While watching this video for the Insane Clown Posse’s “Gathering of the Juggalos,” which is hilarious for a million reasons, it occurred to me how incongruous an infomercial for “the most controversial music festival in the world!” is. This event, which is for people who are on the periphery of society, and probably pretty comfortably so, is a sort bacchanalian festival of low-brow fun. Now, far be it from me to judge other people’s hobbies- every so often I sit in Barnes & Noble and read an entire graphic novel or two, but the juxtaposition of the all of these stridently offensive activities with the most banal of huckster mediums is just ridiculous.
This is the fun side of free market capitalism, if there is some market gravy out there- no matter how absurd or distasteful- someone will be willing to sop it up. Now people having been doing dirty deeds since before capitalism was even dreamed up, but it only gets silly once people start to run it like a business. Las Vegas used to be this great mix of class and seediness out in the desert. Now you can probably get your hooker comped if your pit boss likes you.
Even this particular brand of merchandising evil isn’t new, Hot Topic was first to turn disenfranchisement into cold hard cash. It always seemed weird to me that all the kids who don’t fit in had to shop at the same store, like the bizarro world Abercrombe & Fitch, but I guess when you let your freak flag fly you are really just trying to attract like minded individuals. Still, this infomercial is particular shameless in its pandering. I wonder how a person can still think they are being subversive after seeing all that spectacle wrapped up in a poorly tied bow* (seriously, Sugar Slam is the worst actress ever, woot woot), but maybe I am underestimating the mental gymnastics people go through in order to feel a sense of community. Comic-Con was this week, I’ve been to Bonnaroo, and I’ve even watched reality television just to have something to talk about around the water cooler. So maybe it’s easy to mock, and man is it easy to mock, but its hard to begrudge the “family” making its way to the “Gathering of the Juggalos.”
* I must restate again, how unbelievably poorly made this video is. At one point they list the other virtues of the festival and it includes: (presumably evil) hay rides, “dudes on stilts,” the human cannonball and carnival rides. The Dark Carnival, where everyone is a sideshow freak!