A decade ago, we were all laughing at Insane Clown Posse and their inability to comprehend how “fucking magnets” work. At the time, we all thought that two guys dressing up as clowns and rapping over carnival beats was the dumbest concept ever. But in the past couple of years, Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope have proven to be true forces of good in this evil world, whether it’s by bashing bigotry, calling out sexual abuse, or by simply showing their love to their loyal fans. Sure, they’re still goofy as hell, but so is your favourite black metal band, with their stupid corpse paint, waving plastic swords in the middle of a forest. The only difference is, ICP are very aware of their gimmick and have stuck to it for close to 30 years.
One major criticism against the Detroit duo is their fan base, known as Juggalos. We tend to stereotype Juggalos as poor, drug addicted white kids living in trailer parks who love to break fluorescent tubes over each other in backyard wrestling matches. But name one music fan base that isn’t overrun by degenerates. Tool fans? Those kids think that just because they smoke weed and know the Fibonacci sequence, it makes them intellectually superior to everyone else. No wonder Maynard James Keenan hates them.
Juggalos are probably the most devoted fan base in existence (sorry, Deadheads), and ICP love them for it, writing whole songs for them and putting on a yearly festival in their honour. Earlier this year, ICP showed more leadership than the President of the United States when they decided to cancel the Gathering of the Juggalos for the first time in 20 years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Their reasoning being that they refused to “risk even one Juggalo life.” Although disappointed, Juggalos agreed that it wasn’t worth the risk, and instead organized their own virtual Gathering to encourage others to stay home. Meanwhile, the Insane Clown President has been holding campaign rallies, pushing conspiracy theories about the pandemic, and telling America to go back to work because keeping the economy alive is worth dying for, apparently.
Juggalos do not deserve the reputation they have. They’re a community who has bonded over their bizarre sense of humour. Those among them who came from broken homes were able to find a new family that understands them. However, many lives have been shattered because the FBI has classified them as a dangerous gang on par with the Bloods and Crips due to the actions of a few violent individuals. Nonviolent Juggalos have lost their jobs or child custody just because they like to wear clown makeup and have a crappy stick-and-poke Hatchet Man tattoo. Meanwhile, Neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan still aren’t perceived as a threat in the FBI’s eyes. In 2017, the Juggalos organized a peaceful march on Washington DC to protest their gang classification. The date coincided with an alt-right rally, meant as a follow-up to the infamous Unite the Right rally from a month before, which ended with the death of a counter-protester. Guess which rally the cops decided to monitor, ready to attack if anyone were to step out of line.
Although their lyrics are rather vulgar, Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope have always been anti-racist. Despite having a large following in the Southern states, ICP has made it clear that racist rednecks are not welcome at their party. At the height of the anti-racist protests held in the wake of the death of George Floyd, ICP reprinted t-shirts of a clown lighting a Confederate Flag on fire. This wasn’t a new position either. They came right out of the gate with it on their 1992 debut album Carnival of Carnage with their song “Your Rebel Flag,” in which they rap about killing bigots and taking a shit on the Confederate flag.
At a time when the music industry is being rocked by a wave of sexual harassment and assault allegations, ICP are one of the few artists speaking out about it, specifically about one musician who has been preying on underage girls for years without consequence: Dahvie Vanity of Blood on the Dance Floor. In a post on social media, Violent J did not mince words. He straight up called Vanity a pedophile and encouraged their fans to “pick up a heavy object and inflict [a] necessary beat down” if they ever see him. The post caught the attention of Chris Hansen, who you might remember from the popular Dateline NBC show To Catch A Predator. Over the last few months, Chris Hansen has been building a case against Vanity, talking to survivors and witnesses to Vanity’s abuse in his web series. But ICP’s post made so many people aware of the situation, that Hansen had to invite Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope onto his show to discuss how to take down the predatory rockstar. It’s incredible to see these two worlds meet. ICP had admired Hansen’s work from a distance, having written a song called “To Catch A Predator” as a tribute, but seeing them on the same Zoom call is surreal, but it’s for a worthy cause.
ICP aren’t the most insightful or the most educated, but then again, most musicians aren’t. It’s not like you’re going to Ozzy Osbourne for wisdom. However, their intentions are good and they’re willing to adapt to progressive politics. At the 2016 Gathering of the Juggalos, the Miss Juggalette pageant featured their first transgender contestant. With the release of their own craft beer Frothy Whoop Dub, ICP inadvertently promoted trans rights by putting the phrase “Slap his pussy! Slap her dick!” on the can. Violent J also supported his daughter’s strange hobby by accompanying her to a furry convention in his own custom fursuit. It’s small actions like these that have made me respect Insane Clown Posse. I might never unironically enjoy their music, but I give them mad props for their dedication, their passion, and their vocal and unfiltered opposition to hate and rape culture. I don’t think I’ll ever consider myself a Juggalo, but I might consider putting on clown makeup in the distant future, in order to deter facial recognition technology once the government installs surveillance cameras on every street corner. Whoop whoop!
Written by Chris Aitkens
*Edited by Dominic Abate