Tag Archives: clowns

Reflections On My Final Visit To “The Greatest Show On Earth”

The Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus will bring down its metaphorical Big Top for the final time in May. Its business model simply does not work any more, as an executive of the arena entertainment company that owns it said recently—especially since the circus capitulated to animal rights activists and fired its performing elephants. (Ticket sales dropped by almost a third.) This was an iconic cultural institution vanishing, so I had to say farewell, and did so last weekend, when the circus came to Washington, D.C. for the final time.

Observations:

1. It is still an entertaining show, even though  the Ringling brothers would never have recognized it as a circus. Several of the acts were worth the ticket price (in our cases, about 75 bucks) all by themselves.

2. The Verizon Center was about a third filled for the final show of the legendary Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus. The Center itself was sparsely staffed; it took 20 minutes in line to buy popcorn. Americans, as a group, don’t care about history, culture and significant changes in it landscape any more. The circus and its components gave us imagery, lore, metaphors—“walking a tight rope,” “three ring circus,” (this one is now a two-and-a half ring circus at best), “ringmaster,” “dog and pony show,” “the big tent,” “side-shows,” “clown act,” —and “The Man on the Flying Trapeze.” The nation is a little poorer and less colorful without it.

3. The public also increasingly sees little value in the mass audience experience. Live entertainment, especially family friendly varieties, were traditionally seen as an important and natural way to strengthen community ties, by bonding disparate members of society through a shared experience involving witnessing something transforming and memorable.

4. Assisting in the death of this experience is the trend of making sure all arena and stadium events  are filled with loud, never-ending, pounding electronic music that would make Phil Specter grab ear plugs. Once,  the circus’s dramatic  music consisted of drum rolls, bands and soft calliopes. If you watch the Cecil B. DeMille movie “The Greatest Show On Earth,” you will see spectators talking to each other during the acts, or shouting out to performers. Either is virtually impossible now. Conversation consists of screaming a few words repeatedly until your companion nods. This continues the cultural trend of making meaningful interaction with fellow human beings passe. How can this possibly be a healthy development for society?

I did see a lot of people texting….maybe to those sitting next to them.

5. Almost no venders were walking among the seated. A single snow cone from one of these cost $12.00.

6. This is how unintended cultural pollution takes place. The conglomerate that owns the circus also owns various ice shows, like Disney on Ice. To cut costs, it decided to employ performers from the ice shows in the circus too, meaning that instead of a sawdust path around the rings, the track around the performing areas are ice. Everyone is on skates half the time. It isn’t a bad effect: it’s faster than the old-style parades. But now the circus is an ice show. Continue reading

35 Comments

Filed under Animals, Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Childhood and children, Family, History, Humor and Satire, language, Marketing and Advertising, Popular Culture

More Clown Ethics: The County That Banned Bozo

bozo

An alternate title was “The County Run By People So Ignorant Of The Constitution That They Think You Can Tell People How To Dress And Who Will Be Easy Pickings When The Democrats Decide To Ban What They Decide Is “Hate Speech,” but I thought it was a little too long.

The mass Ethics Dunce in question is Mississippi’s Kemper County, which in response to the evil clown hysteria embarrassing the nation almost as much as the evil Presidential candidates hysteria, enacted a clown ban this week, forbidding people from dressing as clowns until after Halloween. Anyone caught in public wearing a clown costume, mask or makeup will face a $150 fine.

This is, of course, ironic, since any elected officials voting for such a ban are, by definition, clowns themselves.

County supervisors president Johnny Whitsett justified this overly broad law and per se violation of the Constitution as a matter of public safety because, he said, people “could react badly if they get scared by a clown in their yard.” Wait: how does my wearing clown shoes and a red nose in my yard scare someone in their yard?

Boy, I can’t wait until I am retired, rich, and at leisure to go down to future Kember Counties and get arrested for being dressed like Bozo.

In these tiny, trivial, stupid examples of elected officials proving themselves ignorant of our rights and protections are the seeds of the destruction of American liberty.

Meanwhile, non-government entities, which are legally free to reject the principle of free expression but not ethically free to get away with it, at least on this little corner of the Internet, have revealed their own censorious clown DNA. Target, for example, has removed clown masks from its stores and website. “Given the current environment, we have made the decision to remove a variety of clown masks from our assortment, both in stores and online,” the Big Box chain announced through a spokesman.

This is consistent with the current reasoning of the increasingly totalitarian left on guns and other commodities, that if a small minority of citizens abuse a product or right, the rest of us have to do without. Again, I look forward to my future career as the Ethics George Soros, funding nation-wide Scary Hair Dryer User  hoaxes to see if Target will ban hair dryers too.

9 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Law & Law Enforcement, Marketing and Advertising, Rights, U.S. Society

Coulrophobia Ethics: The Irresponsible Clown Dad

There has been an outbreak of coulrophobia (fear of clowns) for some reason, heightened by pranksters and web satirists taking advantage of one of our periodic societal freakouts as Halloween approaches:

  • Hundreds of students at Penn State set out to hunt clowns this week after rumors that clowns were loose on campus, chanting”Fuck the clowns!”
  • A dorm was evacuated at Merrimack College in North Andover, Massachusetts, after the “Clown Watch” Twitter feed reported a sighting of a scary clown with a rifle. It was a hoax. 
  • In Portland, Oregon, police arrested David Dahlman, 55, for wearing a clown mask and boxing gloves and threatening middle schoolers. This clown charged an assistant principal who intervened.
  • A 13-year-old girl was arrested in Hampton, Virginia., for trying to get a person posing as a clown online to kill one of her teachers. 
  • A 14-year-old boy in Houston was charged with making terrorist threats toward his school using an online clown image.
  • Also this week, several hundred University of Connecticut students  gathered in a cemetery near midnight, ready to do battle with the evil clowns they had heard were hiding among the headstones. Police had to respond, and were not amused.
  • Police in  Lancaster, California warned that men wearing “ugly-looking clown masks” were using kitchen knives to frighten people and then videotaping their reactions.
  • Menacing clowns sightings were also reported in Modesto,  prompting police there to issue a warning to residents saying, “If you see anything or anyone suspicious, including individuals dressed as clowns, to avoid contact and report the circumstances to us immediately.”

Fear of clowns has been a cultural joke for decades. “Seinfeld” had whole storylines based on Kramer’s coulrophobia.Why is this happening now? I have no idea, and neither does anyone else, though CNN came up with five equally unsatisfying theories. Why? Why do birds suddenly appear every time you are near? Why do fools fall in love? Why isn’t Hillary ahead by 50 points?

As long as the fad and its manifestations are in good fun and don’t endanger anyone, there’s nothing to be concerned about, though Stephen King felt compelled to try to calm the madness:

king-tweet(This is rich coming from King, who created the creepiest clown in literature as the villain of his novel “It.”)

Unfortunately, there are always those whose ethics alarms don’t ring. In Auburn, Massachusetts,  a father who followed his child’s school bus from the bus stop, wearing a scary clown mask. The middle school students in the bus were reportedly terrified. He was charged with disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace. Continue reading

12 Comments

Filed under Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Humor and Satire, Law & Law Enforcement

Ethics Dunce: Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas)

That's Rep. Stockman on the right, naturally...

That’s Rep. Stockman on the right, naturally…

I told you the rodeo clown mess was an Ethics Train Wreck!

Heck, it seems like everything is an Ethics Train Wreck or getting close to one these days…the NSA, Egypt, San Diego, the New York Yankees, life…

I need a vacation.

Now Texas Republican rep Steve Stockman has come aboard by making the obnoxious, simple-minded and inherently offensive gesture of inviting the unfairly banned clown to perform his classy act at a Texas rodeo. Undignified, unprofessional, cheap, nasty, and stupid…I’m sure I left out some equally accurate descriptors. This is like George Zimmerman in miniature. Is it really so hard to understand that protesting unfair treatment of someone need not, and in some cases should not, be accompanied by affirmative endorsement…and that’s what the invitation by Stockman is. Is he really so dense that he doesn’t realize that? Or is he really such a hyper-partisan, unstatesmanlike boor that he thinks it’s responsible and appropriate for a member of Congress to express his approval of an entertainer who called the President of the U.S. a clown and invited a crowd to cheer at his metaphorical abuse by a bull, some of whom were undoubtedly motivated by bigotry?

I really don’t care. Stockman’s stunt is ethically objectionable on a grand scale, and either he, the House, Republicans, or preferably all three owe President Obama an apology. One would think a Congressman would understand that there are different standards for the high elected officials responsible for our laws and rodeo clowns. But toward the bottom of the ethical and intellectual barrel we call the Republican Party (God, I certainly hope it’s toward the bottom!), this is apparently untrue.

Rep. Stockman is more clown than statesman.

_________________________________

Facts: Washington Post

Graphic: Google+

16 Comments

Filed under Ethics Dunces, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Leadership, Race

Clown Act: The Dumbest Ethics Train Wreck Of All

deluxe-barack-obama-mask

I had hoped that I wouldn’t have to write about this.

Unfortunately, the saga of the Obama-mocking rodeo clown has, against my fervent hopes, turned into a full-fledged ethics train wreck. The diagnosis was complete once the Missouri chapter of the NAACP decided to disgrace itself, its parent organization’s mission and its supposed dedication to civil rights by calling for a Secret Service investigation into the incident, which Ken White posted on definitively here.

The Horror: someone mocked the President!  And because this President is black, and because his supporters have continually tried to use his pigmentation  (which should have no impact whatsoever on how he is treated, respected and judged, which is to say, like every other President) to shield him from unrestrained criticism, opposition, responsibility, accountability and satire, a crude comedy act in a setting where crude comedy is  the norm (a rodeo is hardly the Algonquin Round Table) has been turned into a full-fledged exercise in chilling political speech by intimidation. Continue reading

26 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Popular Culture, Race, U.S. Society

A Ken White Sampler

Obama maskFor those readers who are not familiar with Popehat’s Ken White, I offer this recent example of his deft ethics analysis and his perceptive and balanced commentary. I was going to write something that would have reached similar conclusions, but there is no point now. I can’t do better than this, and when I can do as well, it’s a good day.

Here is Ken’s commentary on the rodeo clown in the Obama mask.

16 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Citizenship, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Race