10 Things You Never Knew About Pennywise

3. Pennywise Symbolizes Social Anxiety

Pennywise Tim Curry
Warner Bros.

In 2013, residents in Northampton, England, reported seeing a “creepy clown” similar to Pennywise who proceeded to terrorize the city for a month. It was later revealed to be a prank dreamed up by a trio of local filmmakers, but it was a taste of things to come.

Following similar sightings in Italy, Canada and Australia, clowns became a phenomenon in late 2016, with sightings and attacks reported in nearly every US state. “The clowns are p**sed at me,” Stephen King wrote on Twitter. “Kids have always been scared of clowns. Don’t kill the messengers for the message.”

While The Guardian wondered if it might be a publicity stunt for either Rob Zombie’s 31 or Andres Muschietti’s forthcoming adaptation of It, author Benjamin Radford offered a more plausible explanation while publicizing his book Bad Clowns.

“These sorts of panics tend to surface when there’s underlying social anxiety,” he told CNN. “This is an election year, there’s lots of political and ideological divisions, there’s also of course school shootings and terrorist attacks.”

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Ian Watson is the author of 'Midnight Movie Madness', a 600+ page guide to "bad" movies from 'Reefer Madness' to 'Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead.'