At this year’s Gathering of the Juggalos, the annual festival for fans of Detroit’s Insane Clown Posse (you may be familiar with the infamous YouTube promotional machine), the group promised via tweet that they’d be making “the biggest announcement of our career.” That announcement, made on Thursday to a tent holding over a thousand Juggalos and Juggalettes, was that Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope will be suing the FBI for classifying their fans — the very Juggalos and Juggalettes in attendance — as a “‘loosely organized hybrid gang’ in its National Gang Threat Assessment,” according to Spin. “As ICP’s lawyer, friend, and longtime Juggalo, Ryan Farris said, ‘This is a family of love, this ain’t no organized crime family.’”
Many fans in attendance reacted to the announcement with cries of “family!” and tears of joy, because, along with challenging the FBI (with the help of their lawyer), ICP has set up juggalosfightback.com, a website where those who feel they’ve been victims of anti-Juggalo discrimination can write in for help from the group, including legal support. Spin described one tearful attendee, Sean Wolf, who claimed being a Juggalo is the reason he lost custody of his son: “Wolf doesn’t have the money for a lawyer to try to fight for his child, and intends to use the support ICP is promising. ‘Violent J and Shaggy have the kind of dedication that they just can’t let something like this go,’ said Wolf.”
While ICP’s music is mostly angry, violent (their self-proclaimed genre is “horrorcore”), and, arguably, not very good, their united fans seem to profoundly relate to the band, and each other, in a much different way. Sean Dunne’s documentary American Juggalo (which you can watch online), filmed at last year’s Gathering, makes the attendees seem like a combination of Deadheads (but more boisterous), eighties metal heads (like the Judas Priest fans featured in another fine documentary, Heavy Metal Parking Lot), and born-again Christians (except they worship men in makeup instead of Christ).
The Juggalos take every opportunity to declare how much they love each other, the ways in which being a Juggalo shapes their entire lives, and their multiple ICP-related tattoos. They love weed, Faygo soda, and saying “what what” at every opportunity. In other words, seeing the movie would make you agree that Juggalos “ain’t no organized crime family.” If anything, they’re a cult, but either way, they’re absurd.
On the other hand, if a Juggalo does get arrested — and an affection for getting high and neck tattoos of dancing clowns would seem to increase one’s chance of ending up with an arrest record — saying “I’m innocent, they’re only targeting me ‘cause I’m a Juggalo” sounds a lot like, “I was just minding my own business when that guy came outta nowhere and ran into my knife.” In other words, being a Juggalo isn’t about committing crime, but your average Juggalo’s lifestyle seems about equal to your average shirtless perp on COPS, and being an idiot is rarely an FBI-worthy offense.