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The It Ghoul

By Adam Lyal, October 12, 2017 - 4:07pm
Pennylyal. Or Lyalwise. Whatever.

It has been a while (if ever) since your corpsish correspondent has ruminated upon matters of contemporary cinema (or the "wazzock's lantern" as it was affectionately known by people living centuries after my death), but a recent release has made it justifiable.

Just as the coulrophobes among us were beginning to recover from the original outing of America's second-best known homicidal clown back in 1990, the whole business is being dredged up again. In time we will, as we did the first time around, acknowledge that the object of our night-terrors is actually an extradimensional scorpion-crab-thing, not a true member of showmanship's possibly oldest and certainly most distinct subsect. However, right now, in the eye of the storm, it falls to those of us with an unjaundiced eye on the subject to try as best we may to mitigate the reputational damage our beloved jokers are all too likely to suffer.

Personal disclosure time: My portrayal by The Cadies & Witchery Tours had no direct conceptual input from me and, candidly, I found it a little ostentacious, even before it was pointed out that it rendered me somewhat similar in appearance to a certain other notable coffin-dodger.

That having been said, I recognise that the deceased are not the masters of their posterity. As such, my physical legacy on the streets of Edinburgh can only be a balm to the owner of a life that (I like to imagine) held promise unconceived or at least unesteemed by those who judged themselves eligible to curtail it on the basis of my relatively innocuous transgressions. I mean, highway robbery? Waving a gun in some one-percenter's face for a brief moment? You'd be unlucky to get six months for that these days.

And so we come to Pennywise The Clown. He (or more accurately, It) eats children (or even more accurately, magnifies their primal fears and eats those, which happens to leave the victim deceased in most cases). It is hard to dispute that this is bad behaviour, on balance. While I remain in disagreement with the death penalty, its actions do indisputably merit a slap on the wrist not too much less stern than that which I received. Thankfully, [SPOILER ALERT] some resourceful children took that dilemma out of the state's hands.

The crucial point, however, is that Pennywise was not really a clown. It was a giant star-born scorpion of distilled evil, which happened to choose the clown motif as its optimal gambit with which to lure unsuspecting youths into its snack-zone. Despite the film's producers acknowledging (when pressed) that this is all fiction anyway, the world's legitimate and hard-working clowns fear a backlash as a result of this negative publicity.

The clown is an archetype, and can never be owned by any person or commercial interest. It has seemingly spoken to the darker impulses in our culture of late, but it finds its roots in a maxim whose truth I hope we never forget: For every King, a Fool to be his mirror.

As a fellow consumer of "Clown White" theatrical cosmetics (What? You didn't think this pallour was simply achieved naturally by a mere two centuries of morbidity, did you?), I strongly urge you to look beyond the hype and recognise that the clown lurking beneath that tall tree at the end of your street is just a committed entertainer looking to bolster his/her repertiore with a nuance of sincerity. Okay, it might be a serial killer, or a Facebook-inspired troubled loner looking to make headlines in a manner they haven't thought through very carefully - but the odds of those are reassuringly low. And it almost certainly won't be a giant fear-sucking star-scorpion.

Sleep well, my children. And no, you can't have a balloon.