Spiritual Symbolism

The Symbolism Behind Clowns: What Do They Represent

The symbolism behind clowns and their representation in various cultures has long fascinated scholars and researchers. This article aims to delve into the historical origins of clowns, their evolution, and the cultural significance they hold. Additionally, it explores the darker aspects of clown symbolism, their role in mythology and folklore, psychological interpretations, and the connection between clowns and childhood. By analyzing these facets, we can gain a comprehensive understanding of the societal impact of clowns and speculate on the future of their symbolism.

Key Takeaways

  • Clowns have a long historical origin, originating in ancient civilizations and evolving through medieval Europe and Native American cultures.
  • Clowns have both positive and negative symbolism, representing joy and fear, and their symbolism varies across cultures.
  • Clowns can be interpreted psychologically, representing hidden desires or suppressed emotions, and their makeup adds to their unsettling nature.
  • Clowns have cultural and religious significance, embodying various archetypes such as tricksters, fools, and sad clowns, and playing diverse roles in mythology and folklore.

The Historical Origins of Clowns

The historical origins of clowns can be traced back to ancient civilizations such as Ancient Egypt and Ancient Greece. In these early societies, clown-like figures played significant roles in religious rituals and theatrical performances. The concept of the clown evolved over time, adapting to different cultural contexts and assuming diverse roles within society.

In Ancient Egypt, clowns were known as "pygmies" or "dwarfs." They had a prominent presence in religious ceremonies, where they would entertain the gods with their comedic antics. These clowns were believed to possess magical powers, and their performances were considered essential for ensuring fertility and abundance. Similarly, in Ancient Greece, clowns known as "rustics" entertained audiences during festivals and theatrical productions. Their exaggerated gestures and comedic routines provided comic relief amidst serious tragedies or dramas.

Throughout history, clown traditions have served various cultural purposes. In medieval Europe, jesters entertained royal courts with their witty remarks and acrobatic feats. These court jesters often held privileged positions within society as they could freely criticize those in power without fear of retribution. Additionally, in traditional Native American cultures, clowns played vital roles in religious ceremonies by mediating between the human world and the spiritual realm.

The cultural significance of clown performances is evident across different societies throughout history. Whether providing entertainment during religious rituals or offering commentary on societal norms through satire, clowns have consistently captured the attention of audiences worldwide. The evolution of clown traditions reflects changes in social dynamics and cultural values while maintaining an enduring appeal that transcends time periods and geographical boundaries.

The Evolution of Clown Symbolism

This discussion will explore the evolution of clown symbolism, examining its historical origins, psychological interpretations, and modern stereotypes. The historical symbolism of clowns can be traced back to ancient civilizations, where they often represented both joy and fear. From a psychological perspective, clowns have been analyzed as figures that tap into deep-seated fears and emotions within individuals. Furthermore, contemporary society has perpetuated certain stereotypes about clowns, portraying them as either comedic entertainers or sinister figures associated with horror.

Historical Clown Symbolism

Historical records indicate that clown symbolism has been present in various cultures throughout history. Clowns have held different roles and meanings, depending on the historical context and cultural significance analysis. In ancient Greece, for example, clowns were known as "rustic fools" and were often portrayed as simple-minded characters who provided comic relief. In medieval Europe, clowns were associated with the Feast of Fools, a festival where social norms were temporarily overturned. They represented chaos and disorder but also served as a means of catharsis for society. In Native American cultures, clown figures had spiritual significance and were believed to possess healing powers. The analysis of clown symbolism reveals its multifaceted nature across different time periods and cultural contexts, highlighting its role in reflecting societal values and providing entertainment or spiritual guidance.

Psychological Interpretation of Clowns

Psychological interpretations of clowns offer insights into the underlying motivations and fears associated with their presence in popular culture. Clowns have long been a subject of fascination and intrigue, often evoking mixed emotions ranging from amusement to discomfort. Understanding the psychological implications of clowns can shed light on their significance in various contexts.

Clown therapy: The use of clowns as therapeutic tools has gained popularity in recent years. This approach aims to alleviate emotional distress and promote healing by engaging individuals in playful interactions with clowns. It is believed that the clown’s exaggerated behavior and humorous antics create a safe space for self-expression and catharsis.

Clown symbolism in dreams: In psychoanalysis, dreams featuring clowns may symbolize hidden desires or suppressed emotions. The clown’s mask-like face can represent a façade one puts on to mask their true feelings or intentions. Additionally, the juxtaposition between laughter and fear often associated with clowns may reflect inner conflicts or unresolved psychological tensions.

Overall, exploring the psychological interpretations of clowns allows us to gain a deeper understanding of their impact on individuals’ emotions, behaviors, and subconscious thoughts.

Modern Clown Stereotypes

Modern clown stereotypes have evolved over time and are often associated with exaggerated makeup, colorful costumes, and comedic performances that aim to entertain audiences. The modern clown makeup typically includes a white face with bold, exaggerated features such as red lips and rosy cheeks. This makeup serves to enhance the clown’s expressions and make them more visible from a distance. Clown performances have also evolved to incorporate various forms of comedy, including physical humor, slapstick routines, and witty banter. These performances often involve interaction with the audience through improvisation or scripted acts. Clowns use their costumes and props to create visually engaging and humorous scenarios that elicit laughter from spectators. While these stereotypes may differ across cultures and contexts, they generally depict clowns as cheerful entertainers who bring joy and laughter to people of all ages.

The Cultural Significance of Clowns

Cultural interpretations of clowns vary across different societies and can encompass themes such as humor, satire, and social commentary. The cultural significance of clowns is evident in their ability to elicit emotions and reactions from audiences, which in turn has a societal impact.

Clowns as entertainers: In many cultures, clowns are seen as comic performers whose primary role is to provide laughter and amusement. They use physical comedy, slapstick humor, and exaggerated gestures to entertain audiences.

Clowns as social commentators: Some clowns use their comedic performances to critique societal norms and conventions. Through satire and parody, they highlight absurdities or challenge the status quo. This form of clowning can serve as a powerful tool for social criticism.

Clowns as tricksters: In some cultures, clowns embody the archetype of the trickster figure. Tricksters disrupt established order and challenge authority through their mischievous behavior. They often expose hypocrisy or reveal hidden truths by using humor.

The cultural significance of clowns lies in their ability to reflect the values, beliefs, and concerns of a society while also providing entertainment. By using humor and satire, they have the potential to influence public opinion on various issues. However, it is important to acknowledge that not all societies view clowns positively or interpret them in the same way.

As we delve into the dark side of clown symbolism…

The Dark Side of Clown Symbolism

Examining the negative connotations surrounding clown figures reveals a darker side to their portrayal in society. While clowns are often associated with joy, laughter, and entertainment, there is a significant portion of the population that experiences psychological fear of clowns, known as coulrophobia. This fear stems from various factors including exaggerated features, unpredictability, and the potential for harm hidden behind a mask of humor.

To understand the dark side of clown symbolism better, let us consider some key aspects:

Psychological fear of clowns can be traced back to childhood experiences or traumatic incidents involving clowns. The exaggerated features and unnatural appearance can trigger anxiety and discomfort in susceptible individuals. Moreover, clowns have historically been associated with trickery and deception in mythology and folklore.

The use of makeup by clowns also contributes to their unsettling nature. Behind the colorful mask lies an unknown persona that creates a sense of unease. Additionally, media portrayals often depict clowns as sinister characters involved in criminal activities or horror scenarios. These representations further perpetuate the association between clowns and fear.

In conclusion, while many people enjoy the performances by clowns for their comedic value and lightheartedness, it is essential to acknowledge that there is a dark side to their symbolism. The psychological fear associated with clowns stems from various factors such as traumatic experiences and media portrayals. Understanding this darker aspect allows for a more comprehensive analysis of the role of clowns in mythology and folklore.

In the subsequent section, we will delve into exploring the multifaceted role of clowns in mythology and folklore, shedding light on their deeper symbolic meaning.

The Role of Clowns in Mythology and Folklore

In mythology and folklore, clowns play diverse roles that reflect the complexity of human emotions and experiences. They are not only found in popular culture but also have significant religious connotations. The role of clowns in religion is multifaceted, with different cultures attributing varied meanings to these figures.

  • In some Native American tribes, clowns are seen as sacred beings who possess the power to heal and bring laughter. They are believed to have a direct connection with the spiritual realm and act as intermediaries between humans and deities.
  • In ancient Greek mythology, there were clown-like figures called "silenus" who served as companions to Dionysus, the god of wine and revelry. These sileni represented the uninhibited aspects of humanity, embodying both joyous celebration and excess.
  • Within certain African religions, clown-like characters known as "tricksters" play a pivotal role. These tricksters use humor and mischief to challenge societal norms and often serve as agents of change.

Clowns have also permeated popular culture across various mediums such as literature, film, television, and theater. They evoke a wide range of emotions from amusement to fear due to their ability to blur boundaries between comedy and horror. This dichotomy is evident in iconic characters like Pennywise from Stephen King’s "It," who embodies both comedic elements through his playful demeanor while instilling terror through his malevolent actions.

Overall, the role of clowns in mythology, religion, and popular culture is complex and multi-dimensional. They serve as symbols that transcend mere entertainment or decoration; instead, they represent profound aspects of human existence including healing powers, celebration, rebellion against established norms or even fear itself.

Transition: Understanding these diverse roles provides insight into the various archetypes associated with clowns throughout history…

Clown Archetypes and Their Meanings

One can gain insight into the various meanings associated with clown archetypes by exploring their roles and representations throughout history. Clowns have been a prominent figure in many cultures, taking on distinct personas and embodying different characteristics. The significance of these clown archetypes lies in their ability to reflect societal values, fears, and desires.

To better understand the diverse meanings of clown archetypes, a table can be utilized to categorize their characteristics and symbolism across different cultures:

The psychology behind clown symbolism is multifaceted. On one hand, clowns often serve as a source of entertainment and laughter for audiences. They provide an outlet for humor and playfulness in our lives. On the other hand, clowns can also evoke feelings of unease or fear due to their exaggerated features and unpredictable behavior. This dichotomy reflects the complex nature of human emotions.

Moreover, clown archetypes often challenge societal norms through satire or mockery. By exaggerating certain traits or behaviors, they highlight inconsistencies or absurdities within society. This allows individuals to question prevailing beliefs and attitudes.

Clown Symbolism in Literature and Art

Clown symbolism in literature and art is often utilized to explore the complexities of human emotions and challenge societal norms. Clowns have long been a source of fascination and intrigue, their exaggerated appearances and behaviors serving as a metaphor for the masks we wear in our daily lives. In both literature and art, clowns are often portrayed as figures who embody a duality of emotions, reflecting the highs and lows of the human experience.

Clown symbolism in movies:

Movies such as "It" (2017) use clown symbolism to evoke fear and terror. The sinister portrayal of clowns taps into primal fears, highlighting their ability to manipulate their emotions and intentions.

Conversely, some movies like "Patch Adams" (1998) present clowns as symbols of joy, laughter, and healing. These films depict clowns as catalysts for positive change, challenging societal expectations by embracing humor as a means of connection.

Clown symbolism in advertising:

Advertisers often employ clown imagery to capture attention and create an emotional connection with consumers. Clowns can represent playfulness, creativity, or even rebellion against established norms.

However, some advertisements also utilize clown symbolism to convey a sense of unease or discomfort. This approach aims to challenge viewers’ expectations and provoke thought about societal issues or personal anxieties.

Overall, clown symbolism in literature and art serves as a powerful tool for exploring the complexities of human emotions. Whether it is through movies that evoke fear or inspire laughter or advertisements that aim to captivate audiences with unconventional imagery, clowns continue to be significant cultural icons that challenge our understanding of ourselves and society at large.

The Psychological Interpretation of Clowns

The origins of clown phobia can be traced back to various factors, including cultural influences and personal experiences. Understanding the psychological interpretation of clowns requires an examination of their role as a persona and the emotions they evoke in individuals. By analyzing the origins of clown phobia and the multifaceted nature of the clown as a persona, we can gain insight into the complex psychology behind this phenomenon.

Clown Phobia Origins

To understand the origins of clown phobia, it is essential to explore the historical and psychological factors that contribute to this fear. The fear of clowns, known as coulrophobia, has been present for centuries. It is believed that the exaggerated features and unpredictable behavior of clowns evoke feelings of unease and uncertainty in individuals. Some possible factors that contribute to clown phobia include:

  • Traumatic experiences: Negative encounters or traumatic events involving clowns can lead to the development of a phobia.
  • Cultural influences: Depictions of evil or sinister clowns in popular culture, such as Stephen King’s "It," have contributed to the association between clowns and fear.
  • Psychological predispositions: Individuals with high levels of anxiety or a predisposition towards fear may be more susceptible to developing clown phobia.

In terms of treatment for clown phobia, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) has shown promising results in helping individuals overcome their fears. This therapy focuses on challenging negative thoughts and gradually exposing patients to their fears in a controlled setting. Additionally, incorporating positive associations with clowns through exposure therapy can contribute to desensitization and reduced anxiety responses.

Clown as Persona

One of the key aspects of the clown persona is its ability to engage and entertain audiences through a combination of exaggerated physical movements, slapstick humor, and witty banter. Clowns have long been a staple in popular culture, with their colorful costumes and exaggerated features capturing the attention of both children and adults. They often serve as comedic relief in various forms of entertainment, such as circuses, movies, and television shows. The clown persona can evoke a wide range of emotions from the audience, including laughter, joy, surprise, and even fear. Their ability to elicit emotional responses is enhanced by their unique appearance and behavior. The following table illustrates some common elements associated with clown personas:

The symbolism behind clowns in popular culture extends beyond mere entertainment value. These personas often represent freedom from societal norms and expectations. They embody a sense of playfulness and spontaneity that can be refreshing for audiences. However, it is important to acknowledge that not all interpretations of clowns are positive; some individuals may associate them with fear or discomfort due to factors such as uncanny appearances or negative portrayals in horror films. Overall, whether loved or feared, clowns continue to hold a significant place within our cultural landscape.

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The Connection Between Clowns and Childhood

Considering the connection between clowns and childhood, it is evident that these whimsical figures often evoke nostalgia and a sense of innocence in individuals. The innocence of clowns is rooted in their ability to transport people back to a time when life was simpler and carefree. Clowns are often associated with joy, laughter, and playfulness, which are all qualities commonly found in children. They embody the spirit of innocence through their exaggerated features, colorful costumes, and comedic performances.

However, it is important to note that not everyone sees clowns as innocent or harmless figures. In fact, there is a significant portion of the population who experience fear or anxiety when encountering clowns. This fear of clowns, known as coulrophobia, can be traced back to various factors such as negative portrayals in popular culture or personal experiences that have created an association between clowns and discomfort.

The fear of clowns can be further explored by considering the following aspects:

Cultural influences: Different cultures have varying perceptions of clowns. For instance, in Western societies, clowns are typically seen as entertainers at children’s parties or circuses. However, in some cultures such as Native American tribes or ancient Greek mythology, clown-like figures may represent tricksters or bringers of chaos.

Uncanny Valley effect: Some researchers argue that the fear associated with clowns stems from their appearance falling into what is known as the "uncanny valley." This refers to objects or beings that resemble humans but possess subtle deviations from normal human characteristics which can trigger feelings of unease or revulsion.

Psychological theories: Several psychological theories attempt to explain why some individuals find clowns frightening. These include Freudian concepts like the uncanny and repressed fears manifesting through projection onto clown-like figures.

The Societal Impact of Clowns

The connection between clowns and childhood has been explored extensively, but it is also important to consider the societal impact of clowns. Societal perception of clowns can vary widely depending on cultural influences and individual experiences. Clowns have long been associated with joy, laughter, and entertainment, but they can also evoke negative emotions such as fear and discomfort in some individuals.

To understand the societal impact of clowns, it is helpful to examine the cultural influence on their perception. Different cultures may have varying beliefs and traditions that shape how clowns are perceived within a society. For example, in Western culture, clowns are often seen as playful figures that bring laughter and amusement. However, in other cultures, such as certain African or Native American tribes, clown-like characters may be associated with sacred rituals or serve as spiritual intermediaries.

To further illustrate the diversity of societal perceptions towards clowns across different cultures and time periods, a table is provided below:

This table demonstrates how societal perceptions can differ based on cultural factors. The diverse interpretations of clowns highlight their versatility as symbols that can be viewed through various lenses.

The Future of Clown Symbolism

Exploring the future implications of clown symbolism involves examining potential shifts in cultural perceptions and evolving societal attitudes towards these comedic figures. With the changing landscape of popular culture, it is crucial to analyze how clown performances and their underlying symbolism may evolve in the coming years.

To gain a comprehensive understanding of the future of clown symbolism, it is necessary to consider several key aspects:

Cultural Reinterpretation:

  • As societies progress and become more diverse, there may be a reinterpretation of clown symbolism to reflect new cultural norms and values.
  • Clowns may be reimagined as representatives of inclusivity, humor, or social commentary.

Technological Advancements:

  • The integration of technology into performances could lead to innovative ways for clowns to engage with audiences.
  • Virtual reality or augmented reality experiences might enhance the immersive nature of clown performances.

Shifting Societal Attitudes:

  • Clown symbolism has historically been associated with fear or discomfort for some individuals due to negative portrayals in popular media.
  • However, as societal attitudes change and awareness grows regarding mental health issues, there may be an increased emphasis on clowns promoting positivity, healing, and well-being.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the history of clown makeup and costumes.

The history of clown costumes encompasses a range of influences and cultural traditions. Clown makeup, with its exaggerated features and vibrant colors, has long been associated with the transformation of the performer into a character that is both humorous and entertaining. The significance of clown makeup lies in its ability to create a visual spectacle that captures the attention and imagination of audiences. Over time, clown costumes have evolved to reflect different styles and interpretations, but they continue to be an integral part of the clowning tradition.

How Do Clowns Use Physical Comedy to Entertain?

The role of physicality in clown performances is essential to their comedic entertainment. Clowns utilize physical comedy techniques, such as exaggerated movements, facial expressions, and gestures, to elicit laughter from the audience. They also employ props and slapstick humor to enhance their comedic routines. The use of props allows clowns to engage in visual gags and create unexpected situations that generate amusement. Slapstick comedy involving physical actions like falls, collisions, and practical jokes further adds to the humorous elements of clown performances.

Are There Different Types of Clowns in Different Cultures?

Different cultural interpretations of clowns have led to the evolution of various clowning styles. These variations in clowning can be attributed to cultural norms, traditions, and historical contexts. Different cultures may have distinct types of clowns that serve specific purposes or convey specific messages. The evolution of clowning styles across cultures reflects the diverse ways in which societies perceive and interpret humor, entertainment, and performance. Understanding these cultural nuances is crucial for a comprehensive analysis of the symbolism behind clowns and what they represent.

What Are Some Famous Examples of Clowns in Literature and Art?

Famous examples of clowns in literature and art can be found throughout history. In literature, one notable example is the character of Pierrot in French pantomime and commedia dell’arte. Pierrot often symbolizes innocence, love, and melancholy. Another famous clown figure is the character of Pagliacci from the Italian opera of the same name. In art, the painting "The Laughing Clown" by Georges Rouault portrays a clown with distorted features, representing human suffering and existential angst. These examples demonstrate how clowns have been used to convey deeper symbolic meanings in both literature and art.

How Do Clowns Affect People’s Emotions and Psychology?

The effects of clowns on people’s emotions and psychology have been widely studied. Clowns, often associated with both fear and laughter, can elicit a range of emotional responses in individuals. Fear of clowns, known as coulrophobia, is a well-documented phenomenon that may stem from their exaggerated features or unpredictable behavior. However, clowns also possess the ability to create laughter and joy through humor and physical comedy. The impact of clowns on individuals’ emotions and psychology is complex and varies from person to person.

In conclusion, the symbolism behind clowns is a complex and multifaceted subject. Through our analysis of their historical origins, evolution, cultural significance, dark side, mythology and folklore connections, psychological interpretations, connection to childhood, societal impact, and future prospects, we have gained a comprehensive understanding of these enigmatic figures.

Clowns can be seen as both entertainers and mirrors of society. Their exaggerated features and playful antics serve as a reflection of the human condition. However, beneath their colorful facade lies a darker side that taps into our deepest fears and anxieties.

The role of clowns in mythology and folklore further illustrates their symbolic power. From tricksters to supernatural beings, they embody the liminal space between laughter and fear.

Psychologically speaking, clowns can be interpreted as representations of the unconscious mind. They tap into our primal instincts and provoke emotional responses that are often unsettling yet captivating at the same time.

Furthermore, clowns hold a special place in our collective memory as they are deeply intertwined with childhood experiences. Whether it’s through birthday parties or circus performances, clowns leave an indelible mark on our early years.

From a societal perspective, clowns have had both positive and negative impacts. While they bring joy and laughter to many people’s lives, there have been instances where their presence has incited fear or even violence.

Looking ahead to the future of clown symbolism, it is difficult to predict how their significance will evolve. However, one thing is certain – clowns will continue to captivate audiences with their fascinating blend of humor and darkness.

In conclusion: Clowns are not just silly performers; they represent something much deeper within ourselves. They serve as mirrors that reflect our innermost fears and desires while simultaneously entertaining us with their playful antics. Whether we find them amusing or terrifying depends on how willing we are to confront the complexities of human nature. So next time you see a clown with his painted smile and oversized shoes, remember that there is more to him than meets the eye.

clown and ghost meaning

Grace Mitchell, aged 55, is a seasoned spiritual guide with over 30 years of experience in the exploration of spiritual symbolism. Her deep insights aim to illuminate the connection between universal symbols and personal spiritual growth. Grace believes in the power of symbolism to deepen our understanding of ourselves and the cosmos. Her writings offer a thoughtful journey through the fascinating world of spiritual signs and meanings.

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clown and ghost meaning

If you followed the Dear David saga on Twitter , or you've seen any paranormal-themed movie, then the idea of being haunted probably terrifies you and intrigues you at the same time. Despite the scare factor, many people are curious about what it's like to encounter the supernatural. The creepiest signs you're being haunted include unexplained sights, sounds, temperature changes, objects moving, unexplained physical injuries, and more. In short, if your ghost isn't friendly, it sounds pretty unnerving, especially if you live alone.

Maybe the haunting is fun at first, like in the movie Poltergeist when the kitchen chairs start rearranging themselves on their own. However, it stops being funny after Carol Anne gets sucked into the TV set . What's more, this movie franchise is rumored to have been cursed with a number of its actors meeting an early demise IRL. Because I've had my own haunting experiences , I'm a believer, and I'm pretty content to shut myself off from the ghost world.

"Sometimes, ghostly hauntings are so intense they make believers out of non-believers. Sometimes, ghosts are so faint that even the most adept and in-tune psychic can't pick up on their energy waves," Kitty Fields, a paranormal writer, explained on Exemplore. So, whether you feel it or not, there's probably a ghost hanging around your pad. But if you fear that ghost is haunting you, be on the lookout for these creepy signs.

Objects Moving On Their Own

OK, a lot of signs of a haunting can be easily explained by non-believers who will point out that other things could be causing your strange experiences. However, unless someone is playing a really scary joke on you, objects in your house aren't going to move on their own . "I’ve seen books thrown through the air by an invisible force. I’ve watched a grown man with a $2,500 camera in his hand drop the camera to the ground because something was strangling him," ghost hunter Greg Newkirk told Reader's Digest . If this happens to you, it's time to call in some ghostbusters ASAP.

Strange Sights

This one has totally happened to me. A few years ago, I woke up in the middle of the night (two nights in a row) to my dog barking at a shadowy figure hovering in my bedroom. According to Fields, " shadows in your peripheral vision , flickering lights and electronics, objects seeming to switch places/positions when your back is turned, figures in the dark, etc." are clear signs you might have a haunting on your hands.

Feelings Of Being Watched

When you're being watched by someone IRL, you might experience an intense feeling that causes you to look around to see who has you in their sights. If this starts happening to you on the regular when you're alone, it's worth investigating the history of your home to see if anything creepy has happened there in the past. When you feel like you're not alone in your home, "Cold chills move throughout the room," Newkirk noted, "and even just the feeling of being watched . Sometimes whispers, or being awoken in the middle of the night because of the feeling that somebody’s standing there."

Phantom Mania

This one is not only the creepiest sign you might have a haunting on your hands, it also means your ghost isn't at all friendly. According to Fields, phantom mania refers to feeling like someone is holding your down in your sleep and waking up with unexplained bites, scratches, or bruises on your body. If this happens to you, get out ASAP.

Persistent Electrical Problems

If your ghost wants to make its presence known , it might decide to mess with your electricity. On her website, author and paranormal investigator Joni Mayan explained that disruption to your electronics could be a ghost's way of powering itself. However, she added that sometimes actual electrical problems can be identified and allow investigators to debunk a haunting. So, before you call the ghostbusters, you might want to consult an electrician first.

Unexplained Sounds

According to Joel A. Sutherland, author of Haunted Canada, Volume 5 , strange sounds are the most commonly reported sign of haunting, Yahoo News Canada noted. While a lot of unexplained sounds can be attributed to things other than the supernatural, that's not always the case. "People often report hearing voices as well, in other rooms. Sometimes it sounds like one person speaking or moaning or crying, other times people report hearing what seems to be a conversation — perhaps a few spirits. When they run into the room, there’s nobody there."

Sutherland told Yahoo News that another sign people often report when they suspect a haunting is unexplained cold spots in their home. While he said there is usually a perfectly reasonable explanation for this, when cold spots accompany several of the above factors, it's possible that a haunting is the culprit. If you experience any, or several, of these creepy signs, and you can eliminate medical reasons, electrical problems, etc., you can call in a paranormal investigator to see if you actually are being haunted. If your ghost turns out to be a clown, grab whatever you can carry and get the hell out of there. Because, IMO, there's nothing creepier than a supernatural clown holding you down at night.

clown and ghost meaning

King Halloween

15 Halloween Symbols Explained

By: Author Rex Knight

Posted on Last updated: July 27, 2023

With Halloween coming, store shelves will soon be covered in festive and colorful holiday decorations. Year after year we are surrounded by the same Halloween symbols and may even use our favorites for decorating. Why not learn a little bit about your favorite symbols this year?  

Halloween practices and traditions can change from place to place and generation to generation, but often the symbols stay the same. Over time cultures may forget what exactly each symbol represents and new meanings can slowly take shape. Below is a list of modern day Halloween symbols that have been around for generations and some information about what they have come to symbolize in America.  

Halloween Symbols

Many Halloween symbols will fall into one of three major categories:

  • They can be symbols of The Season and the Harvest. Examples of this kind of Halloween symbol are corn husks, candy corns and jack-o-lanterns.
  • Many Halloween symbols represent Death and Mortality. Some examples of these are skeletons, skulls, ghosts and graveyards.
  • The third set of Halloween symbols represents Misfortune or Evil. Examples include witches, bats, black cats and clowns.

• Jack-o-Lantern Symbol  

The pumpkin symbol began long ago in Ireland when the Celts would carve turnips on All Hallow’s Eve. They would place an ember inside the turnip to keep evil spirits at bay.

There were no pumpkins in Ireland, so the pumpkin symbol didn’t become popular until the Irish migrated to America during the potato famine. See our History of Halloween page for more information. At this point the Irish switched from turnips to pumpkins.

Jack-o-lantern symbol

The face of the jack-o-lantern:  Now you know why the pumpkin is hollowed out and filled with fire, but why do we carve a face on it?

The reason for the face centers around the old Irish story of Stingy Jack . According to the tale, Stingy Jack lived as a drunk Irishman who played tricks on people. During his life, Jack managed to make both God and the Devil angry, so when he died neither heaven nor hell would let him in. He was forced to roam the earth with only a turnip jack-o-lantern to light his way.  

Townspeople began placing jack-o-lanterns around their homes to keep Stingy Jack from coming to their door. Check out our 25 Halloween traditions page for more details about celebrating Halloween.

• Witch Symbols  

Witch symbols are still some of the most traditional Halloween images around. The iconic silhouette of a witch riding through a full moon is one of the more popular witch images used on Halloween.

Why is the witch associated with Halloween? In Celtic culture witches were supernatural female healers. This is why Witch is derived from Wicca, which means “wise one”.

Halloween Witch Symbols

Once other religions began combining with the Celtic festival of Samhain, anything supernatural in nature became feared and avoided, including witches. Healing, which was once seen as helpful, was now seen by the church as pagan worship and evil magic.

Christianity considered witchcraft “detestable to the Lord.” For all these reasons, witches became supernatural symbols of sorcery and evil.  

• Halloween Bat

Bat Halloween symbols can be found all over the background of holiday decorations. The Halloween bat dates all the way back to the roots of Halloween, during the festivals of Samhain.

The sacred bonfires burned at Samhian would attract many bugs and flying insects which caused bats to gather at each festival. Since bats are nocturnal and eat insects, they became closely linked to the holiday.

Halloween symbols flying bats

The Halloween bat is also associated with vampires. When you see a Halloween bat, it’s extra spooky because you never know wether it will transform into an undead vampire.

Another factor that gives bats the edge as a Halloween symbol is that there are three species of real life vampire bats that feed solely on blood. The vampire bat can quietly drink the blood of animals or even a person for up to half an hour at a time. Yuck!

• Ghost Symbol

Ghosts have always been a symbol of Halloween. Even during the festival of Samhain, the Celtic people believed ghosts were nearby because the veil between the living and dead was at its thinnest.

Halloween symbols ghosts images

It’s believed that the spirits of the dead can walk among the living on Halloween night , making the ghost symbol fitting for this spooky holiday. It’s also thought that ghosts will visit their past loved ones and old homes on Halloween night.

• Halloween Cat  

Of all the Halloween symbols, the black cat has definitely had to pay a price and earn their place in the festivities. Beginning at the time of Samhain, black cat symbolism led to many cats being burned alive.

Druids believed that evil humans could turn themselves into cats, which led the druids to lock the cats in cages and throw them into the sacred fires. Being a Halloween cat during the festival of Samhain was nothing to celebrate.

 Three Black Cat Symbolism Images

Later on in history, many believed that witches could turn into cats and black cats became the symbol for a witch’s familiar. Once again during the Witch Trials cats were killed along with the accused witches for being evil.

Interestingly enough, black cat symbolism is very different in many other countries where they are seen as good luck.

• Skeleton Halloween Symbols  

Skeletons are striking Halloween symbols because they are a stark reminder of death. Skeletons remind us that Halloween has always been a holiday about the dead.

For some, it’s believed that on Halloween night the spirits of the dead can walk the earth.  

Skeleton Halloween Symbols

Another reason skeletons are great Halloween symbols is because the visual of skeleton costumes, with white bones on a black background, looks good on TV and in movies.

Skeletons have become such popular Halloween symbols that you can now get fun skeleton dogs, birds, cats, and other animals as decorations.

• Skull Symbol  

Skulls as Halloween symbols can be found together or separate from skeletons. The skull symbol can mean death or danger. Like the skeleton, it is a reminder of human mortality and the short time we have to live.

Skulls are fun Halloween symbols, but they also remind us that we will eventually end up in the earth alone.

Skull Symbol Graphic three skulls

• Mexican Skull  

The Mexican skull is often used during El Dia De Los Muertos, aka The Day of The Dead, holiday celebrations. It can also be referred to as a sugar skull or calavera in Spanish. The Mexican skull has very different imagery than a traditional skull because it is richly decorated and colorful.

A Mexican skull created as an offering for a loved one can also be deeply personal and specific to the deceased. Unlike the traditional Halloween skull, a Mexican skull is a symbol of remembrance, sadness, mourning and celebration all at once.

• Trick or Treating

It was believed that on Halloween the veil between the living and the dead is at it’s thinnest. This allowed the dead to walk the earth on Halloween night.

This meant that spirits of dead loved ones would return to their homes on Halloween night to visit. Living relatives would leave out food as snacks and even put out chairs for loved ones to rest in.

Trick-or-treating symbolism

Eventually this led to the hungry and poor dressing up as spirits and going door to door for offerings.

Later traditions like guising, mumming and souling led to our modern day version of trick or treating. You can read more about these on our Halloween traditions page .

• Scarecrow Halloween Symbols  

Scarecrows can be used for both Halloween and fall decorations in modern day culture. Scarecrows are more than just Halloween symbols, they are a symbol of the fall season and the harvest.

Long after all the witches, bats and ghosts have been put into storage, the scarecrow remains. The scarecrow will stay all the way through Thanksgiving, symbolizing the fall harvest and the autumn feast.

Scarecrow Halloween Symbolism Imagery

However, don’t think this means the scarecrow hasn’t earned its place as a symbol of Halloween. They were used by many cultures in the fields, sometimes with animal skulls as heads. During harvesting rituals the scarecrows would be burned in celebration and the ashes returned to the soil.

Scarecrows are Halloween symbols because no matter what culture and what harvest, their underlying purpose is to instill fear. They always have one purpose, to frighten away intruders and they do it well. Modern day scarecrows have starred in TV shows, comics and movies as terrifying creatures that provoke a sense of dread.

• Owl Symbolism  

Owls have been associated with Halloween symbols since the beginning of Halloween, at the festivals of Samhain. The druids would light huge sacred bonfires which would attract many bugs, flying insects, bats and owls.

The owls and bats came for the easy food supplied by the insects. Owls have long been associated with Halloween and magic, just ask Hedwig on Harry Potter.  

Owl Symbolism Images

In the Middle Ages, owl symbolism took a dark turn as the owl became associated with witches. People began to believe that witches could turn into owls, and the sharp call of the Screech Owl made them think of witches flying overhead. The spooky hooting sounds made by owls are known symbols for an approaching witch.

Owl symbolism has also labeled these creatures as indicators of nearby death or hauntings.  

There are so many legends and superstitions about owls, but not all owl symbolism is bad. Owls are also known to be wise, foretell good fortune, provide guidance, and some cultures even consider them sacred. Check out our Halloween Superstitions page for more interesting notes about the owl.

• Blood Symbolism  

In our current culture blood has become a significant part of Halloween culture. Blood is often a center piece in Halloween movies, costumes and even decorations. Window clings with bloody hands and blood drippings have become widely available and popularized.

A classic reference to blood in Halloween culture is the vampire with blood dripping down the side of his mouth. Blood symbolism in Halloween is very similar to other uses of blood symbolism.

Blood Symbolism Imagery

Like many Halloween symbols, blood represents life and mortality. It’s a reminder that we are human and can experience pain and be killed. Showing the loss of blood or blood draining from a body is a direct reference to mortality and the fear of dying.

Along with orange and black, red is often used in popular decorations to symbolize the color of blood when decorating for Halloween.

• Spider Symbolism  

Spider symbolism is extensive in folklore and mythology with spiders being seen as weavers of fate and oracles of death. This will focus on Halloween spider symbolism because spiders and their webs are consistently found woven throughout this spooky holiday.

Historically, spider symbolism took a dark turn at the time of the Witch Hunts. Like other nocturnal creatures, spiders were seen as an evil companion of witches and they became a bad omen.

Spider Symbolism Images

Another reason spiders are seen as creepy, crawly creatures is because of where they like to hang out. Spiders can often be found in dark abandoned places like spooky houses, graveyards, creepy caves and dark dungeons. This makes it easy to associate spiders with abandoned and spooky places.

Add to all this the fact that some spiders are so deadly they can kill humans, and it’s no wonder spiders are looked at as scary creatures of the night.

• Halloween Clowns  

The clown has been around for a long time, but it’s only lately that the dark and scary clown has become popular. Historically, in Rome, China, Europe and elsewhere clowns were often the only ones who could make fun of kings and emperors.

They were tricksters and jokesters with an impish spirit hidden behind a smiling face of make-up. Clowns were friendly but also symbolized mischief and unpredictability while wearing a joyful mask.

Halloween Symbols Clowns Multiple Images

The modern clown has taken a much darker turn, with the scary version of clown make-up becoming more dominant. In fact, it’s much easier to think of examples of dark scary carnival clowns than it is to come up with fun loving cute clowns.

Some movies and shows with famous evil clowns are Stephen King’s IT, Killer Klowns From Outer Space, American Horror Story, the Devil’s Rejects, and even that creepy clown toy in the movie Krampus.

Add to this the real life creepy clown sightings in 2016 and it’s safe to say that the Halloween clown has become a dark symbol of fear for Halloween. The clown has always been a symbol of the unknown, but now it represents dread and uncertainty too.

• Corn Husks  

Halloween Corn Husks Symbols

Corn husk are Halloween symbols that go all the way back to the times of Samhain when agriculture was a big part of the season. In modern times, corn husk decorations can stick around all the way through Thanksgiving, like the scarecrow.

This is because corn husks symbolize the end of harvest and the change of seasons. They can represent a successful harvest, autumn’s end and the start of winter.  

• Candy Corn  

You are probably wondering “What does candy corn symbolize?” It hasn’t been around since the festival of Samhain and it’s not an ancient ritual.

True, but candy corn has still earned some respect from Halloween fans. It has only been around since the late 1800’s, but candy corn has become a symbol of the changing seasons. It’s a symbol of autumn, a reminder of the changing leaf colors and that refreshing, cool crisp air. Candy corns also symbolize the impending arrival of Halloween!

Candy Corn Symbolism Candies with bucket, ghost and pumpkin

Many of the Halloween symbols listed above are directly connected to ancient Halloween customs. Be sure to check out our Halloween traditions page if you are interested in learning more.

Also go to our Fun Facts about Halloween page for interesting details about Halloween.

• If you enjoy trivia be sure to check out our Halloween Trivia page .

Looking for Halloween jokes?

• We have a great selection go to our Halloween Jokes page and choose which category of jokes to start with.

ARTS & CULTURE

The history and psychology of clowns being scary.

You aren’t alone in your fear of makeup-clad entertainers; people have been frightened by clowns for centuries

Linda Rodriguez McRobbie

Linda Rodriguez McRobbie

Still from trailer

There’s a word— albeit one not recognized by the Oxford English Dictionary or any psychology manual— for the excessive fear of clowns: Coulrophobia .

Not a lot of people actually suffer from a debilitating phobia of clowns; a lot more people, however, just don’t like them. Do a Google search for “I hate clowns” and the first hit is ihateclowns.com , a forum for clown-haters that also offers vanity @ihateclowns.com emails. One “I Hate Clowns” Facebook page has just under 480,000 likes. Some circuses have held workshops to help visitors get over their fear of clowns by letting them watch performers transform into their clown persona. In Sarasota, Florida, in 2006, communal loathing for clowns took a criminal turn when dozens of fiberglass clown statues—part of a public art exhibition called "Clowning Around Town" and a nod to the city’s history as a winter haven for traveling circuses— were defaced , their limbs broken, heads lopped off, spray-painted; two were abducted and we can only guess at their sad fates.

Even the people who are supposed to like clowns—children—supposedly don’t. In 2008, a widely reported University of Sheffield, England, survey of 250 children between the ages of four and 16 found that most of the children disliked and even feared images of clowns. The BBC’s report on the study featured a child psychologist who broadly declared, “Very few children like clowns. They are unfamiliar and come from a different era. They don't look funny, they just look odd.” 

But most clowns aren’t trying to be odd. They’re trying to be silly and sweet, fun personified. So the question is, when did the clown, supposedly a jolly figure of innocuous, kid-friendly entertainment, become so weighed down by fear and sadness? When did clowns become so dark?

Maybe they always have been.

Clowns, as pranksters, jesters, jokers, harlequins, and mythologized tricksters have been around for ages. They appear in most cultures—Pygmy clowns made Egyptian pharaohs laugh in 2500 BCE; in ancient imperial China, a court clown called YuSze was, according to the lore, the only guy who could poke holes in Emperor Qin Shih Huang’s plan to paint the Great Wall of China; Hopi Native Americans had a tradition of clown-like characters who interrupted serious dance rituals with ludicrous antics. Ancient Rome’s clown was a stock fool called the stupidus ; the court jesters of medieval Europe were a sanctioned way for people under the feudal thumb to laugh at the guys in charge; and well into the 18th and 19th century, the prevailing clown figure of Western Europe and Britain was the pantomime clown, who was a sort of bumbling buffoon.

But clowns have always had a dark side, says David Kiser, director of talent for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. After all, these were characters who reflected a funhouse mirror back on society; academics note that their comedy was often derived from their voracious appetites for food, sex, and drink, and their manic behavior. “So in one way, the clown has always been an impish spirit… as he’s kind of grown up, he’s always been about fun, but part of that fun has been a bit of mischief,” says Kiser.

“Mischief” is one thing; homicidal urges is certainly another. What’s changed about clowns is how that darkness is manifest, argued Andrew McConnell Stott, Dean of Undergraduate Education and an English professor at the University of Buffalo, SUNY.

Stott is the author of several articles on scary clowns and comedy, as well as The Pantomime Life of Joseph Grimaldi , a much-lauded 2009 biography of the famous comic pantomime player on the Regency London stage. Grimaldi was the first recognizable ancestor of the modern clown, sort of the Homo erectus of clown evolution. He’s the reason why clowns are still sometimes called “Joeys”; though his clowning was of a theatrical and not circus tradition, Grimaldi is so identified with modern clowns that a church in east London has conducted a Sunday service in his honor every year since 1959, with congregants all dressed in full clown regalia.

In his day, he was hugely visible: It was claimed that a full eighth of London’s population had seen Grimaldi on stage. Grimaldi made the clown the leading character of the pantomime, changing the way he looked and acted. Before him, a clown may have worn make-up, but it was usually just a bit of rouge on the cheeks to heighten the sense of them being florid, funny drunks or rustic yokels. Grimaldi, however, suited up in bizarre, colorful costumes, stark white face paint punctuated by spots of bright red on his cheeks and topped with a blue mohawk. He was a master of physical comedy—he leapt in the air, stood on his head, fought himself in hilarious fisticuffs that had audiences rolling in the aisles—as well as of satire lampooning the absurd fashions of the day, comic impressions, and ribald songs.

But because Grimaldi was such a star, the character he’d invented became closely associated with him. And Grimaldi’s real life was anything but comedy—he’d grown up with a tyrant of a stage father; he was prone to bouts of depression; his first wife died during childbirth; his son was an alcoholic clown who’d drank himself to death by age 31; and Grimaldi’s physical gyrations, the leaps and tumbles and violent slapstick that had made him famous, left him in constant pain and prematurely disabled. As Grimaldi himself joked, “I am GRIM ALL DAY, but I make you laugh at night.” That Grimaldi could make a joke about it highlights how well known his tragic real life was to his audiences.

Enter the young Charles Dickens. After Grimaldi died penniless and an alcoholic in 1837 (the coroner’s verdict: “Died by the visitation of God”), Dickens was charged with editing Grimaldi’s memoirs. Dickens had already hit upon the dissipated, drunken clown theme in his 1836 The Pickwick Papers . In the serialized novel, he describes an off-duty clown—reportedly inspired by Grimaldi’s son—whose inebriation and ghastly, wasted body contrasted with his white face paint and clown costume. Unsurprisingly, Dickens’ version of Grimadli’s life was, well, Dickensian, and, Stott says, imposed a “strict economy”: For every laugh he wrought from his audiences, Grimaldi suffered commensurate pain. 

Stott credits Dickens with watering the seeds in popular imagination of the scary clown—he’d even go so far as to say Dickens invented the scary clown—by creating a figure who is literally destroying himself to make his audiences laugh. What Dickens did was to make it difficult to look at a clown without wondering what was going on underneath the make-up: Says Stott, “It becomes impossible to disassociate the character from the actor.” That Dickens’s version of Grimaldi’s memoirs was massively popular meant that this perception, of something dark and troubled masked by humor, would stick.

Meanwhile, on the heels of Grimaldi’s fame in Britain, the major clown figure on the Continent was Jean-Gaspard Deburau’s Pierrot, a clown with white face paint punctuated by red lips and black eyebrows whose silent gesticulations delighted French audiences. Deburau was as well known on the streets of Paris as Grimaldi was in London, recognized even without his make-up. But where Grimaldi was tragic, Deburau was sinister: In 1836, Deburau killed a boy with a blow from his walking stick after the youth shouted insults at him on the street (he was ultimately acquitted of the murder). So the two biggest clowns of the early modern clowning era were troubled men underneath that face-paint.

After Grimaldi and Deburau’s heyday, pantomime and theatrical traditions changed; clowning largely left the theater for the relatively new arena of the circus. The circus got its start in the mid-1760s with British entrepreneur Philip Astley’s equestrian shows, exhibitions of “feats of horsemanship” in a circular arena. These trick riding shows soon began attracting other performers; along with the jugglers, trapeze artists, and acrobats, came clowns. By the mid-19th century, clowns had become a sort of “hybrid Grimaldian personality [that] fit in much more with the sort of general, overall less-nuanced style of clowning in the big top,” explains Stott.

clown and ghost meaning

Clowns were comic relief from the thrills and chills of the daring circus acts, an anarchic presence that complimented the precision of the acrobats or horse riders. At the same time, their humor necessarily became broader—the clowns had more space to fill, so their movements and actions needed to be more obvious. But clowning was still very much tinged with dark hilarity: French literary critic Edmond de Goncourt, writing in 1876, says, “[T]he clown’s art is now rather terrifying and full of anxiety and apprehension, their suicidal feats, their monstrous gesticulations and frenzied mimicry reminding one of the courtyard of a lunatic asylum.” Then there’s the 1892 Italian opera,  Pagliacci  ( Clowns ), in which the cuckolded main character, an actor of the Grimaldian clown mold, murders his cheating wife on stage during a performance. Clowns were unsettling—and a great source for drama.

England exported the circus and its clowns to America, where the genre blossomed; in late 19th century America, the circus went from a one-ring horse act to a three-ring extravaganza that travelled the country on the railways. Venues and humor changed, but images of troubled, sad, tragic clowns remained—Emmett Kelly, for example, was the most famous of the American “hobo” clowns, the sad-faced men with five o’clock shadows and tattered clothes who never smiled, but who were nonetheless hilarious. Kelly’s “Weary Willie” was born of actual tragedy: The break-up of his marriage and America’s sinking financial situation in the 1930s.

Clowns had a sort of heyday in America with the television age and children’s entertainers like Clarabell the Clown, Howdy Doody’s silent partner, and Bozo the Clown. Bozo, by the mid-1960s, was the beloved host of a hugely popular, internationally syndicated children’s show – there was a 10-year wait for tickets to his show. In 1963, McDonald’s brought out Ronald McDonald, the Hamburger-Happy Clown, who’s been a brand ambassador ever since (although heavy is the head that wears the red wig – in 2011, health activists claimed that he, like Joe Camel did for smoking, was promoting an unhealthy lifestyle for children; McDonald’s didn’t ditch Ronald, but he has been seen playing a lot more soccer).

But this heyday also heralded a real change in what a clown was. Before the early 20th century, there was little expectation that clowns had to be an entirely unadulterated symbol of fun, frivolity, and happiness; pantomime clowns, for example, were characters who had more adult-oriented story lines. But clowns were now almost solely children’s entertainment. Once their made-up persona became more associated with children, and therefore an expectation of innocence, it made whatever the make-up might conceal all the more frightening—creating a tremendous mine for artists, filmmakers, writers and creators of popular culture to gleefully exploit to terrifying effect. Says Stott, “Where there is mystery, it’s supposed there must be evil, so we think, ‘What are you hiding?’”

Most clowns aren’t hiding anything, except maybe a bunch of fake flowers or a balloon animal. But again, just as in Grimaldi and Deburau’s day, it was what a real-life clown was concealing that tipped the public perception of clowns. Because this time, rather than a tragic or even troubled figure under the slap and motley, there was something much darker lurking.

Even as Bozo was cavorting on sets across America, a more sinister clown was plying his craft across the Midwest. John Wayne Gacy’s public face was a friendly, hard-working guy; he was also a registered clown who entertained at community events under the name Pogo. But between 1972 and 1978, he sexually assaulted and killed more than 35 young men in the Chicago area. “You know… clowns can get away with murder,” he told investigating officers, before his arrest.

Gacy didn’t get away with it—he was found guilty of 33 counts of murder and was executed in 1994. But he’d become identified as the “Killer Clown,” a handy sobriquet for newspaper reports that hinged on the unexpectedness of his killing. And bizarrely, Gacy seemed to revel in his clown persona: While in prison, he began painting; many of his paintings were of clowns, some self-portraits of him as Pogo. What was particularly terrifying was that Gacy, a man who’d already been convicted of a sexual assault on a teenage boy in 1968, was given access to children in his guise as an innocuous clown. This fueled America’s already growing fears of “stranger danger” and sexual predation on children, and made clowns a real object of suspicion. 

After a real life killer clown shocked America, representations of clowns took a decidedly terrifying turn. Before, films like Cecil B. DeMille’s 1952 Oscar-winning  The Greatest Show on Earth  could toy with the notion of the clown with a tragic past—Jimmy Stewart played Buttons, a circus clown who never removed his make-up and who is later revealed to be a doctor on the lam after “mercy killing” his wife—but now, clowns were really scary.

In 1982,  Poltergeist  relied on transforming familiar banality—the Californian suburb, a piece of fried chicken, the television—into real terror; but the big moment was when the little boy’s clown doll comes to life and tries to drag him under the bed. In 1986, Stephen King wrote  It , in which a terrifying demon attacks children in the guise of Pennywise the Clown; in 1990, the book was made into a TV mini-series. In 1988, B-movie hit  Killer Klowns from Outer Space  featured alien clowns harboring sharp-toothed grins and murderous intentions. The next year saw  Clownhouse , a cult horror film about escaped mental patients masquerading as circus clowns who terrorize a rural town. Between the late 1980s and now – when the  Saw  franchise’s mascot is a creepy clown-faced puppet -- dozens of films featuring vicious clowns appeared in movie theatres (or, more often, went straight to video), making the clown as reliable a boogeyman as Freddy Kreuger.

Kiser, Ringling’s talent spotter and a former clown himself, acknowledged the damage that scary clown images have done to clowning, though he was inclined to downplay the effect. “It’s like, ‘Oh man, we’re going to have to work hard to overcome that one,’” he says.

But anecdotally at least, negative images of clowns are harming clowning as a profession. Though the Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t keep track of professional clowns specifically (they’re lumped in with comedians, magicians, and other miscellaneous performers), in the mid-2000s, articles began popping up in newspapers across the country lamenting the decline of attendees at clown conventions or at clowning workshop courses. Stott believes that the clown has been “evacuated as a figure of fun” (notably, Stott is personally uncomfortable with clowns and says he finds them “strange”); psychologists suggest that negative clown images are replacing positive clown images.

“You don’t really see clowns in those kinds of safe, fun contexts anymore. You see them in movies and they’re scary,” says Dr. Martin Antony, a professor of psychology at Ryerson University in Toronto and author of the  Anti-Anxiety Work Book . “Kids are not exposed in that kind of safe fun context as much as they used to be and the images in the media, the negative images, are still there.” 

That’s creating a vicious circle of clown fear: More scary images means diminished opportunities to create good associations with clowns, which creates more fear. More fear gives more credence to scary clown images, and more scary clown images end up in circulation. Of course, it’s difficult to say whether there has been a real rise in the number of people who have clown phobias since Gacy and  It . A phobia is a fear or anxiety that inhibits a person’s life and clown fears rarely rate as phobias, psychologists say, because one simply isn’t confronted by clowns all that often. But clown fear is, Antony says, exacerbated by clowns’ representation in the media. “We also develop fears from what we read and see in the media… There’s certainly lots of examples of nasty clowns in movies that potentially puts feet on that kind of fear,” he says.

From a psychologist’s perspective, a fear of clowns often starts in childhood; there’s even an entry in the psychologists’ bible, the  Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders  or  DSM , for a fear of clowns, although it’s under the umbrella category of a pediatric phobia of costumed characters (sports mascots, Mickey Mouse). “It starts normally in children about the age of two, when they get anxiety about being around strangers, too. At that age, children’s minds are still developing, there’s a little bit of a blend and they’re not always able to separate fantasy from reality,” explains Dr. Brenda Wiederhold, a veteran psychologist who runs a  phobia and anxiety treatment center in San Diego  that uses virtual reality to treat clients.

Most people, she says, grow out of the fear, but not everyone—perhaps as much as 2 percent of the adult population will have a fear of clowns. Adult clown phobics are unsettled by the clown’s face-paint and the inability to read genuine emotion on a clown’s face, as well as the perception that clowns are able to engage in manic behavior, often without consequences.

But really, what a clown fear comes down to, what it’s always come down to, is the person under the make-up. Ringling’s Kiser agreed.

“I think we have all experienced wonderful clowns, but we’ve also all experienced clowns who in their youth or lack of training, they don’t realize it, but they go on the attack,” Kiser says, explaining that they can become too aggressive in trying to make someone laugh. “One of the things that we stress is that you have to know how to judge and respect people’s space.” Clowning, he says, is about communicating, not concealing; good clown make-up is reflective of the individual’s emotions, not a mask to hide behind—making them actually innocent and not scary.

But have bad, sad, troubled clowns done too much damage? There are two different, conflicting visions of the clown’s future.

Stott, for one, sees clowning continuing on its dark path. “I think we’ll find that the kind of dark carnival, scary clown will be the dominant mode, that that figure will continue to persist in many different ways,” he says, pointing to characters like Krusty the Clown on  The Simpsons , who’s jaded but funny, or Heath Ledger’s version of The Joker in the  Batman  reboot, who is a terrifying force of unpredictable anarchy. “In many respects, it’s not an inversion of what we’re used to seeing, it’s just teasing out and amplifying those traits we’ve been seeing for a very long time.” Other writers have suggested that the scary clown as a dependable monster under the bed is almost  “nostalgically fearful,”  already bankrupted by overuse. 

But there’s evidence that, despite the claims of the University of Sheffield study, kids actually  do  like clowns: Some studies have shown that real clowns have a beneficial affect on the health outcomes of sick children. The January 2013 issue of the  Journal of Health Psychology  published an Italian study that found that, in a randomized controlled trial, the presence of a therapy clown reduced pre-operative anxiety in children booked for minor surgery. Another Italian study, carried out in 2008 and published in the December 2011 issue of the  Natural Medicine Journal  found that children hospitalized for respiratory illnesses got better faster after playing with therapeutic clowns.

And Kiser, of course, doesn’t see clowning diminishing in the slightest. But good clowns are always in shortage, and it’s good clowns who keep the art alive. “If the clown is truly a warm and sympathetic and funny heart, inside of a person who is working hard to let that clown out… I think those battles [with clown fears] are so winnable,” he says. “It’s not about attacking, it’s about loving. It’s about approaching from a place of loving and joy and that when you really look at it, you see, that’s it really genuine, it’s not fake.”

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Linda Rodriguez McRobbie

Linda Rodriguez McRobbie | | READ MORE

Linda Rodriguez McRobbie is an American freelance writer living in London, England. She covers the weird stuff for Smithsonian.com , Boing Boing , Slate , mental_floss , and others, and she's the author of Princesses Behaving Badly.

clown and ghost meaning

The History of Creepy Clowns, Explained

Before the 20th century, clowns in american circuses were largely considered a form of adult entertainment, writes this historian., the conversation, published oct 25, 2022.

This article originally appeared on The Conversation .

This article by Madeline Steiner is republished here with permission from The Conversation. This content is shared here because the topic may interest Snopes readers; it does not, however, represent the work of Snopes fact-checkers or editors.

The scary clown has become a horror staple.

Featuring Art the Clown as the main villain, Damien Leone’s new film “ Terrifier 2 ” is so gruesome that there are reports of viewers vomiting and passing out in the theater. And every Halloween, you’ll see vicious clowns stalking haunted house attractions or trick-or-treaters dressed as Pennywise , the evil clown from Stephen King’s “It.”

It can be hard to imagine a time when clowns were regularly invited to children’s birthday parties and hospital wards – not to terrorize, but to delight and entertain. For much of the 20th century, this was the standard role of the clown .

However, clowns have always had a dark side. Before the 20th century, clowns in American circuses were largely considered a form of adult entertainment.

In my own research on the history of the 19th-century circus, I spend a lot of time in archives where I regularly come across vintage photos of clowns.

Now, I don’t consider myself afraid of clowns. In fact, I always try to remind folks that today’s clowns are serious artists with an enormous amount of training in their craft. But even I have to admit that the clowns I come across from old circuses give me the heebie-jeebies.

Drunken, Lewd Clowns in Drag

For most of the 19th century, circuses were relatively small, one-ring events where audiences could hear performers speak.

These shows were rowdy affairs in which audiences felt free to yell, boo and hiss at performers. Typically, clowns would engage in banter with the stoic ringmaster, who was often the target for the clowns’ pranks. Borrowing comedic traditions from the blackface minstrel show , circus clowns used puns, non sequiturs and exaggerated burlesque humor.

One very popular clown act, which Mark Twain depicted in “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” involved a performer disguised as a drunken circus patron who shocked the audience by entering the ring and clumsily attempting to ride one of the show’s horses before dramatically revealing himself to be part of the show. Famous 19th-century clown Dan Rice was known for including local gossip and political commentary in his performances and impersonating prominent figures in each town he visited.

The jokes they told were often misogynistic and full of sexual double-entendres, which wasn’t a problem because circus audiences at this time were mostly adult and male. Back then, circuses were a stigmatized form of entertainment in the U.S., considered disreputable for their association with gambling, grift, scantily clad female performers, profanity and alcohol. Church leaders regularly warned their congregations not to attend the circus. Some states even had laws banning circuses altogether .

A circus poster featuring clowns engaged in various hijinks.

Clowns played a part in the circus’ seedy reputation.

Showman P.T. Barnum noted that part of the appeal of the circuses “consisted of the clown’s vulgar jests, emphasized with still more vulgar and suggestive gestures.” Clowns also subverted gender norms, with many appearing in drag, often exaggerating the female figure with cartoonishly big fake breasts.

In the early 19th century, some circuses also featured a separate tent that contained a “cooch show.” Male patrons were invited, for a fee, to watch women dance and strip.

Circus historian Janet Davis notes that some of these performances included clowns in drag “playing gender-bending pranks on dumbfounded men who expected to see nude women.” In a shocking revelation, Davis also notes that at some cooch show performances, gay clowns had sexual encounters with male audience members “during and after anonymously crowded scenes.”

These clowns, suffice it to say, weren’t for kids.

Clowns Clean Up Their Act

It wasn’t really until the 1880s and 1890s, when entertainment impresarios like Barnum made efforts to “clean up” the circus to draw in a larger audience, that clowns truly became associated with children.

After circuses started traveling by railroad, they could carry more equipment, allowing them to expand from one ring to three. Audiences could no longer hear performers, so the clown became a pantomime comedian, eliminating any potentially vulgar or suggestive language.

Circus owners, aiming to make as much money as possible, tried to court a broader audience, including women and children. That necessitated the removal of any scandalous acts and strict monitoring of their employees’ behavior.

Circus advertisement featuring drawings of clowns and animals.

The shows with the most staying power, like Barnum & Bailey’s Greatest Show on Earth, were known as “Sunday school” shows , free of any objectionable content. They successfully portrayed themselves as the purveyors of good, clean fun.

Clowns played a role in this transformation. With now-silent acts focused on physical comedy, their performances were easy for children to understand. Clowns remained tricksters, but their slapstick comedy was seen as all in good fun.

This had a lasting effect. Clowns entertained families at the circus, and, as entertainment moved to film and television, child-friendly clowns followed there too. Clowns became staples of children’s entertainment in the 20th century. A popular television program featuring Bozo the Clown ran for 40 years, from 1960 to 2001. Beginning in the 1980s, clowns became regular visitors to children’s hospitals to cheer up young patients. And companies like McDonald’s used clowns as mascots to make their brands appealing to children.

But in the 21st century, there’s been a sharp turnaround. A 2008 study concluded that “clowns are universally disliked” by children today. Some point to clown-turned-serial killer John Wayne Gacy as the turning point, while others may blame Stephen King’s “It” for yoking clowns to horror.

Madeline Steiner is a Postdoctoral Fellow of History at the University of South Carolina .

This article is republished from The Conversation , a nonprofit, independent news organization dedicated to unlocking the knowledge of experts for the public good, under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article .

By The Conversation

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A surprising history of the creepy clown

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“Day after day he sat before the mirror, brush in hand, marking his features, wiping them clean, and starting again, until finally a face emerged from the candlelight that bore a grin so incendiary it refused to be erased,” writes Andrew McConnell Stott in his acclaimed biography The Pantomime Life of Joseph Grimaldi.

“It began with a thick foundation of greasepaint, applied to every exposed inch of face, neck and chest… He fixed it with a cloud of powder, then painted a blood-red wound, a mile-wide smear of jam, to form the gaping, gluttonous cavern of a mouth. The eyes, wide and rolling, were arched by thick brows… each cheek received a red chevron that conveyed insolently rude health while being simultaneously suggestive of some exotic beast of Hindu demonology.”

As a description of a mask, it is disturbing. As a description of the modern clown, it is insightful: when these purveyors of mayhem moved from the stage to the circus ring, they continued to be as unsettling as they were amusing.

Joseph Grimaldi is seen as the forerunner to the modern clown – an annual ‘clown’s service’ is held at a church in London in his honour (Credit: Alamy)

Joseph Grimaldi is seen as the forerunner to the modern clown – an annual ‘clown’s service’ is held at a church in London in his honour (Credit: Alamy)

It was at the turn of the 19th Century when the British pantomime star Grimaldi honed his alter-ego Joey, a character that was the forerunner to the clown we know today – currently terrorising people around the world in a spiralling ‘clown-demic’. Reports of clowns attempting to lure children into woods in the US state of South Carolina first emerged in August. Since then, there have been sightings of clowns behaving in menacing ways around the world: the social panic has led to a backlash, with arrests, school lockdowns and local officials banning clown costumes at Halloween. McDonald’s has limited Ronald McDonald’s public appearances and a ‘Clown Lives Matter’ march scheduled in Arizona had to be cancelled after organisers received death threats .

The craze has been condemned by professional clowns, who claim it might threaten their livelihood and “risks permanently damaging the reputation of the artform” . Yet clowns have not always been unthreatening children’s entertainers: when Grimaldi transformed himself into Joey, he was tapping into a tradition that stretched back thousands of years.

Gallows humour

There are accounts of a funny man in ancient Rome who performed impressions of the deceased – at their own funerals. The archimimus was allowed to offend even mourning family members. Lucius M Sargent recounts how Suetonius, in his Life of Tiberius, described one at the funeral for the emperor Vespasian. “It was his business to imitate the voice, manner and gestures of the defunct,” writes Sargent. “The fellow openly cracks his jokes on the absurd expense of the funeral.”

Jester figures attended ancient Roman funerals, as this image of a procession in Pompeii circa 50 AD shows (Credit: Alamy)

Jester figures attended ancient Roman funerals, as this image of a procession in Pompeii circa 50 AD shows (Credit: Alamy)

The archimimus of Rome took liberties in the same way as the court jesters of medieval European royalty. “The court jester was given licence to say things that might be rude or impolitic or socially unacceptable – even about the king,” says Benjamin Radford, author of Bad Clowns . “He could make fun of a king’s weight or how young his concubines were, and not be put to death for it because of the clown’s role as a truthsayer.

It’s a mistake to ask when did clowns go bad – because they were never ‘good’ to begin with – Benjamin Radford

“If you take a broader look at the history of the clown, they have always been an ambiguous figure. Sometimes they’re laughing at themselves, sometimes they’re laughing at you – sometimes they’re the victim, sometimes you’re the victim. It’s a mistake to ask when did clowns go bad – because they were never ‘good’ to begin with,” he says. “You see this in the harlequin character, and of course in Mr Punch – that is a classic evil clown archetype which has been performed in England for more than 300 years. It’s this beloved character who is both funny and evil. That’s an irresistible stew to many people.”

Created in the Italian commedia dell’arte, the Harlequin character took on a different role as pantomime developed in England in the 18th Century (Credit: Shutterstock)

Created in the Italian commedia dell’arte, the Harlequin character took on a different role as pantomime developed in England in the 18th Century (Credit: Shutterstock)

Radford sees echoes today. “Donald Trump has exploited aspects of the evil clown perfectly – he’s a showman, a performer, he insults people and then when called on it, he says ‘I was just joking’ – he does it for attention, as clowns do. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, there are many clear parallels to the evil clown character.”

Masking fears

In his research, Radford was surprised by the range of places in which the archetype appears. “Once you begin picking up the threads and identify common themes in the evil clown character, they pop out,” he says.

For centuries, the Cherokee people of North America have performed a ritual reacting against outsider intrusion. The Booger Dance begins with a prelude in which tribe members dance together for around 30 minutes; then a group of up to 10 males arrive, wearing masks representing foreigners – often disfigured as though infected with smallpox. American anthropologist Dr Frank Gouldsmith Speck observed performances in 1935 and 1936 at a Cherokee reservation in western North Carolina. In his book Cherokee Dance and Drama , he describes how the masked company “boisterously enters the house where the night dance party is held. The maskers are systematically malignant. On entering, some of them act mad, fall on the floor, hit at the spectators… and chase the girls.”

Booger masks of the Cherokee people of North Carolina are worn to represent outsiders during the performance of a ritual dance (Credit: Mathers Museum of World Cultures/Flickr)

Booger masks of the Cherokee people of North Carolina are worn to represent outsiders during the performance of a ritual dance (Credit: Mathers Museum of World Cultures/Flickr)

This is the tightrope walked by the clown: anarchy contained just enough to allow for laughter

There is humour as well as menace in the ritual. For the main part, each masked man “performs awkward and grotesque steps, as if he were a clumsy white man trying to imitate Indian dancing”. This continues “until all the masked visitors have competed in drawing applause by their obscene names and clowning”. At the arrival of the Boogers, Speck notes, “when the first invader was questioned about his nationality and identity, he resoundingly broke wind and this was greeted by risible applause”.

This is the tightrope walked by the clown: anarchy contained just enough to allow for laughter, a threat that dissolves into an object of ridicule. When that balance tips the wrong way, it’s a quick slide into horror. Philosophy professor David Livingstone Smith believes the mismatch between appearance and action is what makes clowns creepy.

Psychologists have found that people find clowns creepy because they can’t see their real expressions (Credit: Alamy)

Psychologists have found that people find clowns creepy because they can’t see their real expressions (Credit: Alamy)

“Clowns are peculiar because they’re meant to be delightful and amusing but a lot of people find them disturbing,” he tells BBC Culture, referencing the 2016 research paper On the Nature of Creepiness . Psychologists Francis McAndrew and Sara Koehnke of Knox College in Illinois asked more than 1,000 people to rate the creepiness of a list of occupations as part of a wider survey. “Clowns won the creepiness jackpot,” says Livingstone Smith.

The study concluded that “being ‘creeped out’ is an evolved adaptive emotional response to ambiguity about the presence of threat”: in other words, as Smith wrote on the website Aeon , “a person is creepy if we are uncertain about whether he or she is someone to fear”.

The fears of a clown

This inherent creepiness was taken to an extreme with the idea of the ‘killer clown’: the character that pranksters are currently bringing into streets and alleyways across the globe. Some argue that this began with the arrest of serial killer John Wayne Gacy in 1978. Gacy had dressed as ‘Pogo the Clown’ at children’s parties, and made a series of clown paintings while on death row. He is often touted as the inspiration for Pennywise in Stephen King’s 1986 horror novel It (King has recently spoken out about the ‘killer clown’ trend , saying: “time to cool the clown hysteria – most of ‘em are good, cheer up the kiddies, make people laugh”.)

Stephen King’s 1986 horror novel It featured a killer clown, Pennywise, played by Tim Curry (pictured) in a TV adaptation (Credit: Alamy)

Stephen King’s 1986 horror novel It featured a killer clown, Pennywise, played by Tim Curry (pictured) in a TV adaptation (Credit: Alamy)

Yet it’s a strand of popular culture that extends back far beyond Pennywise. Ruggero Leoncavallo’s 1892 opera Pagliacci  (which means ‘clowns’ in Italian) features a clown who discovers his wife is cheating on him, and murders her on stage. In one of the opera’s arias, the clown laments that his job is to make the audience laugh, even if he is crying inside – he later sings “ Se il viso è pallido, è di vergogna ”: “if my face is white, it is for shame”. French playwright Catulle Mendes claimed Leoncavallo stole the plot from his 1887 play La Femme de Tabarin , in which a clown also murders his cheating wife on stage: as she is dying, she smears her husband’s lips with her blood.

The potential for clowns to invoke fear was widely recognised at that time. In 1879, the French writer Edmond de Goncourt wrote that clowns’ “frolicking and jumping doesn’t try to amuse the eye, but rather manages to give birth to troubled astonishment and emotions of fear and almost painful surprises from this strange and unhealthy motion of body and muscle [with] visions of Bedlam, of the amphitheatre of anatomy, of the morgue.” He calls clowns “modern phantoms of the night”, whose actions are “idiotic gesticulations, the agitated mimicry of a band of madmen”.

Serial killer John Wayne Gacy dressed as ‘Pogo the clown’ at children’s parties: this is one of the paintings he made while on death row (Credit: Alamy)

Serial killer John Wayne Gacy dressed as ‘Pogo the clown’ at children’s parties: this is one of the paintings he made while on death row (Credit: Alamy)

Madness was arguably part of the appeal of Grimaldi. Trained in clowning by an abusive, tyrannical father, he retreated into childhood with the character Joey. According to Stott however, this “was categorically not a return to innocence – there was little comfort to be had in revisiting a period of his life that had been unrelentingly complex and traumatic”. Grimaldi had been left crippled by injuries from decades of slapstick tumbling, and was in constant pain. “I am ‘Grim all day’,” he joked, “but I make you laugh at night.” Prone to depression, with an alcoholic son who died at the age of 30, Grimaldi took to the bottle himself and died in poverty.

Make ‘em laugh

At the age of 25, Charles Dickens was asked to edit Grimaldi’s memoirs, shortly after the great clown’s death in 1837. Dickens had already written The Pickwick Papers, which featured a character said to be based on Grimaldi’s son: “the glassy eyes, contrasting fearfully with the thick white paint with which the face was besmeared; the grotesquely-ornamented head, trembling with paralysis, and the long skinny hands, rubbed with white chalk – all gave him a hideous and unnatural appearance”.

Stott has written that , through these memoirs, “laughter and misery becomes the balance-beam on which Grimaldi’s existence is constantly weighed as every career triumph is paid for with a proportionate personal agony, and every moment of joy countered by grief.”

It’s the belief that clowns are meant to be harmless that is recent, not the idea that they are unsettling. “There’s an ambiguity about what kind of thing they are,” says Livingstone Smith. “If clowns reconfigured themselves such that the ambiguity was diminished, they wouldn’t be as disturbing.” But arguably, they’d also no longer be clowns.

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Koko The Clown Ghost Meaning

Koko the Clown Ghost Meaning: Unveiling the Enigmatic Character and its Legacy

Koko the Clown, a beloved animated character from the early days of animation, has intrigued and captivated audiences for decades. Created by the legendary animator Max Fleischer, Koko the Clown made his debut in the silent short film “Out of the Inkwell” in 1919. With his distinctive white face, oversized red lips, and jolly demeanor, Koko quickly became an iconic figure in the world of animation. However, what many may not know is that Koko the Clown has an intriguing ghostly meaning attached to his character. In this article, we will explore the mysterious ghostly connection of Koko the Clown, along with five unique facts about this enigmatic character.

The Ghostly Meaning of Koko the Clown: Koko the Clown’s ghostly connection stems from the fact that he was often portrayed as a character trapped in a two-dimensional world, brought to life by the animator’s pen. This concept of a character breaking free from the constraints of the animated world and becoming a living entity has led to Koko being associated with ghostly or supernatural themes. The idea that Koko exists in a liminal space between the animated and real worlds adds an intriguing layer to his character, making him more than just a typical cartoon figure.

Five Unique Facts about Koko the Clown: 1. Influential Character: Koko the Clown was one of the first animated characters to interact with the real world, opening the door for countless other animated characters to do the same. His groundbreaking presence in “Out of the Inkwell” paved the way for the integration of animation into live-action films and television shows.

2. Inspiration for Future Characters: Koko’s design and personality have inspired many other animated characters over the years. Notably, his oversized red lips and wide smile influenced the creation of characters like Betty Boop, Mickey Mouse, and even The Joker from Batman.

3. Transformation into a 3D Character: In later years, Koko the Clown underwent a transformation from a 2D character to a 3D one. The character was brought to life using rotoscope animation techniques, which involved tracing over live-action footage of a human actor. This innovative approach added a new dimension to Koko’s character, blurring the lines between animation and reality even further.

4. Cultural Impact: Koko the Clown became a cultural phenomenon during the 1920s and 1930s, with his image appearing on various merchandise, including toys, clothing, and even in advertising campaigns. His popularity was a testament to the growing influence of animation in popular culture.

5. Resurgence of Popularity: In recent years, Koko the Clown has experienced a resurgence in popularity, thanks to the internet and the rediscovery of classic animation. Online platforms have allowed a new generation to appreciate the charm and artistry of Koko’s character, reminding us of the lasting impact he has had on the world of animation.

FAQs about Koko the Clown:

1. Was Koko the Clown a real person? No, Koko the Clown was an animated character created by Max Fleischer.

2. What was Koko’s personality like? Koko was portrayed as a mischievous and playful character, often getting into humorous and sometimes surreal situations.

3. Why is Koko associated with ghosts? Koko’s ghostly association stems from his portrayal as a character breaking free from the confines of the animated world, blurring the lines between reality and animation.

4. What happened to Koko the Clown? Koko’s popularity declined in the 1940s with the rise of other animated characters. However, his legacy lives on through the influence he had on future characters and animation techniques.

5. Is Koko the Clown still relevant today? Although Koko’s popularity waned over the years, he has experienced a resurgence in recent times, fueled by the nostalgia for classic animation and the accessibility of online platforms.

6. Did Koko have any notable catchphrases? Koko was a silent character and didn’t have any specific catchphrases. His actions and expressions spoke for themselves.

7. Did Koko the Clown have any sidekicks? Koko often interacted with his creator, Max Fleischer, and other live-action characters in the “Out of the Inkwell” series, but he didn’t have a specific sidekick.

8. What animation techniques were used to bring Koko to life? Koko was initially hand-drawn by Fleischer and later animated using rotoscope techniques, where live-action footage was traced frame by frame to create the illusion of movement.

9. Did Koko the Clown have a theme song? Yes, Koko had a theme song called “St. James Infirmary Blues,” which became synonymous with the character.

10. Are there any Koko the Clown merchandise available today? While vintage Koko the Clown merchandise can be found through collectors or online marketplaces, there is limited new merchandise available featuring the character.

11. Did Koko the Clown appear in any feature-length films? Koko made several appearances in short films but did not have a starring role in any feature-length films.

12. Who voiced Koko the Clown? Koko was a silent character and did not have a specific voice actor.

13. What is Koko the Clown’s legacy? Koko the Clown’s legacy lies in his groundbreaking presence as an animated character, his influence on future characters, and his enduring appeal as an iconic figure in animation history.

In conclusion, Koko the Clown’s ghostly association adds an intriguing layer to his character, making him more than just a typical animated figure. Through his mischievous and playful personality, Koko has left an indelible mark on the world of animation, inspiring future characters and captivating audiences for over a century.

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Laura is a seasoned wordsmith and pop culture connoisseur with a passion for all things literary and cinematic. Her insightful commentary on books, movies, and the glitzy world of film industry celebrities has captivated audiences worldwide. With a knack for blending literary analysis and movie magic, Laura's unique perspective offers a fresh take on the entertainment landscape. Whether delving into the depths of a novel or dissecting the latest blockbuster, her expertise shines through, making her a go-to source for all things book and film-related.

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clown and ghost meaning

The real reason clowns scare us

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This Halloween may be the scariest in a long time. Facing the usual huge crowds of zombies, witches and vampires, deep down, many of us most fear running into one of the “killer clowns” that have been spotted in creepy places across the world over the past few months.

I barely noticed it at first, even though I actually study what people find creepy and unsettling. As well as my recent studies of the uncanny valley (a disturbing region where things can be so close to human that they become frightening) I have been fascinated by ghost stories, horror novels and urban legends since I was young enough for trick or treating. But the coverage of the so-called “killer clowns” had pretty much passed me by until one strident headline from my local paper reported that someone in a clown costume and make-up had been sighted outside a nearby school, knife in hand.

It felt a little too close to home for comfort so I started to read more widely about the reports. I had expected to find a handful of isolated incidents, but the pranks were sufficiently widespread for the police to have issued statements and offered advice to the public. They are clearly taking the matter seriously, and, as the nights draw in, the prospect of encountering a creepy clown in a darkened street has been catching public imagination.

What’s the deal with clowns?

A range of theories have been put forward for why a small but significant number of people across the world are choosing to don costumes, paint their faces and appear in public with the intention of simply causing fear to people going about their business. Whether there is an organised motivation behind the pranks, a publicity stunt or a viral craze, a choice has been made to adopt the menacing clown persona and I found that quite fascinating in itself. Clearly, these people believe that most of us are genuinely frightened by clowns.

Despite this, there has been remarkably little research on “coulrophobia” – a fear of clowns. A recent study into the nature of creepiness found that clowning was the creepiest of occupations. The researchers suggested that this might be because clowns’ intentions towards us are ambiguous – and their behaviour can be threatening as well as comical. However in the context of the recent pranks there is little room for ambiguity as their intentions are clearly not playful.

My research into the uncanny valley looked at how people respond to things that are nearly but not quite human – particularly dolls, robots or computer-generated characters. I measured how people responded to pictures of these near-human agents to see which types of appearance or emotional expression were likely to elicit the greatest sense of unease.

clown and ghost meaning

I looked again at these results in the context of the classic clown face, one where the make-up is used to massively exaggerate the features into either a beaming smile or a down-turned scowl. This exaggeration means that the clown is unable to ever display a natural expression – and it’s this aspect of the appearance that I think is key to understanding why we find them unsettling. I found that there were three particularly eerie combinations of facial expression, and these were the ones which mirrored a clown-like appearance. In two images the mouth was smiling, but the eyes were displaying quite a different emotion of either anger or fear. In one, the mouth is sad and but the eyes are happy.

Making sense of contradiction

I interpreted these findings in the light of earlier research into facial expressions, most notably Paul Ekman ’s theory of “leaked expressions”. Ekman is particularly famous for his work on the suppression of emotional expressions and how they can give cues to when people are lying. His work suggested that the types of expressions where different parts of the face were telling contradictory stories gave us the impression that the person had something to hide, and therefore was not to be trusted.

clown and ghost meaning

The images that I used were created by piecing together photographs of people who were posing strong emotional expressions so the faces that they were pulling were quite extreme and the resulting combinations were certainly more than anyone could do deliberately. However, if you add in thick make-up to paint on the exaggerated smile and pair that with a threatening expression of someone intent to cause fear, and it’s no surprise that the very idea of a neighbourhood clown becomes genuinely unsettling.

As we approach Halloween 2016, reports of clown sightings are building up. There have now even been enough incidents in the UK for a run-down of the creepiest sightings to be compiled. We may never understand quite how the activity has become as widespread as it has – but at least psychology can help us understand why the idea provokes a chill.

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Out of the Inkwell

Out of the Inkwell (1961)

The adventures of Koko The Clown, out of an ink bottle, with his sidekick Kokonut, his girlfriend Kokette and his foe Mean Moe. At the beginning of each episode, Koko interacts with the draw... Read all The adventures of Koko The Clown, out of an ink bottle, with his sidekick Kokonut, his girlfriend Kokette and his foe Mean Moe. At the beginning of each episode, Koko interacts with the drawer. However, with Mean Moe's everlasting pranks, Koko always find a way to outcome these a... Read all The adventures of Koko The Clown, out of an ink bottle, with his sidekick Kokonut, his girlfriend Kokette and his foe Mean Moe. At the beginning of each episode, Koko interacts with the drawer. However, with Mean Moe's everlasting pranks, Koko always find a way to outcome these and win, either with the help of Kokonut...or vice versa !

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Out of the Inkwell (1961)

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  • Trivia Koko the Clown, the protagonist of Out of the Inkwell, had been a secondary character in the movie shorts of the 30s starring Betty Boop. The singing voice of Koko back then was provided by Cab Galloway.
  • Connections Referenced in Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Painted Hills (1993)
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16 (Not-So-Scary) Clowning Terms, Unmasked

By angela tung | oct 28, 2015.

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Between Pennywise and Twisty, clowns have gotten a bad rap. Although  we have every right to be afraid of them, you might be surprised to know that they haven't always been horror movie material. The art of clowning has a long and rich tradition and history, from Pygmy clowns in ancient Egypt to court jesters in medieval Europe to  annoying French mimes . Here are 16 terms to help you get to know clowns beyond their evil grins.

1.  PIERROT

A sentimental, white-faced clown, the pierrot is named for a 17th-century stock character in French pantomime. His costume is loose and white and includes a giant neck ruffle. The pierrot is considered in some circles to be top clown.

2. HARLEQUIN

Often paired with the pierrot, the harlequin is a clown of “mischievous intrigue,” according to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). She is recognizable by her floppy hat, often with bells on it, and diamond-patterned tights. One famous harlequin (aside from DC Comics' puntastic Harley Quinn) is Pablo Picasso, who is said to have  inserted himself into his paintings disguised as the court jester-like clown.

Like the pierrot, the harlequin is named after a stock character, this time from the Italian commedia dell'arte , a kind of improvised playacting that began in the 16th century. The name Harlicken might ultimately come from the Old French word for the leader of la maisnie Hellequin , a gang of demons who flew through the night on horseback.

This slang term for a clown was coined by Pygmalion playwright George Bernard Shaw and is named for famed 18th-century English performer Joseph Grimaldi. Grimaldi's tragic life belied his comedic antics. Due to the “ extraordinary physical demands ” of clowning, Grimaldi suffered so from arthritis and “digestive ailments” that he was forced to retire at 45.

Later, Grimaldi’s son, who had also gotten into clowning, died at 30. J.S., as he was known, was an alcoholic who suffered from epileptic seizures. Some suspected he had either been poisoned or had died as a result of injuries from a fight. Not long after, Grimaldi’s wife passed away, and three years later, Grimaldi himself, by then an impoverished and depressed alcoholic, died at 58.

4. WHITE CLOWN

Joseph Grimaldi might have been the most famous of white or whiteface clowns. Perhaps coming from the tradition of the pierrot, the whiteface is the ringleader of the clown posse. His makeup comes in three variations: European, neat, and grotesque. The European style , which was Joseph Grimaldi's, seems to most resemble the pierrot’s—delicate and not too exaggerated. Neat is similar to European, only slightly more exaggerated, while the grotesque ’s makeup style is highly exaggerated. Think Bozo and Ronald McDonald.

Playing second banana to the whiteface, the Auguste is wild, clumsy, and kind of innocent. The word Auguste is French in origin, but aside from that, where it comes from is unclear. One theory is that an opposite sense arose of the word august , which means majestic, stately, or revered. However, “evidence is lacking,” according to the OED.

6. CHARACTER CLOWN

The character clown is the lowest on the clown totem pole and can take on almost any persona. The earliest characters clowns were the Happy Hobo and the Sad Tramp. One of the most renowned of the tramp clowns was the German-born Otto Griebling , who performed with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

7. CARPET CLOWN

Originally a solo Auguste who performed between acts, the carpet clown now refers to any “fill in” clown. Why carpet? Apparently one of the carpet clown's original duties was to lay out the carpeting for bareback riders.

8., 9 ., AND 10. BUSINESS, GAGS, AND BITS

The term business describes the individual movements of a clown. Gags are short jokes clowns play on each other—if repeated, the joke becomes a running gag—while bits are made up of gags.

11. AND 12. ENTREES AND SIDE DISHES

The entree is made up of bits and gags, and may involve several clowns and a beginning, middle, and an end. A side dish is a shorter version of an entree.

13. BLOW-OFF

The blow-off is the end of a gag, bit, entree, or side dish. Popular blow-offs include a thrown bucket of confetti, the pants drop, and the clown exit.

14. CLOWN STOP

While props and rigging are changed, various clowns, including the carpet variety, keep the audience entertained by performing clown stops, which are brief gags and bits.

15. CLOWN WALK -AROUND

In a clown walk-around, all the clowns come out to promenade around the circus ring, occasionally stopping to perform tricks for the audience.

16. CLOWN ALLEY

What’s a group of clowns called? No, not a horror. A clown alley is a troupe of clowns who perform together regularly. There are a couple of theories for the origin of the term. One is that it’s named for the out of the way, alley-like place where clowns were exiled to put on their potentially messy makeup. Another is that it comes from the Franglish phrase, “Clowns, allez !” or "Clown, go!" which the circus director would shout when it was time to send in the clowns.

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The occult history of the u.s. military’s psyops and its highly symbolic recruitment video.

A video produced by the 4th PSYOP hints at the various ways mass media is used to wage psychological warfare on the public. Here’s a look at this symbolic video and the strange (occult) history of PSYOPS.

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The goal of PSYOP is, essentially, to mess with people’s minds. Appropriately enough, a recent recruitment video by the 4th PSYOP Group accomplished just that. Posted on the official social media accounts associated with the U.S. Military, the video titled Ghosts in the Machine gained some viral traction as viewers were impressed with the video’s production quality … while being baffled by its overarching message and symbolism.

We believe in ghosts… Do you?? 👻👻👻 👇 #PsyWar https://t.co/vwpDDnSufM — 1st Special Forces Command (@1st_SF_Command) May 3, 2022

What does it all mean? To better understand this video, let’s look at the fascinating yet secretive world of PSYOPS.

clown and ghost meaning

PSYOPS stands for “psychological operations”. It can be defined as:

“Planned psychological activities using methods of communications and other means directed to approved audiences in order to influence perceptions, attitudes, and behavior, affecting the achievement of political and military objectives”.

When books describe PSYOPS, they often refer to WWI-era strategies such as dropping leaflets from a plane to demoralize the enemy. That era is long gone. PSYOPS moved way beyond these primitive methods to adopt highly sophisticated techniques utilizing the latest technologies and the immense power of mass media.

But that is not all. There was always a “magical”, supernatural element to PSYOPS.

clown and ghost meaning

In my 2011 article “ Top 10 Most Sinister PSYOP mission patches “, I highlighted the omnipresent “magical” element found in several PSYOP mission patches.

These allusions to magic are not merely figurative. PSYOPS extensively researched occult and supernatural phenomenons such as ESP (extra-sensory perception) and remote viewing.

This symbiotic relationship between PSYOPS and the occult is fully personified by an important yet controversial figure: Michael Aquino.

Michael Aquino and MindWars

clown and ghost meaning

Lieutenant Colonel Michael A. Aquino.

Michael Aquino joined the U.S. Army in 1968 where he became an officer specializing in psychological warfare and, later, a Lieutenant colonel in military intelligence.

As Aquino climbed the ranks of the U.S. military, he also climbed the ranks of another organization: The Church of Satan.

“Michael Aquino began corresponding with Anton LaVey while a psychological operative for the U.S. Army, stationed in the jungles of Vietnam. Aquino returned to the States and was soon made a high-ranking priest and editor of the church’s Cloven Hoof newsletter. His distinctive appearance — he sported a prominent widow’s peak and darkly accented eyebrows — was further enhanced by a small 666 tattooed on his scalp.” – Washington Post, A Devil of a Time

clown and ghost meaning

Aquino doing satanic things.

As years passed, the relationship between Aquino and LaVey deteriorated. The main reason: LaVey believed that Satan was a symbolic force while Aquino believed in the literal existence of Satan. In 1975, Aquino founded the Temple of Set – an occult order that revolved around an Egyptian deity on whom the Hebraic Satan was supposedly based.

Aquino’s occult activities did not interfere with his military career. In fact, he described politics and propaganda as forms of “lesser black magic”.

Aquino divided black magic into two forms: lesser black magic and greater black magic. He stated that lesser black magic entails “impelling” things that exist in the “objective universe” into doing a desired act by using “obscure physical or behavioral laws” and into this category he placed stage magic, psychodramas, politics, and propaganda. – Jesper Aagaard, “The Seeds of Satan: Conceptions of Magic in Contemporary Satanism”

In 1980, as a “PSYOP Research & Analysis Team Leader”, Aquino c0-authored MindWar – an internal U.S. Army paper about the future of psychological operations. While this document was only intended for the eyes of government policymakers, it accidentally became public. And it caused quite a stir.

“Is the government involved in invasion of the mind beyond the blundering, haphazard legacy of the infamous MKULTRA experiments? Even more unsettling, do such efforts extend beyond conventional scientific research to dark and arcane arts whose very existence is the stuff of legend?” – MindWar book description

The least one can say is that MindWar was visionary. It accurately predicted the 4th generation of warfare which focuses on bypassing armies in order to “attack population, culture, and institutions”. And the best way to accomplish this was, of course, through mass media.

“In its strategic context, MindWar must reach out to friends, enemies and neutrals alike across the globe – neither through primitive “battlefield” leaflets and loudspeakers of PSYOP nor through the weak, imprecise, and narrow effort of psychotronics – but through the media possessed by the United States which have the capabilities to reach virtually all people on the face of the Earth. These media are, of course, the electronic media – television and radio. State of the art developments in satellite communication, video recording techniques, and laser and optical transmission of broadcasts make possible a penetration of the minds of the world such as would have been inconceivable just a few years ago.” – Michael A. Aquino and Paul E. Valley, “MindWar”

The ultimate goal of MindWar is to make people willingly do what they’re supposed to do, while not realizing they’ve been pushed towards that decision at every step of the way.

“For the mind to believe in its own decisions, it must feel that it made those decisions without coercion. Coercive measures used by the operative, consequently, must not be detectable by ordinary means. There is no need to resort to mind-weakening drugs such as those explored by the CIA; in fact the exposure of a single such method would do unacceptable damage to MindWar’s reputation for truth.” – Ibid.

Towards the end of this short document, Aquino goes way beyond mass media. He states that PSYOPS must make full use of phenomenons such as electromagnetic fields and Extremely Low-Frequency Waves (ELFs) to make people more suggestible to MindWar.

“There are some purely natural conditions under which minds may become more or less receptive to ideas, and MindWar should take full advantage of such phenomena as atmospheric activity, air ionization and extremely low frequency waves.” ELF waves up to 100Hz are naturally occurring, but they can be produced artificially (such as for the Navy’s Project Sanguine for submarine communication). ELF-waves are not normally noticed by the unaided senses, yet their resonant effect upon the human body has been connected to both physiological disorders and emotional distortion. Infrasound vibration (up to 20 Hz) can subliminally influence brain activity to align itself to delta, theta, alpha or beta wave patterns, inclining an audience toward everything from alterness to passivity. Infrasound could be used tactically, as ELF-waves endure for great distances; and it could be used in conjunction with media broadcasts as well.” – Ibid.

You’ve read correctly: Aquino stated that ELFs can be used in conjunction with media broadcasts.

clown and ghost meaning

My article 2018 “ Government Files About Remote Mind Control ” reviews leaked official documents about altering brain waves.

With all of that being said, let’s take another look at this PSYOP recruitment video.

Ghosts in the Machine

The recruitment video by the 4th PSYOP Group revolves around the saying “All the world’s a stage” – a quote from William Shakepesear which compares the world to a play and people to actors. However, in the context of PYSOP, this quote takes on a deeper meaning: Many of the events we see around the world are staged and choreographed by unseen puppet masters.

Appropriately enough, the video begins with the words:

“Have you ever wondered who’s pulling the strings?”

clown and ghost meaning

A puppet-master pulling the strings.

This creepy figure appears throughout the video without revealing himself. However, his silhouette looks familiar.

clown and ghost meaning

Left: Creepy figure. Right: Aquino.

The video subtly hints at the various “battlefields” of PYSOP using clever shots.

clown and ghost meaning

“Warfare is evolving and all the world’s a stage”. In the background, we see images of people filming propaganda and a person playing the piano. Because the music industry is involved in psychological warfare.

clown and ghost meaning

The video features multiple scenes of people scrolling their phones because Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google, Reddit, and others are MindWar battlefields.

clown and ghost meaning

An old-timey cartoon shows a bumbling clown being revealed as a ghost (aka a spook).

The message of this highly symbolic image: Your ridiculous entertainers are actually agents of propaganda.

clown and ghost meaning

A clown-like entertainer (similar to one seen in the cartoon) gets ready to perform as the words “we come in many forms” are displayed.

clown and ghost meaning

A shot of an empty movie theatre indicates that the entertainment industry is fully involved in psychological warfare against citizens.

clown and ghost meaning

Throughout the video, we see images of protests and political movements. 

The message of these scenes: These events did not happen organically, they were the result of psychological warfare. As Aquino wrote:

“For the mind to believe in its own decisions, it must feel that it made those decisions without coercion.”

In Conclusion

Ghosts in the Machine is a cleverly made recruitment video that appears to target a specific audience: “Conspiracy-minded” people … who want to take part in the conspiracy. Through various symbolic scenes, the video explains how the 4th PSYOP Group uses psychological warfare to defend American interests in foreign conflicts – especially those involving China and Russia. With that being said, a vital question begs to be asked: Is psychological warfare used against American citizens and allied countries?

At the time of PSYOP’s inception, laws were created to prevent the military from conducting psychological warfare on U.S. citizens. However, Aquino himself observed that the 2003 Iraq invasion was preceded by an “extreme MindWar on American people”.

While it is possible that the 4th PSYOP Group is focused on foreign adversaries, psychological warfare is currently being used by all kinds of state and non-state actors. In the 21st century, globalist forces control mass media and political parties. As such, this powerful elite group has been conducting an unprecedented MindWar effort to “attack population, culture, and institutions”. It is happening right before our eyes.

clown and ghost meaning

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Definition of clown

 (Entry 1 of 2)

Definition of clown  (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

  • fool around
  • horse around
  • monkey (around)

Examples of clown in a Sentence

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'clown.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

probably of Low German origin; akin to Frisian klönne clumsy fellow, Old English clyne lump of metal

1563, in the meaning defined at sense 1

1599, in the meaning defined above

Phrases Containing clown

  • play the clown
  • the class clown
  • ass - clown

Articles Related to clown

assclown slang definition

What is an 'ass clown'?

A socially inept or stupid person

juggalo definition insane clown posse icp

A fan of the rap duo Insane Clown Posse

Dictionary Entries Near clown

clown's allheal

Cite this Entry

“Clown.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary , Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/clown. Accessed 30 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition

Kids definition of clown.

Kids Definition of clown  (Entry 2 of 2)

More from Merriam-Webster on clown

Nglish: Translation of clown for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of clown for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about clown

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BETTY BOOP Wiki

  • U.M.&M. T.V. Corp. acquisitions
  • 1919 introductions
  • Betty Boop's Friends
  • Male Characters
  • Out of the Inkwell

Koko the Clown

  • View history

Ko-Ko the Clown

Koko The Clown in 1932

Birthplace:

1600 Broadway, New York City, New York

Nationality:

Polish-American

Sexual orientation:

Heterosexual

Hair Color:

Occupation:

Clown / Circus Performer / Racecar Driver / Scientist / Painter / Hunter / Actor

Koko the Clown originated when Max Fleischer invented the rotoscope, a device which allowed for animation to be more lifelike by tracing motion picture footage of human movement.

To test out his new invention Fleischer photographed his brother Dave in a clown costume. After tracing the film footage amounting to 2,500 drawings and a year's work Koko the Clown was born and appeared in a cartoon series titled Out of the Inkwell from 1918-1929.

Koko's last silent film was Chemical Koko . The Fleischer Studios launched a new series called Talkartoons featuring a majority of characters including Bimbo who not only replaced Koko's silent dog friend Fitz the Dog , but also had adventures of his own and quickly became a star in his own right.

It was in a Talkartoons film with Bimbo in the leading role that Betty Boop made her first appearance in 1930 and later became the Studios headliner. Koko was later merged into the Betty Boop series starting from 1931. In the Betty Boop series he is best friends with Bimbo the dog, and is usually paired up with him.

In some cartoons Koko is sometimes romantically linked to Betty Boop as seen in Betty Boop's Penthouse where he envisions himself marrying her.

Koko also appears in the 1933 Tokio Shunkodo manga .

In some of the cartoons Koko finds Betty attractive, whereas in some of his appearances he does not. In Betty Boop's Hollywood Mystery he has a crush on Lola DaVille . In some of the original Betty Boop cartoons, Koko is a background character. Koko's one true love is his girlfriend Kokette .

Koko was originally planned to feature in Boop! the Betty Boop Musical in an early concept for the Broadway musical, but he was eventually eliminated [1] from the story. He makes a small cameo appearance in the stage artwork.

  • 2 Voiced by
  • 3 Character Design
  • 4 Dave Fleischer as Koko the Clown
  • Koko the Clown: " The poor...H...H...Herring shot? " ( The Herring Murder Case )
  • Koko the Clown: " C'mon help! " ( The Herring Murder Case )
  • Koko the Clown: " I...g...g...gotta get Bimbo the detective. " ( The Herring Murder Case )
  • Koko the Clown: " I'll save ya! " ( Boop-Oop-a-Doop )
  • Koko the Clown: " A bowl of hot soup! " ( Betty Boop's Bizzy Bee )
  • Koko the Clown: " I was a star before Betty Boop came along. " [2] ( Betty Boop's Big Break )
  • Koko the Clown: " At first I was kinda annoyed that she was gettin' all the attention, but heck, she was so gosh-darn lovable, ya had to forgive her! But there was that suit brought by that Helen Kane girl. Then came the scandal over the Will Hayes production code. Betty never really got over that, I'm afraid. " ( Betty Boop's Big Break )
  • Koko the Clown: " Sally's right Bimbo, Betty's most likely tuckered out what with the extra shifts. She works at the club, on top of her dancing and singing lessons... plus looking after he poor ol' Grampy. " ( Dynamite Digital Comics )
  • Koko the Clown: " Aw, leave him be Sal, he's got good taste. " ( Dynamite Digital Comics )
  • Koko the Clown: " Yes indeedy! She's quite the hoofer... " ( Dynamite Digital Comics )
  • Dave Fleischer (Model)
  • Cab Calloway (Singing)
  • Claude Reese (1931-1933)
  • Eugeniusz Bodo (1932)
  • Larry Storch (1960s)
  • Danny Bravin (1980)
  • Andrea Benfante (2016-2023)

Character Design

Koko the ClownFleischer

According to a Fleischer Studios source from the 1920s, Koko the Clown seems to be dubbed the "New Yama Yama Clown" indicating that he is based on the The Yama Yama Man. Koko debuted as The Bray Clown, then the Inkwell Clown and finally Koko the Clown. Koko's face is painted white, he usually wears a black frilled all-in-one clown costume and black clown hat which both feature three pom-poms each. Koko also wears large clown shoes. When colored or in color, his palette is alternatively blue, red or pink. As seen in WFRR, he has can be seen wearing pink and yellow. Madame Upanova from Disney's Fantasia who is standing behind Koko makes it look like Koko has pink hair. The supposed hair mistaken by some, is actually in fact her feathers. Koko in that scene takes off his hat, making it look like Upanova's feathers are his hair.

Dave Fleischer as Koko the Clown

Dave Fleischer as Koko the Clown

Dave Fleischer served as rotoscoped model for Max Fleischer 's creation Koko the Clown.

  • Koko's name was originally worded Ko-Ko. 
  • He is the only Fleischer character apart from his former dog Fitz , to have lost his copyright protection. Koko is in the public domain, because any works that were first published or distributed in the United States before January 1, 1928, are no longer protected by copyright. The 1918–1919 character Ko-Ko officially debuted in Ko-Ko's Showtime in 1924.
  • Grampy 's character design is somewhat identical to Koko. Both are completely different characters and not the same person.
  • On occasion, Ko-Ko has been depicted as effeminate, for example in Any Rags? . It's unclear, though, if he is making fun of this.
  • Koko's best-known role was as back-up to Betty Boop in  Snow White,  which came out more than four years before the Disney version. In it, the Clown who has been turned into a ghost by the  Wicked Queen  lip-synchs to Cab Calloway's "Saint James Infirmary", while morphing into various objects mentioned in the song. Since Koko was mostly a silent star, it's one of the few classic-era cartoons in which he had any voice at all.
  • Koko has had several girlfriends , most of his earlier girlfriends were created by Koko.
  • In some of the Betty Boop cartoons, Koko can be seen fighting for Betty's affection. 
  • Koko got a new lease on life in 1955, when Paramount Pictures, which by then owned the old Fleischer Studio's assets, sold his cartoons to television. The silent ones were of little use in that venue, but his 1930s appearances with Betty Boop were quite viable at least, as long as black and white cartoons were broadcastable, after which he faded into limbo again.
  • Koko's last gasp came in TV's 1961-62 season, when a new series of Out of the Inkwell  cartoons was made for syndication. In this one, character actor Larry Storch, whose animation credits include a couple of minor Looney Toons characters of the 1960s such as Cool Cat and Merlin the Magic Mouse, provided the Clown's voice and those of most other characters. Koko had a female counterpart, Kokette, and a dog, Kokonut. Max Fleischer, still alive and pushing 80, was said to be displeased with the quality of its animation. Today, it is mercifully forgotten.
  • Koko's old films, however, remain dated, seldom seen, and compared to modern technology, more than a little primitive. But they can still be found in video bargain bins and out-of-the-way cable stations, and are still cherished by those who love creativity in cartoons.
  • Koko has a small cameo in  Who Framed Roger Rabbit .
  • In  Betty Boop's Hollywood Mystery  Koko is a silent character and cannot speak, which is a reference to his appearances in his original series which debuted in the 1920s, whereas in the Betty Boop cartoon series Koko is able to speak.
  • Out of the Inkwell to Fame and Fortune (1924)
  • At the Rialto & Rivoli  (1925)
  • Creator of Koko at WLTH  (1928)
  • Out of the Inkwell Theme Song (1962)
  • ↑ Betty Boop Musical#Betty Boop Musical/ Betty Boop Broadway
  • ↑ Betty Boop's Big Break
  • 1 Betty Boop
  • 2 Mae Questel
  • 3 Jasmine Amy Rogers
  • View history

Koko by sammytorres

Art by Sammy Torres on Deviantart.

Koko the Clown was an animated character created by animation pioneer Max Fleischer.

The character originated when Max Fleischer invented the rotoscope, a device that allowed for animation to be more lifelike by tracing motion picture footage of human movement. To test out his new invention Fleischer photographed his brother Dave in a clown costume. After tracing the film footage amounting to some 2,500 drawings and a year's work, Koko the Clown was born. Koko's appearance owes much to The Yama Yama Man. Both Koko and " Yama Yama Girl " Bessie McCoy wore a loose black material with three large white pom-poms in front and a white-trimmed neck frill. Both costumes have white gloves with long fingers, white foot coverings, and a hat with the same white pom-pom as in front. A 1922 sheet music drawing makes the connection more explicit, saying "Out of the Inkwell, the New Yama Yama Clown" with a picture of Koko.

Using the rotoscope device, Max Fleischer was able to secure a contract with the John R. Bray Studios, and in 1919 they began Out of the Inkwell as an entry in each monthly in the Bray Pictograph Screen Magazine released through Paramount (1919–1920), and later Goldwyn (1921). Aside from the novelty of the rotoscope, this series offered a combination of live-action and animation centered on Max Fleischer as the creative cartoonist and lord over the clown. The clown would often slip from Max's eye and go on an adventure, or sort of pull a prank on his creator. Fleischer himself wrote, produced, co-animated and directed all the early shorts

At first the character had no name and was known simply as "The Clown," or "Fleischer's Clown." The series was very popular and in 1921, Max and Dave Fleischer formed their own studio, Out of the Inkwell Films, Inc. Their films were distributed through the States Rights method through Warner Brothers, Winkler Pictures, Standard, and finally The Red Seal Pictures Corporation. The "Clown" was named Ko-Ko in 1923 when Dick Huemer came to the studio as their Animation Supervisor, and it was at this time that the canine companion, Fitz was created to share the mischief. Huemer also redesigned the "Clown", and set the drawing style that made the series famous. The illustration at the heading is an example by Huemer.

In the films produced from 1924 to 1927, the clown's name was hyphenated, "Ko-Ko". The hyphen was dropped due to legal issues associated with the new association with Paramount beginning in mid 1927 following the bankruptcy of The Red Seal Pictures Corporation. "Out of the Inkwell" was also retitled for Paramount as "The Inkwell Imps" and continued until July 1929, ending with "Chemical Koko". "The Inkwell Imps" series was replaced by Flesicher's new sound series, "Talkartoons".

Throughout the 1920s, the Fleischer studio proved to be one of the top producers of animation with clever humor and numerous innovations. In 1924, Fleischer decided to go a step further and introduce a new series called Ko-Ko Song Car-tunes, sing-along shorts (featuring "The Famous Bouncing Ball"). These early cartoons were actually the first films ever to use soundtracks (two years before The Jazz Singer and three years before Steamboat Willie). These sound shorts received limited distribution through the 36 theaters owned by The Red Seal company, which became defunct shortly before the sound era officially began. While the last KOKO films were being produced, the Fleischers returned to producing sound cartoons with a revival of the song films named Screen Songs, which were released to theaters starting in February, 1929. Throughout this transitional period, the Fleischer Studio continued to produce a number of innovative and advanced films between 1929 and 1933.

In 1931, Koko was taken out of retirement and became a regular in the new Fleischer Talkartoons series with costars, Betty Boop and Bimbo. Koko's last theatrical appearance was in the "Betty Boop" cartoon, "Ha! Ha! Ha!" (1934), a remake of an "Out of the Inkwell silent, "The Cure" (1924). Koko's first color appearance was a cameo in "Toys Will Be Toys," (1949), one of the revived "Screen Songs" series produced by Famous Studios. Koko also made a cameo appearance in Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

In 1958, Max Fleischer set out to revive Out of the Inkwell for television, and a series of 100 color episodes were produced in 1960–1961 by Hal Seeger using the voice talents of Larry Storch.

  • 2 Bozo the Clown
  • 3 Killer Klowns

Song Meanings and Facts

Song Meanings and Facts

Insane Clown Posse

“in my room” by insane clown posse.

by Amanda London · Published October 1, 2021 · Updated October 1, 2021

Insane Clown Posse’s “In My Room” is one of those types of songs which by and large revolves around a linear narrative. Moreover, it can be classified as being akin to horrorcore in a number of respects. But instead of jumping the gun, let’s analyze the story straight through.

The Story of “In My Room”

From the onset the vocalist is depicted as a loner, and perhaps we can even say outcast. The highlight of his day is getting off of work, for henceforth he can spend the rest of the afternoon/evening alone. Well actually, he won’t be alone in the truest sense of the word. 

Instead, as relayed, there’s a young female ghost, “demonic and bloody”, who comes to visit him. And more to the point is she being his lover, i.e. the entity, if you will, that holds him down throughout the night.

Another horrific element to this tale is detailed in the second verse. Here, the narrator proceeds to ‘twist off the head’ of ‘one of his mother’s cats’ due to it jumping on the bed and scaring the ghost away. And at this point, you may be saying to yourself ‘this reads like some sort of a sick love story’. 

But there’s ‘more to it than that’, according to the vocalist. Or stated otherwise, he is genuinely in love with this ghost. In fact he is so much so that if she fails to come around as anticipated, he reveals himself as the type of individual to “bring a shotgun to school”. We would further speculate that he actually goes on to use the weapon on innocent people. This brings up images of 1999’s Columbine High School massacre, which we will also get to shortly.

Story gets even more macabre!

And along those lines in the third verse, the ghost lets the vocalist know that she has to stop visiting as she was “spotted by the neighbor’s kid”. That is to say that she doesn’t want him to blow up the spot by letting people know that they’re been seeing each other. Indeed, she tells her lover that “she may [even] come to life” if only he can make the kids in the ‘hood, i.e. the small boy, keep their secret quiet. So the vocalist proceeds to not only murder the child but also his parents, who try to intervene.

Subsequently he returns to his room, waiting for the spirit to rematerialize, as promised. But instead it never returns. So in trying to make sense out of this narrative, our conclusion would be, obviously, that the vocalist is portraying the role of a deranged killer. 

And you know how sometimes a murderer goes to court and says a voice made him do it? Well that aforementioned spirit was his voice, so to speak, perhaps being a demon, as he alludes to. 

Another speculation can be that she too was the victim of a “bloody” murder, even for all we know someone he killed coming back to haunt him. Indeed, with him strangling cats and all, the signs were there beforehand that dude is deranged. 

In Conclusion

So all things considered, what the Insane Clown Posse are probably speaking to, in more realistic terms, is how there could be killers living amongst us, while their neighbors are unaware of just how dangerous these individuals are. 

In fact this song was dropped at a time when mass killings really started to be accepted as sort of a mainstay in the United States, in the aftermath of Columbine, the D.C. sniper attacks, the Lockheed Martin shooting and even 9/11, if you were to classify the latter as such. So it’s as if the homeys, in their own “insane” way, are advising the public to be on alert. Or at least that’s the point we hope they’re trying to get at.

Lyrics to "In My Room"

When was “In My Room” released?

This track came out on 31 August 2004. It is one of the tracks found on Insane Clown Posse’s “The Wraith: Hell’s Pit” album. And the label that put it out is the amply named Psychopathic Records, a label co-founded by the Insane Clown Posse.

Bandmates Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope wrote this song alongside regular collaborator Mike P., who also produced “In My Room”. Shaggy and Violent, being the founders of Insane Clown Posse, are still down with the crew as of the writing of this post.

The Insane Clown Posse is a hip-hop crew from Detroit who has been at it for quite some time now, dropping 17 studio albums between 1992 and 2021. Their commercial heyday may have been in the late aughts. During that period, the Clowns’ albums “The Great Milenko” (1997) and “The Amazing Jeckel Brothers” (1999) both achieved RIAA platinum-certified status. 

But the height of their critical success came after the turn of the century. The said time the following album of their top Billboard’s Indie Albums chart:

  • 2002’s The Wraith: Shangri-La
  • 2004’s The Wraith: Hell’s Pit, 2009’s Bang! Pow! Boom! 
  • 2012 The Mighty Death Pop!  

Also, the last two entries on that list broke the top 5 of the Billboard 200, as did “The Amazing Jeckel Brothers” which, all things considered, would be their best-performing album overall. And whereas Insane Clown Posse’s longevity is impressive and their name well-known, they never went on to become music superstars in the truest sense of the term.

Although Insane Clown Posse’s primary genre of specialization is listed as hip-hop, they are not the type of act that has been embraced by rap music purists. They are rather considered more along the lines of rockers in that regard. In fact as far as the mainstream rap community goes, what they are perhaps best known for is having  a notable feud with  fellow Detroit native Eminem earlier in Slim Shady’s career.

In My Room

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The person isn’t an adult, so it isn’t their job that they are leaving at the beginbeginning. They are most likely a teenager since the the song says “2:45 and the bell went off” which is a very common release time for high school and then later he literally says “Without you, I’d bring a shotgun to school”

oh gosh yea ur right

he isn’t a teenager because if you go to google and look up insane clown posse and go to violent J it claims he has a son and a daughter so his son could be a teen still in school so don’t assume till you look it up plus violent j is almost 50

No but the guy in the song’s STORY is supposed to be a teenager, not the actual singer obviously lmfao 🙂

This is great, but I also noticed, in the beginning, there are taps like on glass, and he says tap tap in the lyrics later on “I waited two or three days, four days Waitin’ for the tap tap like always” stating that he’s been waiting for her to tap and come to him

What I came to the realization is that the ghost girl got what she wanted taking his victims as her new family (I am tired and made a connection that probably doesn’t connect)

I always assumed that the “ghost” was the neighbours wife, as it mentioned that her tongue tasted like bacon (as she had probably just eaten it for dinner), a ghost wouldn’t taste like bacon, and she wouldn’t be able to visit him if her kid knows she goes there( he might tell the dad) and she stopped visiting after he kill the wife so I just assumed she was the ghost

But wouldn’t he have recognized her when he saw her face before he killed her?

but also, if he was deranged and love-sick and on cocaine/ other drugs as said at the end, he probably wouldn’t care, and would’ve only taken the ghost for an answer!

Ngl this is a very interesting story

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Tags: In My Room Insane Clown Posse Mike P. Shaggy 2 Dope The Wraith: Hell’s Pit Violent J

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The Tower

September 30, 2021

 by Amanda London · Published September 30, 2021

clown and ghost meaning

Song Meanings & Facts

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IMAGES

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