Tea’s Weird Week switches this week from Fridays to every Thursday afternoon.
While working on my book Apocalypse Any Day Now, I researched zombies in pop culture. An interesting study from 2009, referenced in my book, laid out the data that shows we have more vampire themed movies and entertainment during Democrat administrations, while we get more zombies during Republican ones. The study tallied the number of movies found in both genres dating back to the Eisenhower administration, and the results were overall pretty consistent.
Think of the great 80s Reagan era zombie movies like The Return of the Living Dead (1985). In 2005 (Bush’s second term) there were 158 zombie movies (vs 74 vampire themed movies). Anne Rice was popular in the Clinton era, the Interview with a Vampire movie was huge in 1994. The big hits of the Obama administration were those wretched Twilight movies (2008-2012).
Here’s a link to the original study: http://www.mrscienceshow.com/2009/05/correlation-of-week-zombies-vampires.html Several other sites have examined the theory. HuffPost has a video with some visual highlights HERE.
Some of the noteworthy films that don’t fit the trend make sense if you correlate the source material: both the World War Z film and the hit show The Walking Dead were released during the Obama administration, but the source material (the 2006 book and 2003 comic series, respectively) was written in the Bush era.
I’ve read different interpretations of this study. One says the trend reflects the fears of the party in power– Democrats fear a vampire-like parasitic aristocrat, while Republicans fear a zombie revolt of the poor and disenfranchised. The other theory (which I lean towards) is that the films tap into subconscious fears about the party in power.
The Democrat vampires are suave and sophisticated but deceptive, kinky neck-sucking sex fiends, often times foreigners (Transylvania isn’t sending their best), which plays into liberalphobia. Conservatives, meanwhile, are viewed as the brainless masses, a hate mob of rotten rednecks shuffling through a Wal-Mart.
Enter a new animal, President Donald J. Trump. He’s not a Democrat, but he’s not a typical Republican either. As such, I think a new (perhaps one time) cycle has displaced the vampire/ zombie rotation: the killer clown.
“Wait til they get a load of me,” the Joker says in Batman (1989), but the quote could have easily come from Trump.
While working on my reoccurring #ClownWatch2019 segment for this column, where I mention any strange real-life clown sightings, I noticed there are an awful lot of killer clown movies lately, especially this fall. Over the past couple years we’ve gotten a fair share of the genre: American Horror Story: Cult (2017), which quickly made the Trump/killer clown connection, It (2017), the fantastic Green Bay produced Gags The Clown (2018), Rob Zombie’s clown murder mayhem movie 31 (2018) and many low budget entries.
Up next over the next month we’ll see the return of monster clown Pennywise in It Chapter 2 (which premieres tomorrow, Sept.6), the origin of killer clown Joker (Oct.4), and yes, we’ve finally arrived here…Clownado (Sept.17). That last title pretty much sums up today’s politics in one word. There’s several other low budget productions trying to catch the crest of the killer clown wave– Clownface, ClownDoll, and just Clown are just a few I found on IMDB with 2019 release dates.
These films, like vampire and zombie features, are playing to fears of our times. In this case, it’s of a monster who is stupidly reckless and dangerously unpredictable.
Like Pennywise, Trump has a wild clownado of orange hair. Note that Pennywise (and imitators) carries a red balloon the same color as Trump’s droopy, clownish tie or as a MAGA hat. Trump has a sleeve filled with dirty tricks and his administration is a clown car of chaos. Buying Greenland for a new secret lair, nuking a hurricane– clearly the mindset of a Joker. When Trump uses a “magic’ marker to defiantly insist that Alabama is in a hurricane zone when it isn’t, he hopes he can change reality, like a cartoonish clown drawing a door on a wall and then opening it to make a quick getaway.
Trump’s unhinged decision making on who to fire, who to threaten, and what diplomatic ties to sever are not of a politician or a businessman, but of a killer clown dancing and stabbing people in a haunted house.
It’s easy to laugh at his childish behavior, ranting and stomping his feet about everything from inauguration sizes to hurricane zones, but then comes the terror in realizing his full potential for disaster, an unfolding horror story.
Welcome to the clownpocalypse of our times.
My book Apocalypse Any Day Now got a nice, short review from Skeptical Inquirer. Thanks for believing in me, skeptics! They say:
“Krulos returns with another equally relevant and interesting look at the world of American survivalism, doomsday cults, religious prophets, and the like. The tone is more breezy than scholarly (with more than a few references to zombie apocalypses, for example) but the book offers insight into the mentality of conspiracy theorists and doomsday prophets.”
You can find the book here: www.chicagoreviewpress.com/ApocalypseAnyDayNow
Milwaukee Paranormal Conference is happening Sept.13-14: www.milwaukeeparacon.com
They are updating the Doomsday Clock tomorrow morning and I got to tell you, I don’t think it’s going to be good
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists is an organization and publication that was formed in 1945. The idea, basically– “oh shit we just created an atomic bomb and that might not have been such a great thing, so let’s keep tabs on where this is going.”
In 1947, the nerve-wracked scientists debuted the Doomsday Clock, a metaphorical visual aid to show just how close we are to nuclear annihilation. Some years the clock ticks forward to Doomsday (aka Midnight on the clock) and other years, to a sigh of relief, it falls back in time. Over the years, the organization has added other factors to consider, in addition to nuclear proliferation: climate change, bio-weapons, and cyber threats.
Here’s some Doomsday Clock highlights:
1947: Doomsday Clock debuts at 7 to Midnight
1953: 2 to Midnight, the closest to Midnight the clock has ever been. This is the year the H-bomb was created.
1991: 17 to Midnight. The end of the Cold War pushed the clock the furthest it’s ever been from Midnight.
2015: The clock ticks to 3 to Midnight. Only two other years chimed this close: 1949 (when the Arms Race was heating up) and 1984 (the height of the “mutually assured destruction” days of the Cold War.)
2016: The clock remains stuck at 3 to Midnight. It is, as the Bulletin notes “not good.”
You can see a longer timeline of the clock here: www.thebulletin.org/timeline
What will 2017 bring? I think it’s painfully obvious that tomorrow morning we will see the clock edge even closer to Midnight.
Let me give you just two quotes from the 2016 presidential campaign:
“I would bomb the shit out of ‘em. I would just bomb those suckers. That’s right. I would blow up the pipes…every single inch. There would be nothing left.”– Donald Trump on ISIS
“…carpet bomb them into oblivion. I don’t know if sand can glow in the dark, but we’re going to find out.”–Ted Cruz on ISIS
Just a small sample of things the Bulletin had to consider this year, in addition to other nuclear threats, and a new administration who believes bigly that climate change is a hoax and not a priority.
Tomorrow I will be up bright and early to grab donuts and coffee and watch the Doomsday roll in. The Doomsday Clock reveal and press conference will be live streamed at 9am CST here: clock.thebulletin.org and I will be tweeting out my reactions here: @TeaKrulos
Hold on to your butts.
The Apocalypse Blog explores the topics of Tea Krulos’s third non-fiction book, which is about doomsday predictions, prepping, and pop culture. It’ll be published in 2018 (if the world survives that long). His first two books, Heroes in the Night (2013) and Monster Hunters (2015) are available from Chicago Review Press here: http://www.chicagoreviewpress.com/krulos–tea-contributor-296670.php
People know me from a variety of different phases of my life. From roughly 1998-2006 I would say a major focus of my spare time was drawing. That was the dream, to be the next R. Crumb or Daniel Clowes or some new freakish grandmaster of cartooning. I drew hundreds of pages of comics and illustrations. They appeared in publications like the Milwaukee Orbit (long gone), Riverwest Currents (still around. The Comics Page, which I founded, is now 12 years old and has been edited by 5 different Milwaukee cartoonists), a wide variety of zines, flyers, etc. I edited a comic anthology called Riverwurst Comics, that was a lot of fun.
In 2006, I had a year of major transitions, some good, some bad. My paradigm shifted. I still enjoy drawing on occasion, but in that year I felt like my comics and my life in general was heading nowhere, the wheels were stuck, so I started writing instead. I think it was a good life choice.
One of the issues I had in my comic drawing life was that I had no patience and I had a frustratingly thin skin. A first round rejection was enough to kill an entire project for me. I would draw a comic, send it out somewhere, and with a rejection letter (or even just no response), I would scrap the idea without trying to present it anywhere else, no attempt to revise it. I would get pissed off and I would hate myself. If you want to get something published, I highly recommend you don’t act like this. You need to believe in yourself and keep trying.
Anyway, what follows is a comic I discovered while digging through a box of archives recently. I drew it in 2005, ten years ago. I submitted it to High Times magazine and got no reply, so stashed it in an archive. It has never been published anywhere. It is really stupid goofy, but it is my birthday, so I’m publishing it. It stars a stoner alligator character I invented, Hella Gator, and his girlfriend, Cat. In this comic he has a dream he where he encounters parodies of Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, psychic John Edward of Crossing Over w/ Aforementioned, Judge Judy, and a cameo by Potential Future President Donald Trump. Some things have changed since then– who has a satellite dish anymore? Steve Irwin is dead, John Edward has a different show, but Donald Trump’s hair still looks like a loaf of bread. I no longer find inspiration from smoking weed and watching basic cable (apparently the basis of this comic), but here is something that survives from that era.