Why is Pennywise a monster?
We would all be lying if we said that a creepy clown did not scare us in just the slightest way. Although clowns have reached a certain extent in the popularity of horror films, like vampires and werewolves, they are uniquely horrifying beings. From Stephen Kings novel, Tim Curry’s iconic performance in the 1990 television mini series, to Bill Skarsgard performance in Andy Muschietti’s film adaptation, the movie IT and its supernatural horror genre has become manifested in our fears for years. Regardless of the different adaptations this movie has chosen, the consistent through line is based off the ungodly, shape shifting manifestation of our most primitive fears, otherwise known as Pennywise the clown. This evil being is an ancient creature, which feasts on human flesh, as fear makes humans taste better. This clown feeds off of children because their fears are so pure, simple, and powerful. Pennywise has many powers besides shape shifting, this horrifying creature is able to manipulate people into performing violent actions, can create illusions, the most popular being the floating red balloon, is able to become invisible, can read minds within proximity, and basically can control and manipulate anything and anyone (It, 2017).
Cultural significance/ relation to course content
No one really knows where this mysterious and malevolent being comes from, however, it is understood that Pennywise may come from an unknown realm or dimension outside of the regions of space. This dancing thing came to Earth to feed off of humans, and continuously morphs into what we see as the eerie clown. Possibly being billions of years old, Pennywise comes from this place known as the Macroverse, and considers his home a place called the Deadlights. Pennywise first fed in a town called Derry, Maine and comes about every twenty-seven years to feed and torment children before returning to his hibernation period (It, 2017). Pennywise was one of the first clown’s to be portrayed in a disturbing sense. Popular culture is something that is widely favored by many people within a certain environment, it is considered the mass culture and originates from the people. Stereotypes and myths are often embedded in our minds within popular culture, whether we are conscious of them or not. IT is supposedly a myth, as a myth is defined as a “shared, social and collaborative story (Friedman, 2009).” It is an explanation of something inexplicable as Pennywise portrays a sort of nostalgia where individuals yearn for this creature before the universe or any scientific explanation was around, for example, Pennywise living in the Macroverse. Since a myth is shared and collaborative, it relates to popular culture because it requires active engagement amongst a large group of individuals. Pennywise and IT can relate to the cosmological function, explaining how this creature was formed in a parallel universe. Although Pennywise may have not been a scientific experiment gone wrong, it was developed through an inhuman force. An example of the clown influence and IT correlation within Canada and the United States, there were many creepy “killer” clown sightings in the years of 2016 and early 2017. I remember being in the gym at Laurier, seeing an individual dressed up as a clown outside of the window walking around. It was extremely terrifying as one of my most primal fears are clowns. There was another instant where my parents told me they saw a red balloon tied to the sewer outside of our home back in Toronto. At first, everyone believed that these clowns were implemented into society to promote the new 2017 IT movie remake, however, individuals involved within this type of popular culture may have taken it too far, ultimately beginning to assault individuals. There was an outbreak on social media as all of these clown sightings just grew larger and larger after each detection occurred. Popular culture and social media go hand in hand as people consume many things through the videos and posts on social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook. It shows how the masses of people knew what was going on through popular culture due to the popularity and marketing this IT movie was promoting.
There are also distinct characteristics and symbols associated with Pennywise, a couple include the red balloon and the constant morphing into a clown. These signifiers that are embedded into this monster relates to the study of semiotics, as the sign of the red balloon signifies negative feelings like danger, power, stop, and blood. The external appearance Pennywise continues to choose, being the dancing clown, signifies the attraction to children. It is often known that children are intrigued by clowns, often seeming like a friendly presence, luring children in.
What does Pennywise tell us about being human?
Pennywise consumes people that are consumed by fear. This monster is the embodiment of our most primal terrors as it tells us as humans that we cannot be ruled by our fears. History often articulates when people are driven by fear, this is often the fear of the unknown. Frequently individuals gain anxiety and a sense of fear when the do not understand something, when there is an unwanted mystery behind the larger picture. Fear is often all within a human’s mind, and by being able to overcome this, it is something this story promotes. Many of us have our own death anxieties, a healthy minded individual may say that this terror of death, is not part of our nature. We often are not born with this fear, we only become anxious about something when we have not been nurtured properly or have grown up with something that tells us to be scared. All in all, no matter how much we believe we fear something, this monster shows us that we will lose in the end if we let our fears take over. One must attempt to overcome their deepest anxieties to create a stronger, more balanced and pure mind.
It (creature). 2017. In Fandom. from http://stephenking.wikia.com/wiki/It_(creature)
Friedman, T. (2009). Myth, the numinous, ad cultural studies. In Flow Journal, Georgia State University, Atlanta: GA. Retrieved from, http://www.flowjournal.org/2009/08/myth-the-numinous-and-cultural-studies-ted-friedman-georgia-state-university-atlanta/