Sunday, February 1, 2015

Hatchet man

I have been noticing a trend around my campus which I have very mixed feelings about, and which ties into a sub-culture I also have/had mixed feelings about. I have noticed in my somewhat limited travels around campus no less than five instances of cars bearing a decal of hatchet man, and at least have a dozen t-shirt/hoodies bearing the same. While this is not a bad thing in and of its self it gives me pause because of the meaning behind that logo and the context I now see it in. for those not following me, hatchet man is a character associated with a band called ICP, Insane Clown Posse and the fanatic sub-cultural group they spawned, the Juggalos.
 ICP as a group started as a group in the late 80s, early 90s under a couple different names but gained its following when their lyrics became very violent and aggressive, but in sort of a funny way. They coined the genre name horrorcore hip hop with lyrics describing many situations in which evil does get what they deserve in brutal ways. Those described were typically ones many believe are people and entities meant just to keep everyone else down, a very anti-establishment message. The Juggalo culture evolved from there as a culture that patterned itself so that mainstream would never be able to embrace them. They would be loud, violent, painted faced, and profane to a level where they would never be accepted. Some took it further, Juggalo friends I had said they believed it was their cause to exact violent retribution on people like rapists and pedophiles the way ICP did in their lyrics. So what became of this new untamable sub-culture? That I'm not sure at this point. I do know ICP signed with a major record label, made a very flashy music video, did a guest spot on WWE Monday night RAW, and for some reason even an interview with Penthouse. I also know that after all this the only time one would ever hear of Juggalos it was in a very piteous, laughable light and that trend continues to this day.
I have been reading stuff recently about the concept of Hegemony. This is the concept first observed by Italian intellectual Antonio Gramsci where he realized that the ruling class has created ways of controlling the common man to where they actively allow themselves to be controlled. Some, like James Lull, believe this concept it so important that the fall of the communist union was due to a breakdown in this system. But it would seem from the story of ICP and the Juggalos that American hegemony systems have found a way to control even those who see they are being controlled and are trying to resist. And now the culture who opposed establishment and control has been reduced to a corporate logo you can buy online. So TLDR, do those I see around campus who use this logo realize that the culture who spawned it would beat them half to death for using it and not following its ideals.


  1. To what extent does one have to participate in Juggalo rituals and ideas to wear the Hatchetman with honor? I'm just curious whether just listening to ICP is enough or if the culture requires a greater deal of contribution.

  2. OH wow I thought I would never hear of Juggalos again! The middle school I went to had a few students who dressed like what is considered 'Juggalo' attire such as baggy pants with chains and lots of black clothing. I really never understood the fascination with their music or the meaning behind it either but I find your post interesting because this is a symbol that I have grown up seeing in my hometown.