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Brooke Palmer/Warner Bros.
Clowns weren’t always the terrifying subjects of many horror movies, but the American idea of clowns as happy is not historically true either.
They were complicated and often subversive figures, tracing back to the theatrical characters of 16th century Italy.
Well into the 20th century, clowns weren’t evil or terrifying, but they weren’t simply good or happy either.
Bozo the Clown and Ronald McDonald appeared on TV in the 50s and 60s, making clowns both extremely popular and omnipresent.
Since child-friendly clowns had to be inoffensive, cheerful, and happy all the time, they were bound for a counter-culture backlash.
In order to understand how clowns got creepy, first you have to understand how clowns got happy.
As long as there have been people, there have been clowns, who sometimes go by different names: trickster, fool, buffoon, joker, freak. History’s clowns are ambiguous, complicated, often subversive figures. They can speak truth to power, say things no one else can, like a jester. They can be poetic and mischievous, like Charlie Chaplin. They can be sad, like Emmett Kelly’s Weary Willie, one of the stars of Ringling Brothers in the ’40s and ’50s who was modeled on Depression-era hobos and wore rags and had a sooty beard. Clowns can be romantic, ironic, depressed, cruel, sweet, dopey, or devilish, and they use different kinds of comedy, from slapstick to satire, to riff on the human condition through humor.See the rest of the story at Business Insider
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