The Struggle For A Juggalo Bill of Rights
We’re all guilty of it to a certain degree. However, I find it most perplexing when fans become defensive about their favorite medium. One person’s viewpoint will never utterly shatter the window in which said fans view others from. This means, if a Juggalo or any counterpart thereof, reads this, it probably won’t change his mind about I.C.P.
Let me just start by saying that this is not my intention. After Caleb Lalinsky posted the link to American Juggalo, a short film that neither praises nor condemns its players, I began to dig deeper into the mindset of someone who would throw normal social mores in the trash in order to associate with others of the same faith, so to speak.
I.C.P., like any psychedelic band of the Sixties, have created a mythology so dense that a random scan of YouTube comments or Deviant Art pages have Juggalos challenging other Juggalos about their true love of the duo, the knowledge of made-up characters, and the order in which they are meant to be seen. This sort of dedication rivals most religious institutes, as having to remember such trivial things doesn’t involve devoting time on the Internet to yell at strangers who laugh at the utter ridiculous nature of the group as a whole. Welcome to the new fundamentalism.
It’s not irony that one can merely scan the pages of this website and view the editorials as anything more than expositions on certain subjects. The difference would be the outright venom in which the opinions would be displayed. A civilized forum is no place for a true Juggalo to share his views since, much like a member of the mafia, they have sworn themselves to a code; the veneration of Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope. Any disagreement forthwith results in a barrage of slurs and expletives.
This is exactly why the Juggalos do not deserve a Bill of Rights. Forasmuch as they preach about acceptance to their group, most are quick to criticize one another for their level of dedication. Society cannot accept them because they don’t readily accept themselves. When did listening to music and liking a band come with papers? I’m not flashing them if I get asked to name the order of the Joker Cards. I could care less. And so should the people listening to the band. There’s no such thing as “musical equality.” I implore the foot soldiers to stop warring on a front that doesn’t exist.
No employer is going to let you wear clown make-up when you’re showing up at house to give an estimate for lawn care. You’re not spraying Faygo at a McDonald’s counter when you’re asking if I “want fries with that.” Halloween make-up and rocking out is reserved as an outlet of aggression on the weekends, not daily life. And if the words to your ears or text on a screen suddenly destroy all that you hold dear, then maybe it’s time to take a step back and realize that acceptance into the mainstream involves two major factors in achieving adulthood: personal responsibility and progressive self-awareness.
The only difference between Juggalos and Dave Matthews Band vegan art-school dropouts is face-paint and Faygo. Both subscribe to the idea that minimally talented bands have attained “Music Nirvana” and therefore deserve a following. But in doing so, they isolate themselves in a room where only being exposed to the same linear musicality results in the stench of stagnation. These people are way past not knowing that their taste in bands is atrocious; it has become unreality for them to even know it.
Granted, there’s nothing wrong in wearing band T-shirts and having a favorite. But once you start crossing the line into devotion, you become self-deceptive. Just because some dude on stage says he loves his fans does not equate to a hospital visit when you need a kidney, let alone a place to crash when you’re tossed out of the basement for spraying soda all over the entertainment center.
Because in truth, most Juggalos do come from varied walks of life, but it’s not a sweeping generalization to say that most Juggalos are social outcasts from age twelve on up due to the poisonous environment they sprang out of. Low-income housing. Drug addicted parents. Victims of emotional, sexual, and psychological abuse and so forth. It is extremely easy to see why so many people that have an idea of what “family” should mean, cling together so tightly to a word they’ve never come to truly understand.
The real reason that super fans, if you’ll indulge me, congregate in such large masses is because belonging to a fan base is much less restrictive than belonging to a religion, even if Fandom and, let’s say, Christendom demand the same sort of allegiance. This, in essence, is the ultimate cop-out. You can’t justify the supposed mental slavery of organized religion if you’re smearing greasepaint over your acne-riddled cheeks. Sorry, it doesn’t work that way.
However, that’s not to say that bands can’t have a position on socio-political and economic events. They can, since they have the public forum and the means to do so. But you’re the one paying for them to have those views when you purchase their records. And sure, ideology be damned; let me just listen to the tunes. But always remember, that just because you like the music, doesn’t mean you are a part of something meaningful. It simply means you’ve joined a more well-defined demographic.
And I have a T-shirt waiting for you.
Dante Villanova is an avid freelance fiction writer, movie reviewer, and video game enthusiast. He dual wields sarcasm and cynicism like twin katanas and enjoys filleting pop culture for sport.