What's the deal with the clowns in the woods?

UPDATE: Stephen King confirmed with the Bangor Daily News that the clowns don’t have ties to the upcoming “It” reboot.

So, apparently, not only is 2016 the worst year ever, but it’s also the year of the clown.

Over the past month or so, children in the Carolinas have been telling their parents about clowns that have been lurking outside the woods, trying to lure them in. One woman even saw a clown around 2:30 a.m. one night, waving at her underneath a street lamp.

No, seriously.

Some people think it’s a joke or a hoax, some people don’t. The police, however, are not amused.

“If this is a hoax or publicity stunt it is not funny,” Greensboro police spokeswoman Susan Danielsen tells PEOPLE. “It is alarming to the public and a drain on police resources. We just don’t know at this point, because we haven’t had the chance to interview any clowns.”

Maybe it’s a terrifying marketing tactic for the upcoming recreation of Stephen King’s “It” in 2017. But distributors of an upcoming Rob Zombie movie about kidnapped carnival workers have denied any ties. What’s worse? Every time an adult (like on Tuesday, when a guy chased a clown back into the woods with a machete) or the police have tried to confront the clowns, they haven’t been able to find them. Because police haven’t been able to wrangle any clowns in, people are taking matters into their own hands.

“It’s getting a little bit scary because people are starting to believe it a little bit more, and we’re starting to see some of those unsettling pictures on Facebook,” Mr. Guzan told a local ABC affiliate. “Not of the clown, but of people armed and preparing to defend themselves, saying, ‘I can’t go outside because I’m afraid of clowns,’ or whatever. That’s just a little too far.”

In an interview with the New York Times, Steven Schlozman, a child psychiatrist who teaches about the psychology behind horror films at Harvard, says that the instinctive fear of clowns comes from the part of our brain that recognizes exaggerated human features could mean danger. He says the reaction to the thing that scares us is truly where horror stems from.

“It has this kind of capacity to grab you emotionally before it grabs you cognitively,” Dr. Schlozman said in the interview. “That’s the key to making something viral online actually: to make people emotionally engaged before they’re intellectually engaged.”

Which implies that, regardless of whether or not these clowns are part of a stunt or mean real harm, the people who live on the receiving end of this occurrence are the ones we should be afraid of.

Guys, America’s a wormhole of absurdity and we need to leave.

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Posted in Articles, Arts+Culture, Movies, Television

Blayne Waterloo is a reporter for Fly. She loves food, books, her dogs, her husband... and food.

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Comments (3)

    • Blayne Waterloo

      Dear Capella,
      I agree! This clown business is getting out of hand. I don’t think you should necessarily avoid the woods, however, I’d keep an eye out.
      Good Luck!
      Blayne, who is now officially terrified of clowns

  1. I live in a small town called Steele Mo we have a couple guys hanging out near a grave yard i fear for there safety i cant beleave kids would be stupud enough to dress up at clowns knowing whats what could happen if the right people see them knowing the people in this town they will prob be beatten or even killed how stupid is this they think its funny till someone gets hurt or even killed

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