Sunday, March 11, 2012

Defending My Ninjas

This week I was left in a horrible situation; I had no games of Words with Friends to play and I was no where near finished TCB'ing in the bathroom. I decided to head over the ESPN's Grantland to pass the time. Immediately I came upon an article entitled "A Brief Journey Into the Dark Heart of JuggaloBook" by Rembert Browne. I should have just kept moving and read a different article. I would have saved myself a hell of a lot of time and effort that way, especially since I could have already told you exactly what the article was about. Over the last couple of years a tried and true checklist for mocking Juggalos seems to have made its way around the internet and almost every article I have read fits it perfectly, Browne's article certainly did.

Make fun of Juggalo Slang - Check
Include a clip to the video of Miracles - Check
Insinuate that Juggalos are stupid, racist or both - Check

That's pretty much all you need to do. Throw in a couple of easy jokes about being called Ninja or how your life is in danger for exposing the Juggalos and your article is done. Browne decided to throw in some shots at TeamBreezy for good measure and that was that. I'm not saying that it was a bad article, it wasn't. Despite the relative quality of the article I have two enormous problems with the article; it's an incredibly lazy article to write and more importantly why bother attacking Juggalos at all? I feel that I've already made the point as to why it's so lazy, essentially all Browne did was follow the same pattern that other writers have been using for a while. It's the second point that I find so intriguing and I feel I have a pretty unique point of view to address it from for I am the Defender of the Juggalos.

When I first saw the 20 minute infomercial for The Gathering of the Juggalos a few years back I never thought that I would be standing up for Juggalos, certainly not in public. Like most people I thought that it was hilarious and I made fun of it to no end. Especially the part when they advertised guys on stilts. When have "guys on stilts" ever been used as a selling point for an event? I joked about how I wanted to go and that it would be an amazing thing to write about. I'm pretty sure I said that I wanted to be the Hunter S Thompson of the Juggalos. A couple of years later I was actually given the opportunity to attend The Gathering and write a feature for Inked Magazine about my ordeal. (Self promotion===>

When I showed up in Cave in Rock for The Gathering I was fully prepared to write an article eviscerating the stupidity of Juggalos and their little party in the middle of nowhere. When Jimmy and I (Jimmy is codenamed George in the article) pulled onto the grounds it was the culture shock of a life time. Waking up in Beijing was nothing compared to the sense of alienation I felt when I hopped into a golf cart with a publicist from Pychopathic Records for a tour of the premises. By the end of the weekend I was so comfortable that I felt like I had always belonged.

That's not to say that my opinion of the music changed, I still find listening to ICP only slightly preferable to being deaf. What changed radically was my opinion of Juggalos. Every person that I had met when I was there was welcoming and incredibly nice. Even though it was abundantly clear that I was an outsider they still took me in. Almost everyone had a pretty cool story about how they had ended up at The Gathering, whether it be explaining how they had to hitchhike the last 100 miles or the reasons they ended up liking ICP in the first place. I'm sure the mass quantities of alcohol and drugs helped everyone open up a little bit more with each other but that's to be expected. What was completely unexpected was the complete absence of the other side effect those substances bring about, violence. I guess that's not completely true in that there was the incident with Tila Tequila getting everything under the sun thrown at her on stage. I don't think that's something that would only happen with Juggalos though, remember Green Day at Woodstock and all the mud flinging? Other than the Tequila thing I did not see a single fight the entire weekend. Not one.

Yet whenever someone sets out to write an article about Juggalos they pick on them in a way that is probably pretty similar to the abuse Juggalos received in high school, so I guess it's all just one big circle. People talk about how violent Juggalos are yet in my travels I saw far less violence than I would out in Wrigleyville after a game. People talk about the racism that is prevalent among Juggalos, I certainly saw none of it. I met Asian, Hispanic, Black and White Juggalos and they all seemed to be getting along. It certainly wasn't like walking through the infield of a NASCAR race filled with only white faces and confederate flags flying from campers. (I know I shouldn't be refuting one stereotype with another but it's the truth.) More than anything I certainly wouldn't classify Juggalos as being stupid. Would I pick a bunch of Juggalos if I was trying to assemble a nuclear power plant? Hell no. I doubt I would pick very many of my friends for such a task either. People are just people, there are smart ones, dumb ones and a lot in the middle. Juggalos were no different. You may think that it's silly to listen to ICP (as I do) but acting intellectually superior because you prefer listening to the Magnetic Fields is far more idiotic.

Yet for some reason people still seem to have a fascination with picking on and making fun of Juggalos. I just don't get it. We've made every joke there was to make 15 times already, nothing new is coming out of this. Sure, Browne's article is concerning a new social networking site for Juggalos, but all of the jokes are exactly the same. Despite their penchant for talking a big game we all know that Juggalos are harmless, isn't picking on them kind of like picking on the kid with the back brace? You can disguise it as being a social experiment but to me it really seems like an excuse to bully a bunch of strangers. I may have not matured in most facets on my life but I'm damn sure I outgrew bullying when I was in 8th grade.

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