) permitted to have his way in America. He’s a jealous type, you know, and not very patient or kind. It almost seems like he can’t wait for the show to begin, does it not?
There are some who claim that the giant, heavy-breathing clown has taken over both political parties, Democrat and Republican. Of course the Democrats behave like Jokers sometimes, and even clowns in their worst moments. But the fact that the nation has generally and legitimately enjoyed its greatest periods of prosperity and recovery under Democratic leadership––including the present time–– while also delivering greater civil rights for every segment of society, deems them far less the evil clown than their counterparts. Truly, we must be on our guard from heavy-breathing clowns on all fronts. But for right now the top priority is to stave off the vicious clown now slobbering on our collective blue and white collars in America.
Scary clown music
Listen. You can hear the the calliope music of the political ads now washing over the countryside as the giant, heavy-breathing clown approaches. Now he’s reached your back door, and whispering through the screen door at night. It sounds like white noise from the TV: “Vote for me and I’ll make it alllllll better. We’ll get government out of your life and you can trust Captains Grover and Karl and the King Koch Brothers to tell us what to do. When it’s all over, we’ll all have a big laugh together, we promise you that. So let’s all be clowns together, and we’ll grant you a trickle-down share of our sweaty wealth.”
That’s the world they want to create, where we all dress in stars and stripes and run around blessing our good fortune (whether we have it or not) while the political leaders who lay claim to the special providence of God ignore the fact that history proves only fools and clowns can be that arrogant.
So let’s take them for what they are, and leave them in the wake of their own clownish desires. Or else prepare to share your bed, your bank account and even your holy brethren with a giant, heavy-breathing clown. Then you’d better make way for your new, very best friend. He’s breathing down your neck.