The internet is wild!
Image via Warner Bros.
For those unaware, "confession Tumblr" is basically a holding place for collaborative diaries—a spot where teens can draft a short, lovelorn passage, submit it to an anonymous lockbox, and have it immortalized on a blog for all to see a few days later. Most confession Tumblrs focus on, like, Ed Sheeran and One Direction—celebrities specifically designed to mine as much teen aphrodisia as possible. You know, a private place to wax poetic about Harry Styles's tattoos.
Of course, the Pennywise Confessions Tumblr is a little bit different. After IT was released in theaters, the blog appeared in the bowels of the internet as the go-to place to voice any and all prurience for Pennywise the Dancing Clown—that awful fucking monster at the center of Stephen King's IT universe. This is strange, because Pennywise generally seems like a really, really upsetting person to be intimate with. In the film, he bites off children's limbs with his shark-like teeth and speaks in an awful high-pitched keen. And yet...
"I want Pennywise to sneak into my bedroom at night, hold me down by my throat, and fuck me while staring down at me with those crazy yellow eyes." This is one of the first confessions uploaded to the blog.
"Imagine Pennywise knowing you have a kink for body horror and fucks you with his rows of teeth shown, maybe sunk into your shoulder, and his claws ripping into the bed beneath you," reads another, posted the same day.
You get the idea. The Pennywise Confessions Tumblr is the epicenter of a radical new genre of projected kink—a chance to find solidarity in the fellow men and women lusting over a horrible, no-good murder clown. The owner of the Tumblr is a 25-year old from Hawaii we'll call Sarah, and she says she started developing sexual feelings for Pennywise shortly after leaving the theater. "I left feeling inexplicably attracted to the character. When I got home, I explored the tags on Tumblr and was thrilled to see I wasn't the only one feeling this way," she says. "I noticed there was a lot of backlash against the attraction, so decided to create a 'safe space' for people to divulge their feelings."
If you've been online in the wake of It's mind-boggling, record-breaking $123.1 million opening weekend, you've probably caught wind of some version of this conversation. A search for "I want to fuck Pennywise" on Twitter and Google reveals a gristly debate between people who are extremely down for some phantasmagoric clown-boning, and others who consider the thought to be the final failures of a civilization too far gone on memes and cynicism. And to be clear, there are plenty of people advocating for such a transparently horrifying hypothetical scenario because they think it's funny and edgy. Sarah says she does get a lot of troll submissions in her inbox, and she takes it upon herself to weed them out.
"I generally go by the rule of, if it's entirely outrageous or it makes me laugh, it's likely a troll," she says. "If I may share a quick example: 'I want Pennywise to go balls deep while staring down at me with those dead goldfish eyes,' is something I would classify as a troll confession. First of all, it made me laugh, and second it's poking fun at the character. Still, I could be wrong!"
Maybe this all sounds weird to you, but is it really that shocking that a community of people have found something lascivious in Pennywise? Horror icons have been recontextualized as sex symbols as far back as Dracula. Hell, the Babadook is a queer icon despite being a transdimensional eldritch horror. The internet obviously makes finding like-minded kinksters easier, but the fetishization of Pennywise isn't anything new. "It's really no surprise people are taking the initiative to sexualize [horror movie villains] even without implicit undertones in a specific film," says Sarah. "Contrasting strength and danger against the innate fragility of humanity is apparently something that fascinates filmmakers and fans alike."
In fact, it's not completely clear that Pennywise's newfound sexual agency is unintentional. As many have noted, Bill Skarsgård, the man who plays Pennywise, is genuinely striking—or "hot" as both Entertainment Weekly and, um, Business Insider put it. (E! Online went a step further, calling him "hot AF.") He has cheekbones, nice lips, and a runway-ready sense of style, and Sarah notes his natural handsomeness might account for "a portion of the people who are finding themselves puzzlingly attracted to Pennywise." Tim Curry is a genius, but he brought a scummier Krusty the Clown tactility to his performance in the 1990 IT TV miniseries. It might sound strange, but the new Pennywise is better looking.
As such, folks like Rebecca Jane Stokes, senior sex and love writer at yourtango.com, have written about how their unwavering attraction to Skarsgård persisted, even as he was murdering children on the screen. Over email she noted that the original Stephen King novel was always a little psychosexual, especially when you consider the teen orgy scene which was unsurprisingly cut from the film adaptation. "It would make sense to cast someone with any kind of appeal in the [Pennywise] role," says Stokes. "You've got to be compelling and charismatic to a certain extent to lure kids into your floating sewer hellscape."
Who knows how much longer the Pennywise Confessions Tumblr will stay active. Like most fads, the fascination surrounding IT will eventually die out, and the world will find another Boschian horror-show to fantasize about. But for now, people like Sarah will continue to enjoy their favorite demon-clown. In a few years, the second chapter of the IT franchise will hit theaters. Most of us will get another horrifying journey to the depths of hell, and a few others will get some more material for their sexy fan fiction. The best of both worlds, really.
"Someone on Tumblr said something to the effect of: 'The truth is people have always wanted to fuck monsters,'" says Sarah. "'Filmmakers are just finally getting smart about it.'"
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