Too punk for the punks--is ICP the pinnacle of underground ideology?
We'll come out and say it--we have a small but rather profound, perverted respect for Insane Clown Posse. Certainly, in the history of, ahem, "pop" music, there has never been a band that has followed ICP's suit--they are multi-platinum selling artists, who have never had a radio hit, and who are either wholly unknown or vehemently derided outside their feverish fanbase. Perhaps it's a vestigial shred of Americanism in us that doffs our caps to such successful, anomalous enterprise.
Which isn't to say that the recently released infomercial for 2009's Gathering of the Juggalos doesn't make the event compare unfavorably to root canal or colonoscopy. Click below the jump, if you dare.
The Gathering is an equally unique arrangement, one that proves (as if it needed to be further proven) that ICP's fans are every bit as industrious as the artists themselves. The festival began as a fan-organized tribute to the band, an honest to God grassroots campaign that ICP decided to sanction in its very first year.
The most bizarre thing about it isn't the hideous facepaint, the terrible music, or the rampant consumerism that marks this convention of the suburban disenfranchised, but the fact that, despite a fan base of millions, despite a pair of paltinum selling records, and despite collaborations with artists like Snoop Dog, the band's appropriation of the "outcast" posture is the most legitimate thing about them. They are the most infamous and most poorly reviewed band within earshot.
Is there value here? Consider this: the band, and its fans, are a direct affront to the concepts of beauty in body and in art. This is ugly music, played by ugly people, bought by ugly fans. And they're proud of it. That philosophy isn't a terribly great leap from a Tyra Banks episode, where plus-size women assert their bodies and their beauty, and give a middle finger to societal standards they deem oppressive and backward (which is, in the eyes of the status quo, a noble stance).
Juggalos are far from a majority. But one look at the infomercial proves that they are, also, far from alone. It's enough to warrant a head scratch, a derisive laugh, and plenty of groaning.
But check yourself. These are people hell bent on avoiding your acceptance. In decades past, that was an attitude the critical elite grew to embrace. Is the Gathering of the Juggalos the grand, and most truthful expression of the half-hearted platitudes espoused by a more aesthetically pleasing cadre of musical dissidents like the Ramones, the Stooges, and Devo? We shudder to think.