You may not be aware, but there is a three-way battle waging in our midst. The FBI is trying to classify juggalos -- the most rabid and Fagyo-swilling of all Insane Clown Posse fans -- as a gang. The juggalos, understandably, are miffed, as are, perhaps less understandably, headier outlets, such as the Atlantic and Wired.
In a piece titled "The FBI Might Be A Little Too Scared Of The Juggalos," Atlantic writer Philip Bump excerpts choice details of the recently-exposed 11-month federal investigation into the so-called gang activity of juggalos, before sick-burning the doddering old fools who worked on it with a reference to a favorite touchstone of people who read about juggalos, Camille Dodero's "definitive" 2010 piece for the Village Voice:
It depicts that year's Gathering of the Juggalos and features a large group of drunk, stoned young people unbound by social conventions. It depicts a modern version of an old story: young people rebelling against the man.
That being the case, it appears that the FBI was just playing its proper role.
Ok. But to extend Bump's analogy, aren't young people the worst sometimes? Do a Google News search (no doubt investigative move number one over at the Bureau), and the results boomeranged back for "juggalo" are studies in medieval battle ax stabbings and Tila Tequila stonings.
So why are the Bumps of the world mocking the FBI's fear? Because they are students of Juggalo Journalism, a relatively new branch of learning. Christened in 2011 by a Forbes writer, Juggalo Journalism explores all levels of the juggalo psyche -- from a basic, carefree love of whippets, to a deeper, vaguer, concern for all of humankind. These essays, films and listicles are endless in number, if limited in conceit. They're almost exclusively set in Cave-In-Rock, Illinois, where the yearly Gathering of the Juggalos takes place. Juggalos and juggalettes, these anthropological studies tell us, are not so bad. They have families and dreams. They like to flash chests and be flashed at by chests. They're kind of bad, ok, but they're definitely not a gang.
Mostly these links are passed around by internet writers who talk about how Camille did it better, but maybe they can serve a more useful purpose, like educating the FBI on why not to persecute a perfectly harmless, only occasionally murderous group.
Here are the most famous titles in the canon.
1. "Live from Insane Clown Posse's Gathering of the Juggalos": Who knows if Dodero's eight-page opus is the "definitive" word in juggalo reportage (can there ever be one?), but it's a mighty fun read, and the one to reference at dinner parties (with people who are not juggalos, but who know about them).
2. "American Juggalo": Movie time! Director Sean Dunne traveled to Cave-In-Rock and came away with objective footage of juggalos in the wild. The documentary runs just under a half hour, which is about as long as you need.
3. When Juggalos attack: A firsthand account of the Tila Tequila incident at the Gathering Of The Juggalos: Nathan Rabin of the A.V. Club ventured to Cave-In-Rock to research his third book, and wound up watching Tila Tequila get pelted with glass bottles. Journalism ensued.
4. American Juggalo: Kent Russell's take on the Gathering in n+1 set a lyrical standard most Juggalo Journalism does not live up to. While Russell was among those called out for knocking off Dodero's year-earlier piece, he did the important work of Establishing A Trend.
5. 89 Things I Learned At The Gathering Of The Juggalos: Matt Stopera's very BuzzFeedy approach to his Gathering experience is refreshing for its lack of analysis, not usually a hallmark characteristic of Juggalo Journalism.
6. In The Land Of The Juggalos: A Juggalo Is King: Way back in 2008, Vice Magazine and the juggalo community began a storied love affair when writer Thomas Morton dropped in to ponder who has been more persecuted historically: the juggalo or the Jew.
7. Crazy Clown Time: The History Of Gathering Of The Juggalos: In 2012, Spin Magazine polled juggalo historians far and wide, to document only the facts. "For the first time anywhere, here's the story of all 13 Gatherings, straight from the clowns' mouths."