Monday, September 26, 2011

So! Many! Juggalo! Pictures!

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.



Jayzilla said...

corndogs ftw

Lichen Planus of the anus said...
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Robb said...

Picturing scenario of garden variety hipster on juggalo safari craving a corndog or six but biting lip and abstaining in quiet agony for fear of disdainful stink eyes from 'the pack'. I mean if you think it over can you imagine a food product that's prolly more ostensibly shunned but secretly devoured in those circles? Combos, maybe

Robb said...

Have any hetero band frontmen on isanyoneup attempting to be 'shocking' with gay anal shenanigans posted pics of themselves ramming corndogs in their anuses yet? Havent been by there in awhile, since that loathesome facebook changeover

Donnie said...

I like corn dogs...and beef jerky.

David said...

I'm driving from San Francisco to Reno in 2 weeks to see ICP for the 10th time in 15 years. My reason for attending their shows and listening to their music all this time is equal parts the last paragraph of your blog as it is my love of theatrics.

Lichen Planus of the anus said...
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It's A Me, Martucci said...

"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."

And different how? They're the world's most successful horrorcore group. The comically repetitious nature of their subject matter seems almost...deliberate, almost. As if the whole affair is a carefully constructed image of if it' a very specific

Am I supposed to believe tweedle jay and tweedle jizz DIDN"T plant the 'evil circus' seeds in extremely unsophisticated terms while smoking second rate schwag to the smuttiest vhs porn available circa '89?
"We need a fuckin ANGEL ya know? All the greats got a ANGEL (angle)"
"Ay there's FAYGO! Fuckin LOVE it!
"YEAH let's spray that shit like purple jizz!
"By the GALLON son."
"Then also, we both gots an excessive fixation with horror, gore and 'evil clownz', like every fucking hillbilly ever, so, we'll throw those two highly disparate things together and call our fans some buzzword under the guise of 'a family' " etc etc


Anne said...

When I was a kid, it was The Grateful Dead. I'm older now and one of 'em is dead, so I guess the party is over. They've upped the anty by a whole lot, but it's the same game. There's nothing new under the sun or so said Solomon.

Jake S said...

Having been one of the hipster journalists you hilariously lampoon here, I have to say that while I agree, the whole Juggalo fascination has become something more for me. I went to the Gathering this year on a media pass (along with our team from and hipster journalists ranging from Buzzfeed and the Village Voice to some obscure zine photocopied on construction paper), and though there were plenty of hipsters there for the shitty safari, I think some of us just learned to enjoy it for what it is. I was under no illusion that what we were doing was original or mind-blowing (Vice pretty much closed the book on hipster Juggalo coverage in 2007), but it is a fun, interesting and thoroughly misunderstood subculture.

What's really facinating to me about the whole thing are the people behind the scenes. We live in Michigan as well, and after the Gathering, made friends with ICP's publicist, Andy. Besides playing a key role in organizing Gathering of the Juggalos, she's a also a highly intelligent lawyer who dresses like a normal person, not to mention a die-hard Hanson fan. At a bar in Ferndale last week, she introduced us to ICP's producer, Mike E. Clark (also the guy DJing on stage behind them at the shows) and he too is startlingly normal. One of our writers asked him about his hip-hop influences, to which he replied "Eh.. I dunno.. not really into hip hop much. Eminem is pretty good. I mostly dig classic rock; Zepplin.. shit like that."

I've met and interviewed many people in the music industry over the years, and never have I known a label that genuinely gives a shit about its fans the way Psychopathic does, often even at the expense of their bottom line. GOTJ is by far the best organized and most expensive-looking festival I've ever been to. I spoke to the managing partners in the staging company there (who also stage Pitchfork every year as well as Barack Obama's last birthday party) and they confirmed that it would be surprising if Psychopathic Records profits directly off the Gathering. According to him, artists and contractors alike love doing Gathering because not only are they treated extremely well, they get paid far more than market rates. The owner of the campground agreed, saying that the revenue they get from the Gathering is more than the rest of their year combined. On top of this, Psychopathic replaces anything that gets ruined as a result of Juggalo mayhem. Four days of 24-hour entertainment and camping for $175, a little over half what it would cost for three days at Coachella.. which to my knowledge, does not feature Faygo oil-wrestling.

My point is that to be interested in--even fascinated by--the whole subculture, you don't need to get green dreadlocks, nor do you have to be a douchebag tourist. Though I wouldn't call myself a fan of horrorcore, it has to be said that ICP puts on an amazing show. We went to the first stop of their American Psycho tour last night and had an absolute blast. Juggalos are just people. Some of them live in trailer parks and have three teeth, some of them are doctors. Yeah, the coverage can get extremely condescending and exploitative (see this year's Gathering coverage on Deadspin) but it can also show the rest of the world that Juggalos are just like any other subculture; a group of people who identify with a certain scene and want to have fun.

You should go next year. Get a media pass, and go with the intention of having fun like any other festival. Take pictures and write about it, or don't. Either way, wanting to hang out with some people who are different than you doesn't make you a douchebag.

Thomas Sullivan said...

I know nothing about these folks, but doesn't everything organic and original eventually get co-opted and infiltrated by hipsters and marketers/self promoters? I remember Bobby Weir once saying that the Haight-Ashbury scene changed when the new people showing up had nothing to add.

James said...

"Psychopathic replaces anything that gets ruined as a result of Juggalo mayhem."