(photo courtesy of edfx.com)
Let me get one thing straight: I’m not a Juggalette . Most people don’t know much about the Insane Clown Posse or their affiliated groups associated with Psychopathic Records. They hear about them in the news on the few occasions that ICP makes it on, usually when their diehard followers do something stupid. Recently the United States Government has categorized Juggalos and Juggalettes as a gang, much like the Bloods, the Crips, etc. (For those of you who are unsure of what those terms mean, let me explain. ICP, Twiztid, and their affiliate groups associate themselves as Juggalos. Their listeners call themselves that as well. A Juggalette is the female version. A better explanation can be found here –> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juggalo .)
The majority of people to speak out against ICP and Psychopathic Records couldn’t quote a verse from any song nor could they name a song other than to mention something regarding “Chickin’ Huntin'” which is a popular song regarding bigotry. Whenever I ask people why they dislike them, they never have a genuine reason other than they’re stupid, which in my opinion is the most childish answer without a real reason to back it up but a definite conversation ender.
I have listened to ICP, Twiztid, and the affiliated Psychopathic Records artists since I was 14. My mom knew I listened to them but still to this day has never listened to them herself. I’ll give credit where it’s due; she has never said a bad word about them. My husband has heard a few of their songs. He has an undefinable hatred for them and all Psychopathic Records affiliates. He refuses to listen even for a moment, and I respect that and no longer play their music within audible distance of him. It’s a discussion we often avoid because it’s an argument that will never be won by either side.
I own every CD, all of the “Cards”, and the LP’s. One of the characteristics of a Juggalo/Lette is a painted face mimicking a clown, usually with black and white paint but occasionally using blue and red. Every affiliate of Psychopathic Records paints their face in the same fashion. I DO NOT paint my face. I don’t wear their clothing (although I have in the past). I don’t associate with any Juggalos (although in High School the majority of my friends did consider themselves to be Juggalos).
The majority of the population considers ICP to be a “bad influence” on today’s youth. I agree that the lyrics are riddled with obscene language and violent metaphors. However if you look past the curse words and examine the metaphors, ICP and Psychopathic Records actually do send some good messages. For instance: in the song “Hall of Illusions”, ICP makes the point that bigotry, abuse, and alcoholism are all horrible things that ruin your life and the lives of those around you. In the song “How I Live” by Twiztid feat. Proof they state, “I was raised with the knowledge that you gotta do what you gotta to get paid”, making the point that sometimes you’re put in a bad situation but keep going and do what you have to do.
ICP preaches the importance of Family and they understand that their demographic of listeners may not have good relationships with their blood family. ICP tells their listeners that Family isn’t blood, it’s emotional support. They have created their own Family. People relate that to Charles Manson and his Family. ICP and Psychopathic Records have never asked their listeners to kill for them. Nor have they attempted to brain wash their listeners into believing that some war was coming or that they needed to take refuge in the desert. In fact it’s quite the opposite. Amid the obscene language lies the message that you are not alone and that they understand what you’re feeling, a trait common in all music but portrayed differently depending on the demographic and although it may be tough to find that message underneath the makeup it still remains. And the demographic, in this case, is very important. ICP plays to kids that are considered to be “at-risk”. The obscene language appeals to them, and sometimes, especially when you’re having a bad day, screaming “Fuck You” at the top of your lungs just makes it all better, no matter who you are or where you came from. That’s the point. ICP gives their demographic an outlet for all the things that they’re feeling inside. School sucks, friends are few and far between, and when you try to explain what’s inside no one understands, but ICP does. They understand how you feel like you could just lose your mind and break everything and they give an outlet for that emotion where no one gets hurt.
But don’t think I have dismissed the inexcusable actions of some Juggalos. I understand that a lot of people have painted their face, threw on a pair of Tripp pants and gone on a spree of destruction, all while calling themselves Juggalos and saying ignorant things like “ICP sang about it so I thought it was ok,” or “I did it for the Family”. These are kids that truly are “at-risk” and should have been intervened with years ago, and for that I blame the parents and school officials. It’s their job to recognize the signs that a child may need some guidance in life before they decide to dismember cats and blow up gas stations. If these same kids would have found Marilyn Manson instead of ICP they still would have done the same things but blamed it on Manson. If they had listened to Rob Zombie they would have blamed it on his music. Hell, if they would have listened to Tupac they would have done the same things. Saying that music made you do something is a cop-out and blaming ICP or the term Juggalo for what a few people did is no different.
Music, people, books do not make us do anything; we make our own choices no matter how mentally weak we may be at that moment. No one went around saying that Bible Thumpers were a cult or a gang when they decided to burn thousands of copies of Harry Potter because the bible claimed it to be witch craft. Granted, their offense wasn’t as violent as what some Juggalos have done, but the concept is the same. The government never publicly announced that the Westboror Baptist Church was a gang and they went around protesting War Veteran’s funerals and harassing their families. They also terrorized homosexuals claiming that they were going to Hell for sinning.
What the government seems to always leave out when on the subject of Juggalos and ICP is the good they have done in the community. Juggalos Making a Difference (J.M.A.D.) is a group in Denver, Colorado is a charity that helps with food drives, clothing and toys for the homeless and those who need help. The Dead Stephanie Memorial Cleanup was created in 2008 by the The Juggalo Cleanup Crew in Florida to pick up trash in honor of Stephanie Harris, a high school student who dies of diabetes. In 2010 Psychopathic Records organized a Toy Drive to benefit children from underprivileged families. In 2014 ICP put on a charity concert in Ohio where all proceeds when to the family of Aaron Spencer, a Juggalo who died from a debilitating illness. In Buffalo, New York the Hatchet House and Community Outreach started cleaning up Buffalo’s East Side and created a 24/7 help line that refers community members in crisis to services and also serves as a base of operations for volunteer work and community service programs. These are the things that the news never wants to tell you; the good things that Juggalos do.
As of January, 2014 ICP and the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan filed a suit against the FBI to remove Juggalos from the gang list and all documents collected by the CIA on Juggalos to be destroyed. They also created juggalosfightback.com to give people an outlet to tell their stories about unfair treatment they have received by law enforcement for being considered a Juggalo.
The bottom line of all this is that just because someone paints their face, listens to music that you may see as violent or ignorant, and calls themself a Juggalo doesn’t mean they are evil or violent or a bad person. It just means that they have a family that they want to show to the world because they are proud of who they are and what they believe. It’s no different from any other group. You can’t let a few bad people define a group. If we did, then everyone who listens to Elvis Presley would be some weird sex addict rebels and girls who idolize Miley Cyrus would be trashy whores. The point is that you can’t judge a person by the music they like, the way they dress, or the people they hang out with and the same goes for the people who listen to ICP, wear their clothing, or paint their faces in admiration.
I know a lot of people who listen to ICP and you’d never know it by looking at them. I know lawyers, bankers, police officers all who not only listen to ICP but own their CD’s and memorabilia. You’d never know it by looking at them and because of that they never deal with any hassle from people who claim to know just how bad ICP and their followers are. It says a lot about people who claim that people who like ICP are horrible, evil, violent freaks who are just out to destroy everything in their path.
I’ll end this on a simple note: I am a successful, well-educated, professional person. I am employed, own a nice vehicle, and am married. I have a high credit score and a loving family. I don’t kill people or try to burn down buildings. I don’t have a criminal record and I’ve never been to jail. I am not a Juggalette, but I am down with the clown.