Chucko the Digital Clown

Chucko the Clown died last weekend. And while that may seem to be pretty minor news compared to the crumbling Vatican and the sequestering U.S. Government, the untimely passing of a man named Randy Runyon brought an end to Chucko. According to the LA Times, Runyon entertained audiences in Southern California for more than a decade as Chucko, the clown character he took over from his father in the 1980s. He was just 57 when he died, and had retired Chucko years before. Still, the official end of Chucko left me with mixed feelings. The sad story represented the symbolic closure to something simultaneously creepy, innocent, scary and goofy.

Like newspapers and cigarettes, clowns are a thing of the clinging, cloying past. There’s no longer room for spinning hats and creepy birthday song routines, overly large shoes and facepaint. There’s even a phobia named for it: Coulrophobia. And the truth is, there’s actually a bit to be leery of: the ghoulish makeup, the horrifically exaggerated features, the posturing, the preening, and the stumbling. And there’s also that whole itinerant dude-needs-a-job thing that just feels so darn lurid and smoky.

Yet despite it all, clowns are still out there, selling up birthday parties and trying to squeeze some chuckles out of four-year-olds. They’re with us in the digital world, as well, spouting stupid jokes and overusing social media. Clowns share brand pages. Chuckos post and share and comment an incessant stream of political memes and links.

Please – just stop that. Don’t be a Digital Chucko.
Refrain from posting — again — about how that little boy needs 1 million likes in order to get a new brain. And stop with the female attitude cards. Everyone knows you don’t drink and you usually pass out by 8 pm. The last time you drank Tequila was that forgettable college trip to Mexico when the bartender turned you upside down and shook you like a doll. And yes, we want to know that you’re a creationist. But you don’t need to remind us 57 times a day. Just when it’s relevant, and when it feels right.

As if it will matter — sadly, unlike Chucko of television fame, the digital clowns around us are still here, hooting and shouting and getting in our feeds. I guess that’s the trouble with clowns — digital or otherwise — they just don’t know when to stop smoking.

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