In Defense of the Juggalos

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In Defense of the Juggalos
Nate "Igor" Smith

There's something to be said for non-conformity. We tend to think of non-conformist types as pioneers: free-thinkers, uninhibited by the expectations and opinions of others and unafraid to stand out in a crowd. We admire their courage and originality, and secretly wish we could be so brave. We've held many of these people up on a pedestal throughout human history, and as a society tend to think of their free-spirited nature as a virtue.

That is, unless those people are juggalos.

See also: Our complete Gathering of the Juggalos coverage

The word carries a near-exclusive negative connotation in non-juggalo circles. People deride the fans of the Insane Clown Posse and its related acts as unintelligent, white trash, criminals -- even as gang members, if you ask the United States government about it.

The last of those descriptions should be clearly seen, even by detractors, as completely ridiculous. To say that juggalos are a "gang" would imply that they are an organized criminal syndicate, complete with hierarchies and territories, constantly engaged in illicit activities. In reality, the group is largely a low-income bunch from rural communities across the Midwest (not exclusively, of course, but disproportionately so).

Many have struggled with an unstable home life and abuse -- ICP and other acts on the Psychopathic Records roster have openly discussed their own troubled childhoods, bringing birds of a similar feather into an ever-expanding flock. The label's latest signee, Big Hoodoo, is unafraid to discuss the molestation he suffered as a child. From his song "Never Had":

I was molested as a child, I never told my momma I thought it was my fault and didn't want the drama She would tell me "Boy, I really fuckin' hate you A curse on this world since the day I made you."

Big Hoodoo.
Big Hoodoo.

When I attended the Gathering of the Juggalos last year, I saw Big Hoodoo perform this song. He spoke of the abuse plainly beforehand, and the crowd of face-painted kids that were watching shouted their love and support. The fact that these artists, so beloved by their fans, also had a troublesome time growing up attracts kids with similar woes. The same could be said in regards to street-life rap and poor urban communities. Or, I don't know, yacht-rock music and comfortable-shoe enthusiasts. People are attracted to art that reflects the things that they know and see in their lives -- the things that are real to them.

In this way, the wanton bashing of juggalos by so-called "normal" people can be seen an example of classism. In no small way, you are making fun of lower-income folks who have already led rough lives. It is easy to do because they painted themselves up to look like clowns and wear great big pants. But did you not consider that they saw themselves in the mirror before they left the house?

What is more tongue-in-cheek, "wink-wink nudge-nudge" than deliberately painting one's own face to look like a clown? These kids know that there is humor in what they are doing. They are in on the joke -- it is just that the joke is often taken too far by malicious people who don't understand them.

In Defense of the Juggalos
Nate "Igor" Smith

Most recently, Kaiser, Missouri, residents were up in arms -- some literally -- over the Gathering of the Juggalos moving to their town. There were protests and petitions and everything. And yet, Party Cove is located right in the area -- a hedonistic playground that has been featured on Playboy TV, A Current Affair and Sexcetera on account of its raucous activities. The New York Times has even dubbed it the "oldest established permanent floating bacchanal in the country," thanks to its nudity, public sex acts and drug use.

See also: Ozark Orgy: The naked truth about Missouri's backwater Sodom and Gomorrah

So how is the Gathering appreciably different? Party Cove enthusiasts can afford boats.

There are other reasons that people might cite for poking fun as well, but those reasons also amount to a lot of bullshit.

Continue to page two.

About The Author

Daniel Hill

Daniel Hill is editor at large for the Riverfront Times and he demands to be taken seriously, despite all evidence to the contrary. Follow him on Twitter at @rftmusic.
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