It appears I am not alone in casting clowns as positive rather than negative social forces. I have just discovered that “a New Zealand man facing the ax (sic) at work brought a support clown to his recent redundancy meeting…”.(New York Post). Which of course raises a rather important question. Which other figures that conjure fear might be summoned as supporters?
The Motorcycle Ganger (or similar)?
Certainly, the classic Western leather-and-stud clad motorcycle pack can make bystanders nervous. However—even leaving aside the reports of motorcycle clubs protecting children at risk of domestic abuse or riding more often with peaceful protesters than against them—modern romance novels (paranormal and gritty) have already made the muscles, tattoos, and other symbols evoke sexy misunderstood loners rather than antisocial thugs.
The Youthful Pawnbroker (or similar)?
Some jobs seem to resonate with older people. Pawnbrokers for example, seem most natural as older men living and working in a small cluttered shop; the image of a young man running such as shop conjures thoughts of criminality. Other tasks bear an equal weight of expectation: for example, cleaning antique watches feels like an older person’s craft, tainting the image of a young man doing it with thoughts that he might secretly be a serial killer obsessed with establishing the same order in people. However, the resurgence of crafting among hipsters, the economic brutality of capitalism, and other social forces have made old professions new or common again.
The Ageing Single Hotelier (or similar)?
Just as some roles seem made for the old, so some seem a young person’s game. Person behind the desk of a dingy motel at night is in their twenties? Image of a slacker. In their forties? Psycho or peeping tom. However, the West’s obsession with attractiveness as worth tinges them with weakness rather than strength: we can fear them but not from any sense they tap power.
No, for a role like that of the clown, one that could bring benefit but now summons unease, we must look to:
It is a self-evident truth that for a thing to be made or a task fulfilled, there must be a person who does it. Thus, a single worker can exist without a business but a business cannot exist without a worker. And thus, that the sole purpose of any other part of a business must be to remove obstacles from workers.
This task of taking away burdens is obvious in the smallest businesses: a worker adds an accountant so they can work rather than do accounts, and so forth. Yet, once a business reaches the point of having managers, this is lost behind a hierarchy.
Managers must become again the supporters they are most fit to be.
Not in some arbitrary inversion from capitalist ownership by the pinnacle of management to communist ownership by the workers, but in a more ancient sense. Just as the jesters and shaman who spoke uncomfortable or oblique truths exist now as clowns and comedians, so managers must invoke the monarchs who ruled for the land, having authority but subservient to the needs of those over whom they had it.
Unfortunately, while my Fears of a Clown project drew forth a great many powerful variations on the clown as positive force, I fear stories of managers as defenders of their employees would seem too implausible to pass reader judgement.