For anyone who suffers from a fear of clowns, November’s election has either cured you or made your phobia worse than ever. Having someone so comically ill-prepared and uninformed in the White House is a nonsense so profound that its depths are hard to fathom, let alone plumb for humor. But one Brooklyn-based art collective is taking a crack at it anyway, and largely succeeds with this weird new video called “Neck Ruffle.”
Inspired by America’s current nightmare, CHERYL‘s “Neck Ruffle” is a thoroughly absurd pantomime that features a bunch of glittery clowns who, after discovering the results of November’s election, go around rescuing apoplectic citizens who are lying, rather poetically, half-buried in piles of dead leaves, clutching newspapers with headlines about Donald Trump.
Once resuscitated, they are jostled into jocundity by the clowns, then covered in streamers, glitter and shaving cream. The clowns do a dance in front of the American flag in front of a bandshell in front of a rainbow. And since IRL Donald Trump would have something to say about such a display of creative expression against him, a familiar orange-faced clown sidles up to the party mid-way through the video. When the Trump clown gets a finger-wagging from his critics, he quickly tweets: “Rejected by clowns. Very unfair!”
At the end of the video, a verboten symbol is plastered across the orange clown’s face, followed by the message: “Embrace clown power. Fight back.”
While we’re not exactly sure what “clown power” is — based on what we saw, it looks like it may have something to do with search-and-rescue efforts in the woods — the video sure does a good job of shaking you awake, if only temporarily, from the nightmare we’re living in. It’s hard not to crack a smile at this dizzying kaleidoscope of clownish antics, especially since it shows us a viable, if absurd, way out of what we’re feeling.
The video was made as a promo for CHERYL’s upcoming costumed dance party of the same name, Neck Ruffle, which is coming up this Saturday (Dec. 10) at C’mon Everybody in Bed-Stuy. The event page helps clarify the video somewhat, and includes a statement from CHERYL about clown power:
“Remember that powerful clowns exist, and are ready to serve you at your darkest moments.”
If the thought of archetypal circus clowns still inspires a shudder of fear, CHERYL asks that you check yourself with a reminder of what’s actually happening in America. It’s much scarier than anything you imagined clowns doing as a kid. Plus, the ones in “Neck Ruffle” are clearly as terrified of Trump as we are. And maybe the “power” we’re meant to embrace is that of the clown’s unique ability to re-tool his own fear into big league (sp?) humor, and turn it back on his enemies with a smile.
I hope Trump is afraid of clowns.
Embrace Sam on Twitter: @ahoysamantha