I have a friend who’s a Juggalo. Not a close friend, mind you, but certainly not any manner of enemy. He’s a pretty nice guy, really. He’s funny, good natured, but sort of a dick to everyone he meets. Overall, he’s a decent fella. The thing is he’s a Juggalo, meaning that he must be at least partially retarded.
The thing I don’t get about the Juggalo scene is anything. My mind simply refuses to comprehend any scenario in which I would willingly paint my face like a clown, blast overtly shitty music, and cover my body in ludicrously poor tattoos. Even if I was the only human being on earth that wasn’t doing it. If anything, that would just give me an absolutely legitimate, delightfully literal context in which to point at the rest of humanity, arch my eyebrows in confused disapproval, and say “Fuck those clowns.”
Well, I guess they’re not all bad.
In all honesty, I don’t know much about the movement. I remember a hilariously sophomoric argument between Eminem and Insane Clown Posse back when he was young and still angry about things and they were still the kind of name that were mentioned outside of moldy basements and scathing blog posts, and I know that ICP were arguably the pioneers of the whole scene, but that aside, I know about as much as your average non-Juggalo person. I see the occasional horrendously spelled youtube comment to the effect of “Juggalo 4 lyfe, we a famly”, and every now and then a meme surfaces showing an overweight American stereotype painted up like Tim Curry from IT, holding a hatchet and a baby or strutting around his dirt-lot trailer plot shotgunning cans of terrible beer.
So I did some research into the history of the term, and according to Wikipedia the word ‘Juggalo’ was first used in 1994 by ICP clown-in-chief Violent J during the song ‘The Juggla‘ as a term of endearment to address the fans, the moniker stuck and from there on out followers of the band and their affiliates were known as such. At which point the trend of ‘Hatchetgear’ and Horror-rap began to spread like a syphilis outbreak through the porn industry.
Pardon me Miss, but your insanely regrettable tattoo choice is distracting me from your otherwise immaculate sideboob.
Beyond that, it’s all a mystery to me. The fact that people wake up in the morning and make the conscious decision to dress and act like that befuddles me beyond all belief. There are just so many more logical and worthwhile pursuits in life than deliberately looking, sounding, and acting that stupid. Perhaps that’s unfair. I’m a pretty closed minded guy to stuff like this, I suppose. Let’s take another look at this, through the eyes of someone on the frontlines. I present to you, a journal excerpt from a day in the life of a Juggalo;
“Dear diary. I guess I always knew there was something different about me. When I was six years old and my mom hired a clown to perform at my birthday party, all my friends were scared of him, but I was mesmerized. I instantly knew that this was my grandest aspiration in life. I spent so many years looking for a practical application for my irrational clown fetish, feeling alone and dejected, I was ready to give up and get a job, until I found an old cassette tape in the basement of an abandoned liquor store. There was a song on it that changed my life forever, after I heard these lyrics;
“Throw your signs in the air! What set? I don’t check, I don’t care! ‘Cause I’m down with the clown everywhere, ’cause much clown love is in here!”
Yes! Finally! There really is so much clown love in here! Oh, god these words speak to me on so many levels! I’m not the only one! Thank you, Violent J, thank you so fucking much! I hereby pledge the rest of my life in undying allegiance to you and your dumbass fad that never should have happened!”
The white leisure suits say “We’re proud to have been invited to this prestigious event”, while the hair and make-up say “We haven’t been sober since the early nineties”.
Alright, I’m definitely being biased and slanted here. Although you’d be hard pressed to blame me, it makes for a much more entertaining article, and it’s just so goddamn easy to rip on such an outlandishly silly trend. Really, though, the more I think about it, the more I sort of do understand it. It’s the same bond that unifies any clique, a logical, if somewhat strange reaction to the trials of growing up in a cruel, apathetic world.
I can see that a lot of these people went through some serious shit as kids. The point of commonality in most Juggalos and Juggalettes is that with or without clown make-up, they make easy targets for bullies. Be it glasses, red hair and freckles, a weight problem, a speech impediment, etc. Everyone had something that they were relentlessly ripped on for when they were younger. Some got it worse than others. It’s the shitty reality of life that somewhere between childhood and adolescence we all take crap from someone for something. Kids are bastards, man.
“Yaaay! nobody makes fun of me anymore!”
It makes sense to me that social outcasts tend to band together. Safety in numbers is a sound policy, after all. After years of being beaten up and insulted for having bad skin or big, floppy dumbo ears, I can’t say I’d blame someone for jumping on the first bandwagon willing to take them as they are. That’s completely understandable, and in all honesty, probably a good choice.
Well, “Good” might be overstating it a little.
Here’s the thing though, it’s all too easy to allow the lines to blur between social acceptance and gang mentality. If Juggalos were simply a group of nerds that liked to paint their faces and make observations about how society wasn’t willing to accept them, well, they’d kind of just be goths, and I think we’re at a point now where we can all agree that as silly and weird as they can be, goth kids are pretty much harmless.
The problem with Juggalos is that they’re not harmless. The entire aesthetic is one of outward violence and ostracism. It’s the extremist response to a group that have spent much of their lives isolated and abused, and while I’m sympathetic to the plight of anyone in that situation, I cannot in good conscience advocate carrying that abuse forward into what is clearly nothing more than a gang with the dumbest colors in gang history.
Something tells me little Joey isn’t exactly Ivy league material. Better spend his college fund on make-up and tiny axes.
The way to deal with a bully is by standing up for yourself. Fine, yes. Absolutely. I’m all for putting the bullies in their place. However, when you do so, the onus lies on you to not let that rush of power go to your head, lest you become the bully yourself. Look at the lyrics to any Insane Clown Posse song. What do you see? Yes, there’s a lot of crap about love and support for your fellow Juggalo, but there’s also a substantial amount of anger and hatred towards literally everyone else. This is not an acceptable mentality. It’s harmful and divisive.
There it is again. The familiar sound of predictably disagreeable readers in the comment section of my mind, saying things like;
“Oh come on, you can’t say that just because the lyrics are violent that the people who listen to it are violent as well. The same arguments have been levelled against almost every other extreme movement in musical history! But its just music, and it’s definitely not responsible for the actions taken by individuals that represent a small percentage of the entire community.”
Well, voice in my head. You’ve got a point there, and quite a well worded one at that. I’m not blaming the music for the violence attributed to it. To say that would make a murderer and a rapist out of anyone who has ever enjoyed a song by Marilyn Manson, or Eminem, or anyone else with a dirty mouth and a microphone. What I’m saying is that in this particular case, it’s certainly not helping anything, and the themes and ideals propagated by what Juggalo culture stands for give an excellent excuse for those with violent, criminal urges to express them in a socially acceptable forum, and that’s a fucking problem.
Okay, seriously, where are they finding these chicks? Somewhere in America, another father has failed.
When you’re talking about a demographic of individuals that carry a defensive mentality through their day-to-day lives, some would say having a group of people that feel the same way would be cathartic, offering a safe outlet for those urges and bottled up feelings. Others might argue that it offers the exact opposite, namely a gateway through which those emotions can grow and evolve into a downright sinister and malicious mindset.
I’m not talking out of my ass about the violence and crime, either. Juggalos have been legally classified as a gang by the FBI in four states as of the time of this writing. When the FBI feels the need to involve themselves in people’s musical tastes, it’s a fairly clear indicator that something, somewhere, has gone awry. Think I’m overstating it? Maybe it’s just a bunch of media hype and scare tactics, right? I remember when they said the same thing about 50 Cent’s fan-base, and my mom listens to him now.
I did a quick google search for “Juggalo Crime” and read the front page entries. Seems to me that this goes a bit deeper than over-protective parents sensationalizing something they aren’t comfortable with.
In the interest of balance, I also ran a search for “Juggalo Good Deeds”. Suffice to say, there were fewer hits, and the few that were there came exclusively from Juggalo Fan-sites, several of which led me to an error page stating that the content no longer existed.
At what point does a movement that advocates individuality and self-assuredness become one that promotes conformity and social division? Well, right about the time that said movement entails that everyone involved dresses, acts, and behaves the same, which is to say, like idiotic sociopaths. No matter how badly you’ve been abused or trodden upon in your life, it will never be a legitimate excuse to invert that manner of cruelty on your fellow man. That’s why the Juggalo movement is a problem.
Yes, drink up little one. You’ll need all the energy you can get for the long life of parental resentment and therapy ahead.
It seems to me that a great deal of otherwise decent people have fallen prey to the age-old paradigm of fighting hate with hate, which is wrong, no matter what colour your face is painted. The urge to seek vengeance upon those who have wronged you is a pervasive one, take it from someone who’s been bullied more than his fair share, the desire to see the sadists suffer is a difficult one to subvert, but nonetheless it is not okay to go swinging hatchets at anyone who doesn’t agree with your way of life, any more than it was for the people who made you so bitter and sad to put you through that to begin with.
I’d like to amend my opening statement. Juggalos are not retarded. Being retarded is not a choice. It’s a tragic, unavoidable disability that is thrust upon an individual without their consent, from which there is no escape, only the ability to cope, day by day, and make the best of the hand you’ve been dealt. In that sense, Juggalos can learn something from the retarded, in that they’re far more hard done by than most, but nevertheless continue living on undaunted by the trials they are faced with.
Juggalos opt into that lifestyle for whatever reason, and they invite all the negative attention they receive, and thrive on it. It’s an excuse to be angry and violent, and to allow those primal emotions to become the driving force behind their existence, blocking out compassion, empathy, and understanding in favour of the path of least resistance by saying “fuck everyone else, we’re a family.”
Well guess what Juggalos, you’re already in a family. It’s called the human race. Yes, we’re ugly, stupid, and mean at times but that’s only one side of it. There’s so much more that you’re missing by shutting the door and carrying a cross (or in this case, an axe) against those who have wronged you. You’re closing yourself off from the ability to learn, grow, and live alongside the rest of us. You’ve become exactly like the factions that have spawned you, a gang of ignorant, misanthropic bullies.
You also look ri-goddamn-motherfucking-diculous.
Not you, Joker. You look awesome.