Rappers go to extraordinary lengths to hoodwink the public into buying into their gang-banger bona fides. The Insane Clown Posse (ICP) may be the only hip-hop act waging a public relations campaign aimed at demonstrating that they’re not involved in a criminal enterprise.
The ACLU, ICP, and four Juggalos — face-painted followers prone to spraying cheap sodas on one another and shouting “whoop, whoop” — have sued the FBI for classifying them as a “gang.”
What in the name of Violent J gave the feds the insane idea of calling this posse a “gang”?
A lawyer/Juggalo ridicules law-enforcement’s designation as “the equivalent of placing Phish fans on a terrorist watch list.” But what jam-band gypsy has ever attacked a gay bar patron with a hatchet, killed a state trooper, and kidnapped and murdered a woman on a multi-state crime spree, as Juggalo Jacob Robida did in 2006? The manager of ICP, whose record label goes by the nickname “the hatchet,” maintained in the carnage’s aftermath, “Anyone that knows anything at all about Juggalos knows that in no way, shape, or form would we ever approve of this type of bulls#!+ behavior.”
But a few years back when I referred to the ICP’s loyal legion as Deadheads with GEDs, substituting violence and hate for peace and love, the Juggalos responded in a manner suggesting that perhaps they do “approve of this type of bulls#!+ behavior.” One opined, “this juggalo (me) would not even bring my hatchet i would kill this mother f*cker with my bare hands,” while another informed, “fuc* wid us we comin at you wid axes swinging, im bringing my freaks and our meatcleavers, sawed-off shotguns, hatchets, and axes.” A commenter ironically named Angel warned, “bitch i’ll chop you up and put you in a blender and feed you to your mom!!!!”
The verbiage comes copy-cat style courtesy of the two high priests of the Church of the Unholy Clown. One number called “I Stab People” fantasizes about shanking Pete Rose. “Another Love Song,” an ode about an ax’s attraction to a girl, rhapsodizes, “I’d like to chop and never stop.” The lawsuit characterizes ICP music as offering “hopeful, life-affirming themes about the wonders of life and the support that Juggalos give to one another.”
ICP insists that their posse isn’t a gang. It’s a “family.” Like Mike Brady’s or Charles Manson’s?
In 2008, two adult Juggalos, believing a teenage boy the source of the STD that one’s girlfriend had awarded him, slashed the teenager in the back of the neck with a medieval ax, leaving a cut requiring 300 stitches. The attackers dropped Juggalo jewelry at the scene, a clue that led police to a car with a Juggalo sticker and their capture. In 2009, two Juggalos reenacted one of their favorite ICP songs by hacking an Army veteran to death with a meat cleaver. That same year, a Juggalette — a few exist — confessed to a friend that she wanted to feel what it was like to kill another human being and subsequently murdered her nine-year-old neighbor. ICP attracts and inspires a bad crowd.
But most enthusiasts of the rap duo, wrestling tag team, and thespian double act merely regard their passion as harmless fun and the over-the-top lyrics as catharsis. “Nightstalker” Richard Ramirez listened to AC/DC. The FBI didn’t go after the 22 million Americans who bought “Back in Black.” So, the Juggalos ask, WTF does the FBI classify ICP as they do LCN?
Most clowns expect, nay, invite attention and ridicule. The law-abiding Juggalos resent law-enforcement’s attention brought their way by their subculture’s subculture of law breakers, many of whom resent the straight-and-narrow Juggalos as phonies. The New York Times reported that one Juggalo relayed “that after a lifetime of feeling like an outsider, the music of Insane Clown Posse ‘told me I wasn’t alone.’”
Isn’t that the appeal of all gangs?
Juggalos aren’t Juggalone. The gang, the movement, the party, the whatever gives members a purpose, an identity, and a support system. In gratitude, the member sacrifices individuality. This phenomenon has been described and decried from Eric Hoffer’s True Believer to Pete Townshend’s Quadrophenia. But society still fetishizes and fears the lone wolf rather than the wolf pack. It’s the other-directed over-socialized, not the inner-directed anti-social, that most threatens public safety. We lose our morals most when we lose ourselves in the mob.
The monkey-see-monkey-do phenomenon cultivated by ICP underscores the dangers of encouraging fans to dress, speak, and behave as fictional characters even when the masquerade ball ends. Simpletons impressionable enough to imitate cult-of-personality celebrities are impressionable enough not to be in on the joke.
The face paint, even if styled in an evil clown design, suggests in black-in-white that ICP plays a part. It’s show business, after all. But in an age of keeping-it-real, many of the pair’s clown clones, consistent with their preference for words that begin with “f,” confuse act for fact. If the murderers and hooligans within their ranks can’t discern performance from reality, Juggalos shouldn’t be surprised when the cops can’t, either.