Halloween is, obviously, the most important holiday of the year and what you wear on that day is your statement to the world about how original, fun, cultured, and resourceful you are. If you mess it up, you have to wait a whole year for another shot at acclaim. I’m not going to tell you what to be for Halloween this year (although here’s one option!) because that’s a highly personal decision you should discuss only with your life partner and / or physician. I’m not trying to be dramatic, just setting the stakes here!
Normally I would hesitate to weigh in whatsoever. But this year, I feel that I must, out of decency: if you dress up as a clown this Halloween, you will regret it.
You might think dressing up as a clown would be a funny thing to do, because it plays on a widespread fear that has recently been pulled to the surface by dozens of pranksters and sociopaths and overactive social media accounts operated by local news stations. You might think it’s more topical and less offensive and significantly cheaper than dressing up as Harambe or Donald Trump’s $60,000 head merkin. You might think “I already have a clown costume, from when I was Twisty the Clown for Halloween two years ago” and decide just to roll with it.
Resist that inner monologue!
You will only exacerbate a ridiculous problem that has led to many terrible attempts at solutions. Thanks to the clowns, we are already facing the following dire circumstances:
- McDonald’s isn’t letting Ronald McDonald go outside. McDonald’s says that Ronald McDonald will stop making public appearances for the time being in deference to “the current climate around clown sightings in communities.” McDonald doesn’t deserve this. Not this year. Not after all he’s been through.
- Batman (a fictional person) is patrolling the streets now. A costume shop in Whitehaven, Cumbria has unleashed a man in a Batman suit to ease everyone in town’s fears about clown attacks. In this fun game they invented, the clowns are The Joker — a violent psychopath! And a random man is Batman — a non-violent psychopath!
- College students are forming “vigilante flash mobs” to hunt clowns. I’ve never seen a vigilante flash mob but based on my experience with Disney animated films of the 1990s this is a bad idea.
- Lots of people in the news media are using puns in their clown headlines. This is causing some unfortunate SEO for the great Smokey Robinson. Try harder!
- The internet is having an important but altogether too philosophical and confusing debate about what defines a person as a genuine “clown,” versus just a “person in clown’s clothing.” And then of course, when is a genuine clown an evil clown and when is it just a whatever clown? Truly, do we ever find self-actualization? Probably not.
I just don’t think it’s a good idea for you to make yourself a part of this problem. Be part of the solution by not dressing up as a clown.
be part of the solution — not a clown
The biggest reason I don’t think you should dress as a clown, however, is not a morality appeal. The biggest reason you should not dress up as a clown is because it’s not going to be worth it. Nobody will think it’s funny! The clown panic was birthed and has thrived online. Internet joke costumes tend to fall flat. We often misjudge how much internet culture is the broader culture, and that’s why things like this embarrassing “damn Daniel” moment on The Bachelorette happen. By the time we adapt a Twitter goof into a costume, the moment has passed, and we look like an out-of-touch fool.
On the flip side, you’re also running the risk of getting the up-down at every costume party and then hearing the worst four words in the English language: “Oh. I get it.” Anyone who gets it is just going to... get it. Not laugh. Just get it. Maybe the only worse thing you could do is dress up as the children of Stranger Things.
Yes, this pretty bad year has produced a lot of snark, and it’s possible some of us have forgotten how to speak or act without somehow referencing a meme, but the least we can do to honor the magical annual celebration of candy and skull makeup is to try. Halloween is a time for joy and creativity and experimenting with life as the Babadook. It’s the one secular holiday that doesn’t fall back on celebrating familial or romantic relationships and instead just lets you celebrate yourself, your inner demons, and your outward ability to draw spider veins on your hands with purple eyeliner. Though shlock and cliche have their place and are an important part of the Halloween tradition, this is not a time to troll your friends with your least imaginative stab at shock humor. Give a good costume (this one!) a chance. Don’t be a clown.