Okay, this really pains me to say because I feel like I was sort of a pioneer in this movement and it’s making me retroactively feel like a dick, but man…enough with the culture slumming ‘embedded’ photo essays, articles and documentaries about the fucking Gathering of the Juggalos, okay? It’s too much. At this rate, by next year the entire juggalo gathering is just gonna be disguised hipsters ironically spraying each other with faygo and taking photos of one another for their various disaffected blogs. It’s too much. What a bummer.
I don’t want to overstate this: I understand and subscribe fully to the fascination with Juggalo culture. It’s been an obsession of mine for years, but it’s becoming too fetishized, and a lot of the joy of observing Juggalos is unfortunately being compromised by the Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics, which states, as we all know, that the act of observing something changes that which is observed. In this case, I’m not suggesting that the actual Juggalos are operating on an empirically different level. They’re still saying Whoop Whoop and asking to see tits and braiding their goatees and loving corn dogs and Charlie Sheen and all that. It’s more that all this newly generated web content from this last Gathering Of the Juggalos is starting to seem kind of crappy and exploitive. And yes, I’m aware that I’ve been a fan of crappy exploitation of Juggalos for a long time. I don’t, as a rule have anything against observing wasted people barter for tit views and klonipin, but these days the webs of hipsters and assholes like me that unequivocally look down upon the Juggalo culture but hope to exploit its foibles for the amusement of other people deemed cool enough to see how bizarre the whole movement is, are starting to connect, and the result is that what was once akin to going into the great unknown rainforest to try and get a glimpse of a crazy society of people who may or may not be friendly, is now starting to seem more like a shitty day trip safari (which, by the way would be a GREAT name for a band. “Shitty Safari” you can go ahead and use it).
And the real thing is, there’s nothing to be done about it because it IS fascinating stuff, but the novelty of embedding oneself within the sticky, shitstainy culture of the juggalos has completely worn off. The sheer numbers of embedded journalists and their unanimously condescending point of view (which is, ‘wow, this shit is fucked up, but you know what? These people are really nice and they’re having a great time down here on their little drug and titty bender…maybe we, as a culture could learn something from the proud, resplendent silverback juggalo and his mighty pride of Juggalettes and skinny, beef jerky-esque beta juggalos) is making the whole thing bullyish and exploitive. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m down with laughing at big fat gross wierdos who consider spraying soda on one another to be an acceptable form of social discourse, but I’m not so into the whole of postmodern, super cool, tastefully jaded 20-40 year olds just all pointing and laughing as though it’s something that they’ve (we’ve) all just discovered. Juggalo slideshows are up there with the ‘lined, wizened face of the grizzled hobo’ photos and the ‘plastic bag caught in the wind’ short films. It’s been fucking done to death and your version of it isn’t gonna be good. It’s just not. Sorry. Your investigative juggalo photo essay is nothing more than an ironic rite of passage at this point. Sorry.
And yes, of COURSE I wanted to go to the gathering and embed myself and be disguised as a Juggalo and come home with all sorts of crazy stories and photos and a movie, and I’m sore that the entire world jumped at the chance and I didn’t get to do it and now it’s oversaturated and as a result I’m never gonna be able to get the experience. Of course. But that changes nothing. If I’d gone to the gathering this year, I’d just be sitting here now coming to the shitty realization that I’d just gone on the same hipster safari that everyone else went on and sure, I’ve got a great picture of that guy with the ‘it ain’t rape if it’s dead’ shirt standing out by the porta potties rolling a joint laced with xanax, but so does everyone else.
Finally, something should be said for the fact that although I like to identify myself with punks and outcasts and ‘fringe culture’ (whatever the fuck that’s supposed to mean), the truth is that Juggalos are the real outcasts, they’re the no-bullshit, real deal, persecuted losers that made a culture that no one is supposed to understand based on their desire to belong to a family of misfits. I think the music sucks, the clothes are retarded and the rituals are lame. It also strikes me as more than a little dangerous. That’s what my dad said about my music/ideas when I was a kid. That’s what we all pretend punk was, that’s what we pretended gangster rap was, but the truth is that those genres were all, to the last, pioneered by smart, cool, good looking people who were obsessed with image and marketing. The juggalos are a bunch of slobs. They’re the real thing. And that’s pretty cool. We could learn a thing from the resplendent silverbacked juggalo and his mighty pride of Juggalettes and skinny, beef jerky-esque beta juggalos.