IT has been one of the most contentious issues of old-school pop culture ever asked about: Have clowns always been scary or is that the result of stories featuring creepy clowns? Most children and some adults would insist on the former, while others might say that the fear sprang from perversions of the white-faced red-smile clown imagery to deliberately cause fear. One remembers the rash of creepy clown sightings in 2016, while this year the suspect is an upcoming horror film remake of one of Stephen King’s novels, “It.” Whatever the case, clowns are back to being seen as avatars of scariness, and real pros in the clown industry are very mad again about it.

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Infamous creepy clown

It,” published as a book in 1986 and adapted as a mini-series in 1990, tells the story of a group of pre teens who must confront an evil shape-shifting entity that appears in their small town every few decades.

Said thing, called “it,” can assume forms that plague on its victims’ deepest fears, the most prominent of them being the archetypal creepy clown named Pennywise. Pennywise is portrayed in the new film from Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema by Bill Skarsgård, and his hair-raising malevolence in early trailers have once again stirred fear and hostility toward real-life clowns.

The ire of professional clowns towards the tarnishing of their image was first directed at Stephen King himself as early as April. The legendary horror writer said in his Twitter that “The clowns are pissed at me.” He defends his work and the upcoming adaptation by stressing the notion that all people have always been scared of clowns, a statement that the World Clown Association wants to clarify by making a distinction between real “funny” clowns and the subversive scary clowns.

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Clowns speak up

A statement from the World Clown Association website makes a comparison of the “It” creepy clown in the stock character of a psycho doctor for a “haunted house” scenario. While a psycho doctor may be dressed like a doctor (albeit carrying bloody surgical tools), the WCA says an audience should understand that it is a fictional evil character, with no similarity to professional physicians in real life. “In the same way, people dressed as horror clowns are not 'real clowns.'” They went on. “They are taking something innocent and wholesome and perverting it to create fear in their audience."

Pam Moody, president of the WCA, asks the public not to draw a commonality between real professional clowns and fictional entities like Pennywise from “It,” the film of which is set to premiere on September 8. Already film experts are viewing it (no pun intended) in a better light than another Stephen King adaptation, Columbia Pictures’ “The Dark Tower.”