In Defense of the Juggalos

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Nate "Igor" Smith

Maybe you don't like rap. But that's OK, because some people do. People's opinions differ.

Maybe you don't like it when white people rap. This is extra, extra dumb. It is strange how people who don't like rap as a whole like to go the extra mile to doubly hate on rap made by white folks. It's 2014, you guys.

Maybe you don't like clowns? I can't really come up with a good argument against that, I guess. You can win that one, but all you have thereby proven is that juggalos are scary in the same way that clowns are, which is less than compelling to much of the population (unless we're talking about the movie It).

The ridicule from the public at large doesn't help these situations at all; it exacerbates them. Consider these passages from Michael Azerrad's acclaimed Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground, 1981-1991:

In early August '80 the Teen Idles, along with roadies Mark Sullivan and Henry Garfield, took a bus out to California to play some shows... When they arrived at the LA bus station, a cop, wary of violence-prone punks, hassled the Teen Idles, calling them "faggot" and "clown."

Ian MacKaye and the Teen Idles, who were based in D.C. but traveled to LA to play a show with the Dead Kennedys and the Circle Jerks, then met some of the more violent local punks, who had adopted more hands-on methods of dealing with the daily ridicule of the public. The D.C. punks were inspired:

"I don't know if you've ever experienced a carload of hillbillies going by and yelling, 'Faggot!' at you or getting beat up by Marines in Georgetown," says MacKaye, "but there's something so satisfying about someone yelling something at you as they go by and then racing after the car and dragging them out of the car at a red light. And seeing those guys do that stuff made us feel like we need to defend, we need to circle the wagons. We need to fight back."

So, Teen Idles, Dead Kennedys, Circle Jerks: gang members? Ian MacKaye: gang leader? Of course that is ridiculous, but here he is, openly advocating violence, a member of a misunderstood pseudo-gang of misfit kids. These bands are seen as legends and are near-universally revered in music circles.

When I was at the Gathering last year, there was a group of people from ReasonTV running around with a professional video camera throughout the week, collecting interviews with festival attendees. The video they put together was just put online yesterday:

Camille Dodero, formerly of the Village Voice and Gawker, presently a freelance writer, was also interviewed in the eight-minute clip. "They became juggalos because they were persecuted," she explains, "and now they are being persecuted for bonding together because they were being persecuted." This is as succinct an explanation for the cycle of ridicule juggalos are trapped in as one could find. The rest of the video is pretty good, too.

Then there is, of course, the other obvious parallel: Juggalos, like the punks of yesteryear, listen to music that most people don't listen to and dress in an ostentatious manner. Is the situation really that different? Punk music is widely accepted now; punk fashion is a part of mainstream culture. It seems unlikely that juggalo fashion will experience a similar crossover, but you should still be aware that you are essentially acting like your prude grandparents when you mindlessly hate on these kids for their clothes and music.

Next time you are about to make a hackneyed joke about how they should "drop a bomb on the Gathering" (the number of times I've seen that one on social media is uncountable), don't. You are displaying your ignorance, and your hyperbole makes you look like a fool. (And your joke sucks.)

Better to be a clown than a fool, I say. Whoop whoop.

Check out our complete coverage of the 2013 Gathering of the Juggalos below:


- "Where Did My Dick Go? The Gathering of the Juggalos' Best Overheard Quotations
- This Incredible Make-A-Wish Teenager Went to the Gathering of the Juggalos, Got a Lap Dance (NSFW)
- Here Are the Things That Happen After 5 a.m. at the Gathering of the Juggalos
- Ten Must-Have Items When Camping with Juggalos
- Gathering of the Juggalos: Misconceptions and First Impressions
- Death Reported at Gathering of the Juggalos; Drug Bridge Closed
- Ten Things You Do Not Need When Camping With Juggalos
- Behold the Waking Nightmare of Juggalo Port-a-Potties
- Death at the Gathering of the Juggalos: "Four Dudes That Had Been Sleeping With a Corpse."
- Juggalo Eats and the Quest for the Mystical Burrito Man

RFT MUSIC'S GREATEST HITS

The 15 Most Ridiculous Band Promo Photos Ever
"Where Did My Dick Go?" The Gathering of the Juggalos' Best Overheard Quotations
I Pissed Off Megadeth This Week, My (Former) Favorite Band
The Top Ten Ways to Piss Off Your Bartender at a Music Venue



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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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