In a stark reminder of the ugly bigotry still faced by clowns today, the Russian division of Burger King has called upon its government to ban the movie It, arguing that the film functions as subtle advertising for McDonald’s because Pennywise is “an exact copy” of Ronald McDonald. Newsweek reports that the complaint was filed last week with Russia’s Federal Anti-Monopoly Service, lodged by unapologetic bigots who seem to think all murderous clowns look alike.
Pennywise—a manifestation of pure evil who lures innocents to their death through kid-friendly packaging, and whom the fast-food giant tellingly refers to as “the protagonist”—stands accused of copying the McDonald’s mascot’s “color range” and use of balloons. To be fair, there are some superficial similarities: Both Pennywise and Ronald have white faces, red hair, and red lips. Both surround themselves with visions of your darkest nightmares: giant spiders and abusive fathers, purple genetic horrors and burglars of ham. Both believe that frightened flesh simply tastes better.
And yet, correlation doesn’t always translate to cause; for example, it is patently ludicrous that a deranged clown would somehow prove influential on Russia, even if the reverse happens to be true. As such, the FAMS doesn’t appear to be taking its investigation too seriously, saying it will only look into whether It contains any actual examples of product placement, and adding that it can’t concern itself with the film’s content “because the writer and director have their own creative understanding of any character.” It’s a commendably progressive stance, one that recognizes each clown is beautifully unique in appearance and degree of homicidal intent.
At the moment, It continues to play in more than 100 Russian movie theaters where it’s been since September 7, and Burger King continues to employ a walking death mask.