Do we need more clowns? Some say a rowdy fan army of “gentleminions” is evidence of our acute need for simple, happy clowns in the tradition of Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin. Chaos! All over the world, cinemas are facing a crisis that even the wildest imagination could never have seen coming: the rise of the gentleminions. Gentleminions dress up in their finest suits to watch the latest in the Despicable Me film series. They video themselves worshipping its adverts. Not all gentleminions come in peace, however. While the majority have been respectful of other filmgoers, some have caused disturbances by loudly imitating their beloved characters. It has led some cinemas to ban teenagers dressed in suits entirely. Others have set up dedicated showings just for gentleminions. The surprise trend has some people reflecting on the role that gentle tomfooleryFoolish or playful behaviour. plays in our societies. Clowns have been important throughout history. From the 16th to the 18th Century, they entertained huge crowds with a kind of theatre known as commedia dell’arte. They inspired the slapstick comedy of the early 20th Century. Comic legends like Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin channelled this theatrical tradition to bring laughter to millions of filmgoers. Characters in Monty Python and even The Simpsons are also based on commedia dell’arte figures. But jesters, or “Fools”, could also play a serious role. They were masters of telling truth to power in joking, ironic ways that would allow them to escape punishment. This meant they were sometimes the only people at Court who could give the monarch bad news. In 1340, the French fleet was destroyed by the English at the Battle of Sluys. Fearing the wrath of French king Philippe VI, courtiers sent the court jester to break the news to him. Yet clowns are not all fun and games. Around one in 10 people suffer from coulrophobia, a fear of clowns. In 2016, there was a spate of sightings of creepy clowns. Do we need more clowns? Media circus Yes: A bit of clowning about makes life seem more joyous and fun. But clowns also play a more serious role in our lives: they remind us to take risks, step into the unknown, and challenge authority. No: There is nothing profound about clowns. They are silly people who do silly things. And many people are absolutely terrified of them. Or… It is not more clowns that we need. Rather, we should all embrace a bit more clownery in our everyday lives. We should learn not to take things so seriously. KeywordsTomfoolery - Foolish or playful behaviour.
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Tomfoolery - Foolish or playful behaviour.