SNP’s word of the day: Coulrophobia

Illustration by Lewis Mirrett

Illustration by Lewis Mirrett

Word: Coulrophobia

Meaning: The abnormal fear of clowns.

Usage: “In discussions of causes of coulrophobia, [most] seem to agree that the most fear-inducing aspect of clowns is the heavy makeup which, accompanied by the bulbous nose and weird color of hair, completely conceal the wearer’s identity.” —

You should know it because: David Lynch‘s solo album (you read that right) is out today, and because the world’s most Lynchian director just can’t help himself, he’s given it the most simplistically creepy name in the world: Crazy Clown Time. Dear god. As if the man hasn’t already been scaring kidults since Eraserhead. “Most of its material is what you might expect from an album made by David Lynch: tense, repetitive bluesy music permeated by reverb and echo,” writes Pitchfork, accurately. Karen O sings on a few tracks—notably the opener, “Pinky’s Dream,” which is really the only song you need to listen to. You’ll get the point.

But, really, this is one of Lynch’s more populist efforts. Nobody really understands Mulholland Drive (or perhaps it’s that everybody understands it and that every interpretation of it can be true, like it’s the Bible, or a dream), but everybody “gets” coulrophobia. So much so, I think, that the above definition of “coulrophobia” is misleading: what’s abnormal about fearing clowns? It’s inherently creepy, twisted even, for adults to look that happy. John Wayne Gacy, the serial killer, worked as a clown part-time. Joker is the scariest thing about Batman. John Galliano liked clowns, and we all know how that turned out… Clowns haunt Halloween rides at Disneyland and horror movies from Clownhouse to Stephen King‘s It to The Devil’s Rejects. This year, there’s a horror movie coming out about a dad who gets his kid a clown suit for a birthday party, only to find out it carries an evil curse that turns its wearer into a serial killer. It’s just called… Clown. We’re not even trying anymore.