Marketing Research, How Does it Work?

The Insane Clown Posse has long been a defying musical trends to much success. This is a snippet of an article appearing in Music at the Extremes, edited by Scott Wilson.

ICP isn’t exclusively for a teen fan base. Many Juggalos have affiliated as such for years and have actively participated in the merchandise marketplace. As one fan on PsychopathicTraders noted, “There was also a lot LESS of stuff back when we were kids, and it was a lot harder to come by. Plus we were all like 16-20 and juggling stuff. Now dropping $400 isn’t 3 months of extra shifts.”[1] Regardless of age, ICP gives fans the ability to create their own identity and a larger ‘family’ to identify with. The economic boom of the 1990s allowed ICP to flourish, as it was easier to encourage customers to purchase merchandise. However, even times of economic hardship, especially for those along the low-to-middle economic rungs, American citizens have largely “been trained to desire, to want new things…man’s desires must overshadow his needs.”[2] Ironically, though this process of consumption, people become docile because their needs for individuality are met through the purchase of seemingly individualized products. Ultimately, through commodity can one seemingly express themselves, albeit in a homogenized manner. Fans feel that they can purchase their way into a unique community that seemingly operates on the margins of society, however, they do so in a highly commodified manner which propels them back into the society they wish to remove themselves from. Being a part of the Juggalo family is not limited and not exclusive to those that have purchased branded memorabilia.

Not all fans of Insane Clown Posse choose to dress in clothing and accessories associated with the band. There is actually a movement of fans which seeks to disassociate themselves from the more evangelical fans. While they may occasionally purchase some ICP-related items, they reject fans that choose to completely immerse themselves in the band culture. While to some, ICP is simply a band that creates music, others choose to completely engage in the experience that the band offers. For those fans ICP offers “elaborate folklore” and mythology through its Joker’s Cards and Dark Carnival themes, as well as a self-identifying community to relate to.[3] “Hardcore” Juggalos are known for speaking in the lingo of the music, referring to others as “ninjas”, claiming to go “chicken hunting” (roughly translates to fighting bigotry), or believing in the “dark carnival” as a religious ideology.  As some fans sincerely believe that the community of Juggalos constitutes a family, they are very protective of their identity and the community’s identity. To outsiders, the connection to the Juggalo community is often seen as an alienating force; however, from within the organization, Juggalos see their community—the Juggalo family—as a “dis-alienating, liminal utopia of human freedom, creativity, and egalitarianism…a critical source of positive meaning for its audiences’ everyday life needs.”[4] For example, the Gathering of the Juggalos, ICP’s annual multiple-day concert and camping extravaganza for fans draws acts other than ICP to the stage. However, true to the outsider status that ICP and its fan base claims, only certain types of celebrity hosts are considered, specifically those that “everybody’s making fun of” like Charlie Sheen.[5]  As Bruce states, “I think if you’re currently blowing up, if you’re the mainstream’s favorite, you could never play the Gathering. But if you’ve had it once, if the world is pointing its finger at you, judging you, criticizing you, then you’re OK by the Juggalos.”[6] In regards to booking Charlie Sheen, Shaggy 2 Dope said, “He’s a big underdog, which is part of being a Juggalo. It wasn’t a money issue; everybody thinks we’re paying him out the ass and we’re not. He’s doing it for…whatever he’s doing it for.” Ultimately it is the outsider, alienated status that the mainstream music scene gives to ICP that allows fans who also feel they operate on the periphery a legitimate community, and a relatable cadre of underdog celebrities, to belong to.

Ironically, it is the rabid fan base that actually keeps some others from buying the merchandise or participating in any public way. Surveying online commentary about the Insane Clown Posse reveals that while some admit that they enjoy the musical stylings of the Insane Clown Posse, often referring to them as a “guilty pleasure,” [7] they don’t want to be associated with Juggalos. ‘“I think their biggest problem is that most of their fans act like idiots, and way over-obsessed…Instead of practicing the message of being a non-conformist that is a major subject of ICP and Twiztid’s music, they themselves become the very sheep they claim to be rebelling against.”[8] Even Juggalos who have shown their appreciation for the band by being tattooed with the hatchetman logo also find themselves pulling away: “I really like ICP and have a Hatchet Man tattoo. But I would never act like those stereotypical Juggalo people you see around who shout ‘whoop whoop’ and all that stuff.”[9] Others refuse to even entertain the notion: “I can’t. It’s not the band really, it’s just the fan base. I mean mother of god.”[10] Another commentator puts it in perspective: “ICP suffer[s] from their fan base, they’re not a great group at all honestly, but the backlash they receive is largely in part to the Juggalos who are the most revered and comical fan base in all of music.”[11]

 

[1] Counterfeit God, 1-17-14 http://www.psychopathictraders.com/forums/showthread.php?tid=12728

[2]    Lieu Thi 2009, 91.

[3]    Halnon 2006, 38.

[4]    Halnon 2006, 35.

[5] Graff 2011

[6]    Krovatin 2011

[7] KSalavante, 12-4-12, http://forum.nin.com/bb/read.php?30,1418926,1420350

[8] Dennis Stamp, 1-21-2011, http://officialfan.proboards.com/thread/360274/insane-clown-posse

[9] GibbonBlack, 10-19-2013 http://www.echoingthesound.org/community/threads/2571-Insane-Clown-Posse

[10] Tony.parente, 10-19-2013, http://www.echoingthesound.org/community/threads/2571-Insane-Clown-Posse

[11] Kid Charlemange, 10-20-2013, 10-19-2013, http://www.echoingthesound.org/community/threads/2571-Insane-Clown-Posse

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