Culture /// Screens x
Is Pennywise really that scary? (Image via Den of Geek)

Hear me out here.

Stephen King is a literal mastermind. King has created horror-filled worlds and characters that left us with nightmares and fear-induced insomnia. I was never that into horror fiction, but Stephen King’s stories aren’t just scary — they are flawless.  So, I was surprised when I watched the new “IT” (2017) movie that it left me with millions of questions that I took upon myself to research as I procrastinated on all of my assignments.

Before I get into why I’m not a fan of Pennywise, let me say the movie was incredible. The plot and the production were both phenomenal, to say the least. The actors shone and the messages came across superbly. After leaving the theater, I immediately went on Pinterest to find Losers’ Club tattoo ideas.

However, that will not stop me from arguing that Pennywise is literally one of the most terrible villains of all time. Now, it is worth noting that like many other fans, I have not read “IT” the novel, so a lot of my fellow the-book-is-better-than-the-movie advocates may completely dismiss my accusation, but the truth is that I left the theater comparing Pennywise to Mojojojo from the “PowerPuff Girls,” and Pennywise barely won in comparison.

Why is Pennywise not that Scary?

Let’s start by acknowledging that this evil creature’s full name is Pennywise the Dancing Clown (what kind of surname is Dancing Clown?), but there is no real origin story as to why this killer clown is even a clown. What I don’t understand is that if this thing is a shapeshifter, why is it choosing a strange clown as its dominant form? Scary, sharp-toothed clown was a bit of a lazy choice.

Pennywise somewhat resembles Ronald McDonald, if Ronald McDonald was selling body parts instead of burgers. What is this entity’s fascination with clowns? If we compare him to present day villains, such as the Demogorgon from the Netflix series “Stranger Things” and fellow clown Twisty from the “American Horror Story” franchise, Pennywise isn’t really that creepy at all.

Continuing the topic of Pennywise’s character development, does this entity have any form of identity or gender? Doesn’t every great villain have a backstory? Even Disney villains have some sort of origin. Even the Ice King from “Adventure Time” had a very well thought out origin story. Most villains at least have goals in mind; villains typically have endgames. Pennywise doesn’t even have a plan.

Mr. Dancing Clown doesn’t want to take over this incredibly small town, much less the world. There isn’t any sort of revenge to be sought. Pennywise simply wants to eat (kids) and go back to sleep. He essentially has the mindset of a college student, but without the degree plan, less stress and more violence.

Next, how long has Pennywise been alive? Has Pennywise been lingering around since the beginning of time? Did Pennywise just sneak in while the earth was being created? How was he eating before mankind showed up, and why isn’t he still on that diet? If he was eating animals, why did he change? Are humans better for his body, although harder to get?

For me it was hard to believe that Pennywise has just been around for millions of years and suddenly the Losers’ Club shows up and he’s “defeated.” There isn’t anything abnormal about these children that makes them heroes, and they are only powerful if they join forces. Is it that hard to split up children?

Pennywise has been doing this for a gazillion years and still hasn’t figured out how to defeat multiple children at once? Now that I watched the movie, I could understand that courage is the basis of everything, and I’m super proud of these fictional children for standing up to this monster, but really, Pennywise? There was no way to scare these tweens?

Pennywise had no creativity; he picked the absolute most obvious scare choices. Personally, I would’ve been out as soon as he turned into a debt collector. There’s really no excuse for someone so powerful to be taken down by such a simple strategy of “sticking together.”

How Real is the Clown?

On the topic of the children and their fears, is Pennywise real or not? So, SPOILER ALERT, Georgie gets his arm totally ripped it off and then he dies. It shows that there is some realness to Pennywise. But is he only real if you believe in him? Can Pennywise be defeated a lot easier if people just ignore him?

Everyone knows he preys on children because they’re so much easier to terrify, but there is nothing more terrifying to a child than seeing their parents scared. I feel if Pennywise branched out on who he scared and how he scared them, he could get way more to eat. Can parents only see him if he allows them to? Do the kids only see their own version of things?

Furthermore, when the kids were attacked in the house, if the parents were able to see the effects, then why can they only see certain things? If adults hadn’t been able to see the blood from the bathroom scene, then why were they able to see the broken arm and the tattered clothing?  Can adults only see the more permanent effects? Whatever the case may be, it doesn’t seem like Pennywise is very real or at least hasn’t gotten the imaginary-vs-non-imaginary aspects of his tormenting down.

Finally, Pennywise isn’t much of a threat to these children. He should be the least of everyone’s problems. Henry is running around cutting kids and the parents are actually psychotic, so it’s no wonder these children aren’t afraid of Pennywise. All the kids need to do is to avoid sewers (which isn’t a problem for most people) and focus on their family drama.

Honestly, no one needs to worry about monster hunting: we need to be looking into child protective services. If you aren’t the biggest issue present in the lives of the people you are preying upon, then you aren’t really that scary of a villain.

All in all, Pennywise could take some tips from the modern-day villains. If nothing else, he’s been doing this for so long that I say he should just retire. It’s safe to say this type of story doesn’t make sense to some of us because we live in a time full of social media and search engines. There are so many gore videos on the internet that millennials have already turned half of the scenes from “It” into memes. People believe that Pennywise awakes every twenty-seven to thirty years, or after a horrible incident. Nowadays we have horrible acts of terror happening so frequently that Pennywise would literally never sleep. This isn’t the 1980’s and villains have been modernized and made more advanced in many ways.

Although many aspects surrounding Pennywise don’t make sense (to me at least), what he truly lacks in the art of villainy, he makes up for in his overall creepiness. A story doesn’t always have to make sense to be great, and perhaps not making complete sense makes the story all the more terrifying.

Writer Profile

Brandi Loving

St. Mary's University

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