DOXA 2012: American Juggalo checks out a devoted fandom
American Juggalo (USA)
If the average documentary disappoints you because it doesn’t offer enough in the way of smeared clown makeup, sunburned man boobs, and nasal hardware, your ship has come in. American Juggalo spends 23 fascinating minutes among the hammered at the Gathering of the Juggalos, the four-day outdoor music festival held every August in rural Cave-in-Rock, Illinois.
There’s nothing in this funny old world quite like the Gathering. It’s as if a traditional state fair slugged back a bunch of Caribou Lou, had blackout sex with a hippie jam, and produced some weird offspring that spoke a slurred form of urban slang and worshipped pro wrestling. At the centre of it all is Insane Clown Posse, the remorselessly unlistenable hip-hop act whose followers—the Juggalos—easily match Deadheads in fixated fandom.
ICP doesn’t appear in American Juggalo, and in this respect the film is similar to the short it’s hooked up with on the DOXA bill: Heavy Metal Parking Lot, a legendary 1986 piece that interviews shitfaced youth outside a Judas Priest concert in Maryland. But an equally useful comparison would be to 1970’s Woodstock, and not just because of all the pastoral vomiting.
Like their long-haired forebears, the Juggalos on camera here talk a mix of flat-out hedonism and universal tolerance. As one of them memorably puts it, “There is no bigatory in juggaloism” (even though there is plenty of titties-and-beer misogyny). Then again, whenever they set down the alcohol hose or nitrous-oxide balloon to reflect on the values that bring them to the Gathering every year, they come up with words like home and family and trustworthy, all of which might have struck Woodstock’s faux revolutionaries as too domestic, too close to the hated mainstream.
In this sense, American Juggalo shows just how far that mainstream, in its current cheap-credit-addled, Wi-Fi-fixated form, has fallen short of its own professed ideals, and how far these occasionally scary castoffs have gone to revive them.
DOXA presents American Juggalo on May 9 at 6 p.m. at the Pacific Cinémathèque.