In Defense of the Juggalos

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Nate "Igor" Smith
There's something to be said for non-conformity. We tend to think of non-conformist types as pioneers: free-thinkers, uninhibited by the expectations and opinions of others and unafraid to stand out in a crowd. We admire their courage and originality, and secretly wish we could be so brave. We've held many of these people up on a pedestal throughout human history, and as a society tend to think of their free-spirited nature as a virtue.

That is, unless those people are juggalos.

See also: Our complete Gathering of the Juggalos coverage

The word carries a near-exclusive negative connotation in non-juggalo circles. People deride the fans of the Insane Clown Posse and its related acts as unintelligent, white trash, criminals -- even as gang members, if you ask the United States government about it.

The last of those descriptions should be clearly seen, even by detractors, as completely ridiculous. To say that juggalos are a "gang" would imply that they are an organized criminal syndicate, complete with hierarchies and territories, constantly engaged in illicit activities. In reality, the group is largely a low-income bunch from rural communities across the Midwest (not exclusively, of course, but disproportionately so).

Many have struggled with an unstable home life and abuse -- ICP and other acts on the Psychopathic Records roster have openly discussed their own troubled childhoods, bringing birds of a similar feather into an ever-expanding flock. The label's latest signee, Big Hoodoo, is unafraid to discuss the molestation he suffered as a child. From his song "Never Had":

I was molested as a child, I never told my momma I thought it was my fault and didn't want the drama She would tell me "Boy, I really fuckin' hate you A curse on this world since the day I made you."

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Big Hoodoo.
When I attended the Gathering of the Juggalos last year, I saw Big Hoodoo perform this song. He spoke of the abuse plainly beforehand, and the crowd of face-painted kids that were watching shouted their love and support. The fact that these artists, so beloved by their fans, also had a troublesome time growing up attracts kids with similar woes. The same could be said in regards to street-life rap and poor urban communities. Or, I don't know, yacht-rock music and comfortable-shoe enthusiasts. People are attracted to art that reflects the things that they know and see in their lives -- the things that are real to them.

In this way, the wanton bashing of juggalos by so-called "normal" people can be seen an example of classism. In no small way, you are making fun of lower-income folks who have already led rough lives. It is easy to do because they painted themselves up to look like clowns and wear great big pants. But did you not consider that they saw themselves in the mirror before they left the house?

What is more tongue-in-cheek, "wink-wink nudge-nudge" than deliberately painting one's own face to look like a clown? These kids know that there is humor in what they are doing. They are in on the joke -- it is just that the joke is often taken too far by malicious people who don't understand them.

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Nate "Igor" Smith
Most recently, Kaiser, Missouri, residents were up in arms -- some literally -- over the Gathering of the Juggalos moving to their town. There were protests and petitions and everything. And yet, Party Cove is located right in the area -- a hedonistic playground that has been featured on Playboy TV, A Current Affair and Sexcetera on account of its raucous activities. The New York Times has even dubbed it the "oldest established permanent floating bacchanal in the country," thanks to its nudity, public sex acts and drug use.

See also: Ozark Orgy: The naked truth about Missouri's backwater Sodom and Gomorrah

So how is the Gathering appreciably different? Party Cove enthusiasts can afford boats.

There are other reasons that people might cite for poking fun as well, but those reasons also amount to a lot of bullshit.

Continue to page two.

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31 comments
Chris Gee
Chris Gee

I thought it was Wes Borland too!

Jon Jon
Jon Jon

PS, so far we have failed at making fun of... or standing up for juggalos, in these comments. comment readers are surely dissapointed

Jon Jon
Jon Jon

lol at someone actually posting "what's wrong with cigarette smoke?" as if the whole world doesn't know it's harmful to your health. also, "cocksmoker"? now that's an unique and original insult no ones ever heard before. welcome to the Internet.

Tony Bologna
Tony Bologna

Can they live like...as far away as possible? The smell of stale cigarette smoke travels far man.

Kati Lynn
Kati Lynn

Very well written and easy to read. Nitpickers aside, I thoroughly enjoyed this article as it gives an objective, qualitative perspective on a culture most hate only because their friends do.

Jordan Troy
Jordan Troy

RFT you do understand that you sound like a bunch of hypocrites, right? Your previous articles just oozed with superiority. Even if I dislike the music, I dislike the attitude more. Regardless, glad you came out with this. Redeems your publication a bit.

Paul Cook
Paul Cook

The difference between the gathering and party cove? When people leave party cove, they go back to lives that actually contribute to society.

Kyle DB
Kyle DB

In this thread. Liberals being bigots towards white folk for their views.

Jesda Ulati
Jesda Ulati

Weird white trash. I lump them in with Bronies as "goofy fucks I choose not to associate with"

Shawn Smith
Shawn Smith

Persecuted? You're fucking kidding, right?

Alice Grossman
Alice Grossman

Some of us judge them because we know them. Some of us know that they are disproportionately pieces of shit who are a drain on society and are proud of their ignorance and flaws. Then there is the fact that they are a cult that allows a really idiotic group tell them how they should feel about music, clothes, politics, mates, friends, food, etc. They attempt to be a group of nonconformists that conform to an extreme. Mindless obedience is a reprehensible flee in anyone. Juggalos are just a very unpleasant group to start with

Chris Gee
Chris Gee

What if instead of calling them names, we just throw pies at them. How ironic would that be. Clown=pie to the face=funny.

Adam Vishy
Adam Vishy

I judge their actions. Excessive drug use, remarkable violence, using fake names to skip out on hospital bills. Nice try.

Fred Beelman
Fred Beelman

He's got the ink right , he,s a big dick

Homer K Blua
Homer K Blua

I'm not into jugallo culture... But this is mostly true they don't need so much criticism. With that said I identify with a fool archetype more than a clown. "The fool on the hill sees the sun going down but the eyes in his head see the world turning round"

Tony Bologna
Tony Bologna

Live and let live, as far away from juggalos as possible. Hatchetmen bring down property values man.

Josh Reeves
Josh Reeves

I really enjoy all of these juggalo articles. Keep it up!

Kyle Izded
Kyle Izded

It's about time a reputable source defended these guys. The way people discriminate against this group is appalling, especially in an age where discrimination is clearly wrong.

Steve Van Booven
Steve Van Booven

The article makes some good points. Live and let live. I'm sure we ALL like or do certain things that others are going to scoff at. Shouldn't take life so seriously

Bryon Ramos
Bryon Ramos

Go away. Preferably to take a shower.

Jess Luther
Jess Luther

Okay, enough on the Juggalos. (10-12 blog posts ago.)

tonypatti
tonypatti

It may be helpful for your St. Louis readers to use the one word which, in our city, is used exclusively to define this group, a word that will achieve instant understanding: Hoosiers. 


Poor, rural or from rural roots; underclass kids. Kids who grew up with welts on their legs and asses, from their drunken enraged parents. Kids who hated school, because everyone there thought they was better'n them. 


The condescension will never stop, because even hipsters and intellectual liberals, who have a theoretical grasp of the problems that lead to people living these lives of drugged and desperate survival, will never allow themselves to see far enough into their lives to develop the slightest hint of empathy.


For me, I look at a Juggalo and I see teenaged me, except that I turned to Parliament/Funkadelic music shows for my community. Luckily for me, hipsters in subsequent decades looked back at this and judged it hip. Yet, during those years, for lack of parental support, I had to work minimum wage jobs, dishwashing, bussing tables, living in the cheapest slums I could find with groups of friends when I could make the rent, living under Ead's Bridge or crashing on people's couches when I could not, and dropping out of high school because I had to work until 3 in the morning. 


I'm never gonna admire a Juggalo, but I'm not going to condemn them, either. But one thing is for sure: The RFT has become so heavily Juggalo dependent, thanks to the page views your corporate overlords are addicted to, that much of the real criticism you've gotten is actually far more about your editorial choices than the Juggalos themselves; the Juggalos are just collateral damage.

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