I Went to an ICP Show Last Night and I Think I Might Be a Juggalo Now

To be clear: I wasn’t expecting this. When I told people I was going to an Insane Clown Posse show, it was always with that mixture of mock-sheepishness and eye-rolling dismissiveness we reserve for cultural events like this — cultural events that are populated by people that are, on some demographic or maybe existential level, different from us; cultural events that are really, really easy targets; cultural events that, you know, feature as prominent motifs murderous clowns and wanton misogyny and horrible, horrible music.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how a huge portion of both the fascination about and distaste for ICP is bound up in class: Juggalo culture has, for whatever reason, come to be pretty synonymous with a specifically blue-collar, white, male, often midwestern, archetype, one that’s been pushed out of manufacturing jobs by recession and globalization and marginalized by lack of education — as Violent J told me on the phone a couple weeks ago, “we’re not the college demographic,” and as Cord Jefferson eloquently argued in a 2011 Good piece, making fun of Juggalos is one of the last acceptable forms of class bigotry. Which is significant generally, but also to the way I came into this show: I was fully expecting to be an elitist asshole about this, basically. I was going to tweet bitchy, condescending things and be somewhere disgusted by the whole affair. Because I’m a Berkeley-born, liberal-arts educated feminist with a somewhat-embarrassing-but-very-real-investment in the idea that I Am Defined by my Taste and That Said Taste is Generally Good. Because that’s what people like me are supposed to make of ICP.

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