Insane Clown Posse

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Insane Clown Posse, in 2017.
Time to put on some
Music
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Soundtrack
Musicians

Insane Clown Posse (Shaggy 2 Dope, aka Joseph Utsler (1974–), and Violent J, aka Joseph Bruce (1972–)), often shortened to ICP, are a Detroit hip-hop duo, who also are professional wrestling promoters[1] and evangelical Christian preachers.[note 1][4] They specialize in a particular over-the-top violent, transgressive hip-hop style known as "horrorcore"Wikipedia's W.svg.

History[edit]

Insane Clown Possee was formed in 1989 in Detroit, Michigan. Originally known as "Inner City Posse", the duo decided to adopt a cartoon-ish persona in 1991 and remake themselves as two insane clowns. In a case of clear serendipity, the mid-1990s were an era where cartoon-ish metal bands such as Green JellÿWikipedia's W.svg and GWARWikipedia's W.svg (the latter of which used similar over-the-top violence in their elaborate stage shows) were enjoying strong cult popularity. This was enough to garner ICP a major label record deal in 1997. For a few brief years, they flirted with semi-mainstream popularity, playing the ill-fated Woodstock '99Wikipedia's W.svg and engaging in several headline-grabbing fights and other shenanigans with various other rappers and bands. By the early 2000s, they were no longer on a major label. Generally speaking, their music was poorly received (often described as the "worst ever")[5], with critics characterizing their rapping as a slew of "secondhand misogyny, grade-Z gore, sexual insecurity and klutzy rhymes".[6] However, their time in the spotlight allowed them to develop a significant cult following, with a strong subculture (maintaining cult popularity to this day) that is probably better known than the music itself.[7]

Fandom[edit]

Hardcore fans of Insane Clown Posse are known as Juggalos.Wikipedia's W.svg For the most part, Juggalos can be seen as an extended, strong music fandom,Wikipedia's W.svg similar to, say, "deadhead" fans of the Grateful Dead,Wikipedia's W.svg but with far less LSD and far more clown makeup and Faygo.Wikipedia's W.svg[8][9] Unfortunately, a small subset of Juggalo fandom engages in violent behavior and other gang-like activity, enough for the Federal Bureau of InvestigationWikipedia's W.svg to (perhaps with a whiff of moral panic)[10] classify them as a "loosely organized hybrid gang". [11] That being said, despite a few gangs borrowing Juggalo imagery, a few non-gang related incidents of notoriety (notably an incident in 2010 at the annual "Gathering of the Juggalos"Wikipedia's W.svg festival where rapper Tila TequilaWikipedia's W.svg was pelted with rocks and bottles during her performance[12]), and the atypical sex-and-drugs shenanigans that can occur at the larger ICP festivals,[13] the vast majority of the Juggalo community could best be described as "mostly harmless".[14]

The "gang" classification caused some predictable harassment against Juggalos by law enforcement, as well as some child custody and employment issues. Due to this, ICP and the ACLU unsuccessfully tried to sue the FBI to get this classification removed. Ultimately, this culminated in a Juggalo march on Washington D.C. in 2017.[15] The march took place on the same day as a Donald Trump rally labeled the "mother of all rallies", with The Guardian noting that not only did the Juggalo rally far outdraw the Trump rally, there was a huge contrast between the "upbeat, open-minded" nature of the Juggalo rally, and the Trump rally where supporters were babbling about "Hillary Clinton's emails (and) the need to 'take our country back'".[16]

ICP have commendably taken strong stances against racism, both in their music and within the Juggalo community.[17][18] On the other hand, their culture has often been criticized for being misogynistic and "increasingly hostile toward women".[19]

Insane Clown Posse on Science[edit]

"Scientists go, 'I've got an explanation for that.' It's like, fuck you! I like to believe it was something out of this world."
—Violent J[4]
" I'm glad that when my kids get strep throat, their doctor doesn't say, "(Bleeping) antibiotics, how do they work?""
—John Keilman[20]

In 2010, ICP took a small break from rapping about over-the-top depictions of gore to create the song "Miracles".[21] Purportedly a reflective song of the marvels of everyday life, the song became their best known song for all the wrong reasons, infamous for its lyrics[22] that seemed to both celebrate ignorance and trash science and knowledge. The song's lyrics wallow in a sort of "God of the gaps" logical fallacy, albeit one in which even things that have had scientific explanations for centuries are now "miracles" for some reason.[23] Lines like "fucking magnets, how do they work?" and "And I don't wanna talk to a scientist / Y'all motherfuckers lying, and getting me pissed" became infamously repeated and spread on the Internet, to the point where Know Your MemeWikipedia's W.svg documented the phenomenon in a YouTube video. [24]

ICP responded to the criticism in a peculiarly anti-intellectual way, dismissing "factual findings" that "explain away the Earth's cool mysteries", and called their critics "big dumb, popular jocks ganging up on the little class clown scrub, when they have no idea the scrub is really a highly skilled, deadly, ninja assassin capable of cleaning their fuckin' clocks."[note 2][25] Oh, and of course they were just trollin' and the backlash was anticipated and planned.[26] Right.

Helpfully, an author at Cracked.com created an article to help Juggalos "Learn Their Motherf#@kin' Science" to help explain the scientific explanation behind all of the "miracles" in the song, parodying the foul-mouthed lyrical style of ICP. [27] Less helpfully, ICP responded to hackerspaceWikipedia's W.svg group Noisebridge'sWikipedia's W.svg attempt to teach science to ICP fans waiting in line for a San Francisco ICP show by threatening them with physical violence.[28]

Fucking magnets, how do they really work?[edit]

Without getting too quantum,[29] Bill Nye helpfully explains magnetism (and also surprisingly has an opinion about Insane Clown Posse, too).

Notes[edit]

  1. Christian clowning is nothing new,[2] and Christian hip hop dates back to the 1980s.[3] So, this is not as surprising as one might think.
  2. Can we get a "Fuckin' clocks, how do they work?"

References[edit]

  1. Juggalo Championship Wrestling, TV Tropes.
  2. For 'Clown Ministry,' Laughter Is Gospel by Leo H. Carney (Nov. 26, 1989) The New York Times.
  3. See the Wikipedia article on Christian hip hop.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Insane Clown Posse: And God created controversy by Jon Ronson, The Guardian, 2010 October 8
  5. "The 50 Worst Artists in Music History", Blender Magazine, September 2003
  6. "Review: The Amazing Jeckel Brothers" by Barry Walters, Rolling Stone, 1999 June 10
  7. "Insane Clown Posse biography" by John Bush, Allmusic.com
  8. "How a Fan Makes a Band – Meet the Juggalos of Colorado", Jessica Rendall, 2019 September 17
  9. "The Juggalos Are the Forgotten Men and Women of America: Podcast" by Nick Gillespie and Ian Keyser, Reason, 2017 September 21
  10. "It's a crime to love Insane Clown Posse" by Johnny Sharp, The Guardian, 2011 November 2
  11. "FBI releases declassified report on Insane Clown Posse gang threat", Alex Young, Consequence of Sound, 2018 July 11
  12. "Insane Clown Posse Talk Tila Tequila, Method Man Incidents at The Gathering" by Kyle Anderson, MTV.com, 2019 March 9
  13. "The Juggalo Cult" by Bill McMorris, Washington Free Beacon, 2013 August 14
  14. "The Juggalos Marched For Their Rights. Will They March For Yours?" by Scaachi Koul, Buzzfeed News, 2017 September 20
  15. "The Insane Clown Posse’s Juggalo March on Washington, explained" by Dylan Matthews, Vox.com, 2017 September 15
  16. "Juggalos march on Washington: ‘We’re a family not a gang'" by Adam Gabbatt, TheGuardian.com, 2017 September 17
  17. "Confederate Flag" by Insane Clown Posse, lyrics archived at genius.com
  18. "Juggalos have become the darlings of the left and the new face of anti-racist activism" by Jack Smith IV, Mic.com, 2017 September 13
  19. "The Juggalos Marched For Their Rights. Will They March For Yours?" by Scaachi Koul, Buzzfeed News, 2017 September 20
  20. "Rappers' ode to 'miracles' taps into anti-science angst", John Keilman, Chicago Tribune
  21. "Insane Clown Posse - Miracles", Youtube.com
  22. "Insane Clown Posse - Miracles - Lyrics", AZLyrics.com
  23. "Insane Clown Posse: a magnet for ignorance" by Louis Pattison, The Guardian, 2010 Aug 18
  24. "Know Your Meme: Miracles" by Know Your Meme (2011 May 19) YouTube (archived copy)
  25. "BEHOLD: Insane Clown Posse Respond To ‘Miracles’ Criticism", Akira the Don blog, 2010 April 27
  26. "Kidding the Clowns Online, but Who Will Laugh Last?" By Dave Itzkoff, New York Times, 2010 April 29
  27. "Learn Your Motherf#@kin' Science: A Textbook for Juggalos" by Daniel O'Brien, Cracked.com, 2010 April 9
  28. "Noisebridge Attempts to Teach Science To Juggalos at Insane Clown Posse Show In San Francisco" by Doctor Popular, Laughing Squid, 2010 June 18
  29. "The Magnetism of Matter", Lecture 34, The Feyman Lectures on Physics