RIP Gathering of the Juggalos

The Insane Clown Posse has released their newest informercial in advance of the yearly Gathering of the Juggalos.  Past years have seen their videos play out like real informercials with mechanical narration and awesome quotes about how attending the Gathering is probably a lot like Muslims visiting Mecca.  You can’t argue with logic like that.  What you can argue with is the fact it seems the ICP have lost their touch.

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The sad fact is, ICP and the Gathering have become more and more mainstream over the years. It’s not necessarily their fault, they’ve just fallen prey to a kind of freakshow curiosity that normal folk have about such things.  A group of misfits in clown make up at a campgrounds listening to loud and (arguably) terrible music while getting wasted and having fun?  Well it sounds weird!  So what was once a pretty underground event gets more and more attention.  Media shows up and sites like Break and Buzzfeed give you picture galleries of the folks who are there, maybe VICE sends a guy to hang out for the weekend, someone films a documentary, maybe the show Workaholics bases an entire episode around the concept.  And suddenly the Gathering is in the mainstream consciousness.  It’s a thing we all know about and, to an outsider, it’s just another Warped Tour or Lollapalooza. 

In past years the informercials sold you with powerful and obscene narration, promises of hot dogs and skanky girls, dirty people and absolutely terrible special effects, all meant to reinforce the idea that the Gathering was not mainstream and that you were different and better than “normal” folks by attending.  This is and always has been the shtick that makes the Gathering and Juggalos as a whole work – the idea they they’re a special community, a family, that is unique and good. 

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This year, in 2013, the lengthy infomercial is run by the ICP themselves rather than some sidekicks and is presented like a CNN news report that needs more editing than a Stephen King novel.  The awkward dialogue is apparently entirely unscripted and often rambles into incoherent non-sequiturs or jokes that fall flat because no one took the time to script this thing or ponder a better way to present the information that wasn’t so soul-suckingly dull.  It’s so uninteresting that it prompts you to use the term “non-sequiturs” when describing it.

After so many years with so many of the same acts, there’s just nothing left to say about the Gathering, it seems, but not only do they keep saying it, they say it longer than they did the year before.  They fell into the trap of falling in love with the idea of what they do, of making it a spectacle, a parody of themselves in the vein of SNL (which already parodied these videos years ago), seemingly without realizing it.  The sincerity is gone, it’s forced now.  They’re trying to be funny, trying to be clever, and the result is the exact opposite.

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The Gathering of the Juggalos, in the parlance of the 90s when this all started, has jumped the shark.

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– Ian (Follow on Twitter)