What’s behind the mask? Hard to interpret - GulfToday

What’s behind the mask? Hard to interpret

Mask

Picture shown is for illustrative purposes only.

I hadn’t realise that there was such a thing as a ‘clown association’. We have heard of various business associations, social associations, trade associations, publishers associations, health associations and even Parent Teacher Associations but clowns are a new one to me. But Japan has just this. It’s actually within a hospital where clowns periodically put on a show online for sick children to cheer them up.

I actually found this story quite baffling because, let’s face it, clowns can indeed be funny but, when they’re not in a circus, they can also be quite creepy and, more importantly, a little bit scary, especially to children. But, not only to children. Many adults too have a clown phobia, also known as ‘coulrophobia’, which is an irrational fear of clowns.

Most phobias are labelled irrational but that label is very unfair because the phobia is not irrational to the person suffering from it. And to be frank, in the case of clowns the fear has less to do with the clown profession and more to do with the mask. Many horror shows about supernatural killers depict clowns as their main villain. He’s lurking behind books in libraries or behind doors stalking his victim. Then after his kill, the clown disappears leaving behind his costume, mask or wig on the floor by his victim.

Now clowns are meant to be funny characters whose main profession was to make us laugh…at circuses. They were the fill-in act between the main acts and that’s where we were first introduced to them as children. They’d do their slap-stick comedy, including riding in and out of the ring in tiny cars and ‘accidentally’ tipping buckets of fake water (that actually contained confetti) over the audience. But as we grew older various books told us that even though clowns always seemed to be smiling (as can be seen from the clown makeup) deep down they were sad and disturbed individuals. Maybe that’s true or maybe it’s not. I mean that story could just be a ruse for writers to cook up juicy ideas for their own horror shows.

But many people have taken this sad or creepy clown idea and used it to scare the pants off people in real life. A couple of years ago, many motorists on quiet roads in America reported seeing clowns in full costume charging at their vehicles or simply standing in the middle of the road carrying a machete and staring at their oncoming car. Regardless of whether or not they meant any harm, I think it was supposed to be just one big practical joke but I assure you the motorists did not find their antics funny. Many were so scared that they reported them to the local police and the multiple incidents ended up on mainstream media.

To me the creepiest thing about any clown is the fact that his full makeup and costume hide his actual face. We don’t know what he really looks like. His real identity is fully hidden behind an elaborate mask and that’s where the fear of the unknown comes in. For example, if you’re talking to someone online or on the phone and they begin to sound creepy. I guarantee you will be more fearful of them because you don’t know what they look like. When you have an image of them, it’s easier to deal with your fear and them.

Masks, in general, are creepy. That’s why many use them in movies to conceal the identity of the arch nemesis to evoke fear in the audience. Remember the movies ‘Scream’, ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ and ‘V for Vendetta’? They all have one thing in common. Throughout the movie, we don’t know what the masked man looks like. In some cases we never find out. If we knew what the actors in any of these movies looked like we wouldn’t have been so scared.

A few years ago I was spooked by what I saw in my rear view mirror. I was on my way to work here. I stopped at a set of traffic lights and when I looked in my rear view mirror I was shocked to see that the driver in the car behind me was wearing a peculiar mask. I was a little rattled and when the lights changed I stepped on the accelerator and quickly turned right to get away from him. I don’t know who he was nor did I hear of anyone reporting that they’d seen a masked man driving a car.

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