As a society, we typically prefer our murder clowns to be an opt-in experience. (This is what makes Arthur T. Joker such a terrifying force, in addition to his ability to metastasize across our entire Twitter timeline in the course of a single afternoon.) That would-be optional nature is at the heart of a complaint lodged in Australia this week, with parents requesting that the country’s Ad Standards board (a self-regulatory agency) order the removal of billboards featuring prominent images of It: Chapter Two’s resident chucklekiller Pennywise, and specifically from places where their kids might end up seeing them.
And on the one hand, we have to ask: Won’t someone think of the billboard industry, please? Years out from its Oscar-winning heyday, and facing constant hounding from Big Bus Ad, we have to assume that those tireless workers don’t need any more hassle from parents, just because they don’t want their kids screaming awake with clown-based nightmares every single night. There’s also the tried-and-true “A little traumatic imagery never hurt anybody” argument, which is why we can definitely watch that episode of The Simpsons with the clown bed whenever we want without crying, just see if we don’t.
But also, it’s not hard to see the parents’ point, since we’re pretty sure that imagery like this would have sincerely fucked us up:
(And the fact that the previous sentence would have been banned from display, for profanity, while the images wouldn’t, is just one of those fun little quirks of censorship.)
Anyway, this is unlikely to see much of a movement, since “spooky” is a way harder thing to judge than “violent” or “obscene.” But hey, here’s a quote from one of the kids in question, just so we can all feel equally like crap for a second about the scary picture now lodged permanently in her mind:
I get really scared because it’s hard to go to bed when you have a scary picture in your mind. Before I go to bed, I have to check the whole room. And when I finally go to bed I will wake up after a nightmare.