Thursday, November 08, 2012

The Gathering Of Juggalos


"I used to say 'I' and 'me.' But now you're here, it's 'us' and 'we.'" - from the song "Ben" by Michael Jackson.


Clowns share with some pop figures an important role in society. In the United States, the native Lakota tribe had a class of shamans who would perform contrary or foolish actions for the purpose of creating a balance in their culture. When the Europeans arrived, and the subsequent meeting of cultures occurred, the Lakota recognized images of circus clowns as being analogous to their own "contrary" figures. The Southwestern plains tribes had a caste of clowns who performed transgressive acts, called the "Heyoka." Ritualistic mockery of social mores is a part of society that dates back to the Ancient Greeks (as far as Western Civilization is concerned) and pops up in many indigenous societies elsewhere. The clowns represent in society a release of pressure from the buildup of social mores and expectations of society. The simple act of survival becomes a burden in society, bleakness and despair taking over in situations of hardship. Because of this, a safety valve to release this tension becomes a necessary factor in all societies. Clowns have conventionally been able to flaunt all rules and expectations, being able to mock those in power as well as the social standards of the day.
An intriguing development in modern culture is the development of a strata of persons in modern society who have a fear of clowns. The trope of the "evil clown" has become a ubiquitous figure in modern culture, seeping into the seedy world of car decals and carnival airbrushed t-shirts. A cultural signifier of a world gone wrong, the evil clown leers at the sane and level-headed with a cheerless hatred and heartless abandon. Fear of clowns has only been identified as an official "phobia" withing the past few decades, with several recent news stories reporting clown imagery having to be removed from hospitals or other locations because of complaints from individuals. As culture becomes further removed from its survival instinct, the role of the clown in society is understood less, abstracted.
Back to the Heyoka, and the ritual clowns... In shamanistic terms, acting out the lowest urges of mankind comes to serve a purpose. The cathartic nature of the clown's actions, falling off a horse, forgetting how to use bow and arrow, or even having magical luck despite laziness, feeds into the viewers understanding of their need to avoid these actions. People were so close to the day-to-day struggle of finding food and fending off enemies that seeing these things acted out was like a form of magic. Somewhere along the line, as our culture developed, our clowns transformed into a common aspect of our society, often blending into other roles and confusing things. Many who serve the role of the clown in our society are not expressly identified as such, and the typical image of the white-faced, red nosed clown carries a particular social significance of its own, entirely different from its intended meaning.

"Their Garden Of Delights is a terminal sewer... their Immortality Cosmic Consciousness and Love is second-run grade-B shit. Their drugs are poison designed to beam in Orgasm Death and Nova Ovens. Stay out of the Garden Of Delights..." - William S. Burroughs, quoted from "Nova Express."

Commonly, in American culture since the time of circuses, we have separated our clowns into several categories, but an important distinction is made between two characters, the Whiteface and the Auguste. The whiteface clown (similar in appearance to Bozo the Clown) is so named due to being completely covered in face-paint to give him a non-human appearance. He is a "total clown." To accentuate his otherness, a spherical foam nose is placed over his nose in order to add to a surreal, cartoonish appearance. Another trademark of the whiteface is oddly colored hair, and dark facial makeup placed over the initial layer of white greasepaint. His inhuman appearance suggests an otherworldly or even demonic origin, and his control over the Auguste via seemingly magical powers is a large source of the comedy emerging from their interactions. The Auguste is a more poetic figure, wearing perhaps a small amount of makeup that does not completely cover his face. The Auguste is long-suffering, just a fellow trying to get by who is constantly thwarted by the omnipotent and magical Whiteface. The whiteface's appearance is indeed fearful, evoking both the ghostly appearance of a human skull as well as a potentially non-human entity hiding behind a humanoid form. The whiteface mocks and teases, all the while standing superior to the Auguste, who simply cannot get ahead. The deck is stacked to high against him, there is only small victory in the retaining of some semblance of dignity.
The history of Bozo the Clown is the history of much of American business. A much disputed copyright over ownership of the character has become the stuff of bitter legal disputes, ultimately leaving the character's original creator in the dust and a man who assumed Bozo's identity as the one to get rich from all the clowning around. Bozo's move from Chicago television to the outside world via syndication and the national fame that came with it created a homogenized presentation of the whiteface that has since been the standard for our culture's understanding of what a clown is. The 1990 Stephen King television movie "It" (starring Tim Curry as Pennywise the Clown) features an evil, child-devouring clown who bears a close similarity to Bozo. In the 1970s and 1980s, dressing up as a clown to amuse children at parties was considered a respectable and not-unusual activity for adults. Famously, serial murderer John Wayne Gacy dressed up as "Pogo The Clown" in his spare time for this very purpose. His self-designed facial makeup is unusual in that the mouth goes up into sharp points, which are usually rounded off for the express purpose of not frightening children. The American rock group KISS, who have managed to have their faces grafted to everything from pinball machines to lunch boxes, strongly resemble a cross between traditional Japanese Kabuki make-up and the appearance of a skeletal, frightening whiteface clown. Rock stars often play the ultimate clowns- flaunting unconventional values while being held aloft by the very status quo that they mock. In many ways they are the whiteface, having magic and perfection, while the audience is the Auguste, the poor fellow who can't get what he wants under the thrall of those who seem to have it all.

"The increase in autistic children is believed by the authors (of this book) to be the result of increased trauma-based mind control..." - Fritz Springmeier, from "The Illuminati Formula To Create An Undetectable Mind Control Slave."

In the past few years, the Detroit hip-hop duo known as the Insane Clown Posse have become ubiquitous due to the ridiculous and comical nature of their loyal and highly visible fan base. The premise is simple: two men wearing stylized clown face paint (resembling KISS more so than, say, Bozo) act out strange fantasies about being part of a "Dark Carnival" that stands in judgment of all humanity. To this end, the duo tell stories about committing acts of extreme violence and depraved sexuality during the course of their albums, which often exceed one hour in length. The group has consistently managed to attract controversy over the course of its existence, and over the past decade has cultivated the devoted cult audience into a veritable nationwide phenomena. Their fans, called "Juggalos," are known for wearing face paint in public and can be identified by a tiny image of a dreadlocked man wielding a hatchet (usually seen as a sticker on their vehicle or even as a tattoo).

"Monarch slaves are threatened with fire, like the Scarecrow. They also see people dismembered like the Scarecrow was dismembered. For them it is not an idle threat. The front alters also have hearts full of pain like Scarecrow. Certain alters are not given courage and most have their hearts taken from them. The alters who are programmed not to have hearts are hypnotically told the same thing the Tin Man says, "I could be human if I only had a heart." ...Some alters are taught they are stupid and have no brain." - Fritz Springmeier, from "The Illuminati Formula To Create An Undetectable Mind Control Slave."

Since the dawn of this recent millennium, these Juggalos have gathered together once a year from all over the country to a large concert curated by the Insane Clown Posse (or ICP for short) called, fittingly enough, the "Gathering Of The Juggalos." Known for an association with the immortally uncool Vanilla Ice, and a humorously over-the-top cheesy promotional video, this event has been the subject of a great deal of mockery and derision since its original inception. It is a fitting reaction to hearing of a large group of people willingly imitating clowns and spraying cheap soda on each other, but these Juggalos are indeed serious about their allegiance to the other members of the group, as well as the values of the "Dark Carnival." They spray Faygo soda upon each other's bodies and commit acts of depravity both in their daily life and at the Juggalo festivals. Many of these young people have tattoos proclaiming their allegiance to the Insane Clown Posse, a sign of loyalty that shows a lifestyle decision going far beyond "favorite band" status for the wearer of the mark of the Juggalo.

"I love you white trash m*therf*ckers." - New Orleans hip-hop artist Master P speaking live to the audience of the 2012 Gathering of the Juggalos at Cave-In-Rock, Illinois

The Insane Clown Posse's two members have been accused by British researcher Jon Ronson of being closeted Evangelical Christians. The message of their Dark Carnival is that of representing a vengeful and angry force in judgement of humanity, represented by a higher power. Unlike many evangelicals, the duo speaks in a colloquial dialect filled with expletives, and brags gleefully about necrophilia. In many ways, on a larger scale the social phenomena that is represented by the Gathering Of Juggalos is a modern manifestation of the ancient Roman Saturnalia, in which citizens of the lowest classes were encouraged to behave in a debauched manner like common behaviour of the economic superiors. The social betters who defined the roles of ancient Western society in ancient times would momentarily allow the lower classes to have their time of partying and revelry in order to keep the masses in check. In this way, the audience becomes the clowns, for the amusement of those who would choose to stick around for the spectacle. Many in Roman society at the top were openly disdainful of the event, eagerly anticipating its end every year.
The FBI definition of Juggalos as a dangerous gang is misguided, as the Juggalo nation certainly resembles more a faith cult than a violent gang. In this world of cynicism and modernity, their allegiance to mania and male-dominated discourse is rare in its unwaveringness. It is typified by a passion and fury amounting to disconnect from the progressive elements that further a society. An odd faith in the justice and punishment defines their connection to an authority beyond those of Earth. The Dark Carnival is a postmodern nightmare blending religious rhetoric, commercial elements of underground music culture, and violent rhetoric for the creation of a self-deprecating nihilism that is seen by many as the death-knell of a particular strain of American Caucasoid popular culture. The message of these clowns plants an odd seed of morality in those who would otherwise be completely directionless. In this way, the Insane Clown Posse represents a powerful and necessary agent of social control, a codifying element that collects the detritus of white culture's discarded and confused dissenters.

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