Don’t even get me started on Crazy Snake Collective
Don’t Bury the Hatchet Just Yet
Story is, really quick, that this 18-year-old kid from New Bedford, Mass., Jacob Robida, went ripshit through a gay bar with a hatchet, chopping dudes for thirty seconds, really gritty stuff. After that he fled the state and made his way down to Arkansas, got caught up in police shootout, killed a cop, then lost his own life.
Piecing together his family history, interests, apparently nutso myspace profile, etc., and making connections from the crime to the symbology, detectives et al. found out Robida was an enormous ICP fan–considered himself a Juggalo. The term means “ICP fan” more or less, and according to the wiki entry, it debuted when one of the ICP members asked the audience at a show if there were any juggalos out there; somebody decided yes, there are juggalos out here, and it took off from there.
Despite the band’s insane clown shtick–serial killer clowns who kill those who deserve to be killed–juggaloism’s a self-reportedly non-violent music-centric subculture, no code except to “stay true to yourself” and other sorts of truisms. They paint their faces like clowns, which to me seems like a good self-selecting mechanism–if you like a band so much, get them, that you’re willing to walk around town looking like that, writing Dark Carnival on all your school binders, and calling the “condition you get for eating too much pussy” (love it) “Pink Eye.” The fact that the band lets the fans dictate the terms of Juggalodom, giving them “Joker Cards” (their albums, which comprise the teachings and prophecies of the Dark Carnival, which is ICP’s supreme being) but not explicitly laying down the law–this is nothing but good business sense, especially when you’re in the business of fantastically violent lyrics and anger unmanagement–Shaggy said it best.
Thing is, Robida’s was a hatchet gig, and the logo of ICP’s label Psychopathic Records is the Hatchetman, “seen on everything Psychopathic Records.” Psychopathic Records also throws big parties, has whole lines of Hatchet Gear, and even its own wrestling league (Juggalo Championshit Wrestling)–they are, in their words, “the label that runs beneath the streets.”
Too strong a connection, which is probably why the band made sure to play the “we’re just entertainers!” card, and felt obligated to distance themselves from the Robida incident. Band manager Alex Abbiss posted on their website:
ICP has sold millions of records, and when you start dealing with numbers that large, it's not that unlikely that one of those purchasers may have already been suffering from some form of mental illness.
The perpetrator of this crime may have thought that he was a Juggalo. But clearly, after further review, it's quite obvious that this guy had no clue what being a Juggalo is all about. If anyone knows anything at all about ICP, then you know that they have never, ever been down or will be down with any racist or bigotry bullshit.
and as for “what a Juggalo really is”:
Juggalos are just like any other kind of people. They share a common bond, through their music and culture. They like to gather together all the time and hang out with one another. They do this among themselves, and they also come out in hordes for our annual Gathering of the Juggalos. They rarely fight or have problems with one another. They stay down with each other and consider one another to be family. Even though many of them have started off with very little, or nothing at all, they do the best they can to live their lives each and every single day and in general, they are very good people, not to be looked down upon but to be respected by the rest of society.
And even beyond that, the Juggalo wiki entry curiously makes no mention of the Robida incident, as if the information is quickly removed so as not to indict the other Juggalos–a pretty great example of the factual dangers/history vs. his-story stuff that Rachel Aviv talked about in her big wiki roundup a few weeks back.
Even if ICP were Robida’s inspiration for the style of violence, obviously we can’t blame them, fair enough. Naturally people point out the similarities, trying to make sense of how and why this happened, and it must be at least somewhat flattering to ICP for the media to think that “Night of the Axe”–with that “I went psychopathic/ Chopping throats with a hatchet”–inspired something more than a headbang or away message.
But maybe I do have issues with this “killing those who deserve to be killed,” “punishing the wicked” look ICP pushes–slippery slope to be on just aesthetic terms, when they refuse to flesh it out into a bona fide creed. They want the benefits of being cult leaders/prophets ($$$ power respect) but shirk the responsibility, defining themselves negatively, as happened here: so apparently gays aren’t part of the wicked. Check.
Meanwhile it’s this total Lord of the Flies moment on Juggalo Island, nobody excited about setting rules for membership beyond the face paint and “getting what ICP are really about,” such that hey, maybe it is completely believable for a Juggalo to take punishment of the wicked into his own hands, set his own terms, etc.–I just don’t see why this isn’t a logical conclusion of a cult that indulges in self-ostracization, puts a few extra chips on its shoulder and revels in violent imagery but also being true to yourself… if the Robida had gotten away with it, would this have been some sort of triumph, expression of devotion to the cause, etc.? What if it wasn’t a gay bar, but a meeting of the Ku Klux Klan–would that have made this ok? Turns out, maybe Juggalos don’t designate what being a Juggalo is about too concretely, precisely so they can say, when the choppers crash their fantasy land, “that’s not what being a Juggalo is about.”