ICP’s ‘Miracles’ and how they work
First, if you somehow missed it since its release on April 6, watch the video for Insane Clown Posse’s “Miracles”:
The video (post-produced in Michigan) has garnered more than 2.2 million YouTube views, a Saturday Night Live Parody (below) and a firestorm of responses — some positive, some negative, mostly, “What the fuck??”
“Miracles” even has its own Wikipedia entry now, apparently maintained by honest editors (a debate on the “Talk” page rages over whether or not the article should highlight the video’s viral Internet meme status).
Much of the criticism of the song has come from snarky commentators who are quick to compare ICP’s grasp of the definition of the word “miracle” with Alanis Morissette’s confused understanding of “Ironic.” MTV News did a breakdown of some of the miracles Shaggy 2 Dope and Violent J revere (Hot Lava, Niagra Falls, giraffes).
“The Milky Way is a barred spiral galaxy, just one of billions in the observable universe. Oh, and the candy bar it inspired is far from miraculous. A shooting star is fairly common astrological occurrence, little more than the visible path of a meteoroid as it enters the atmosphere. It doesn’t appear as though a ‘fucking’ shooting star is any different,” James Montgomery chides.
Daniel O’Brien of Cracked.com came out with a “Science textbook for Juggalos” written in Juggalo-speak (think overuse of the word “fuck”) and addressing the non-miraculous nature of the items listed in the song’s lyrics — all through the logic of science. O’Brien claims to be doing the Juggalo audience an educational favor, and on their own terms, too:
“Every lesson will be directly based on actual ICP lyrics, and every page will be packed with in-your-face juggalo clown-rage.”
It’s not uncommon for critics to toss cheap shots at ICP. Juggalos (as ICP fans are known) have been fodder for Internet jokes for some time. The band almost revels in its whipping-boy status with the mainstream media — not getting music critics’ props keeps the Dark Carnival juggalo-centric and somewhat underground.
Violent J told The New York Times,
“I get that that’s funny to an outsider. Everybody else that’s laughing at it, I put it like this: If it wasn’t so cold on the [outside], it wouldn’t be so warm on the inside with all the Juggalos. If there wasn’t so much hate on the outside, people not understanding and people dissing us, it wouldn’t be as special as it is with fans of the band. I think it’s hard to be a Juggalo.”
But this time out, ICP isn’t singing about shootings at the Dark Carnival or necrophiliac gang-bangs, and people just don’t know what to make of it. They seem to be wondering where the Faygo went. While ICP has kept its trademark clown face paint, critics can’t dismiss “Miracles” in the same way as the band’s usual over-the-top, sex- and violence-focused lyrics. Solution? Parody.
“Miracles” may appear ripe for mockery as Ryan Phillippe and Bobby Moynihan proved on SNL. But for all the ridicule, the original holds up. Violent J and Shaggy are so unabashedly un-ironic (in the true, not Morissettian sense) that their earnestness trumps all parody.
In an interview with The New York Times Arts Beat blog, Shaggy 2 Dope summed up the song’s mission:
“We don’t like to tell people exactly what the song means to us. If you tell them what it really means to you, that might switch their whole perspective of that song. A couple might be like, ‘That’s our song.’ Or, remember that the day they got out of jail, that was my jam. A summertime anthem, whatever. But that song right there, it’s about just appreciating the small things in life.”
On the surface, Violent J and Shaggy may seem like simple creatures, still awed by the world. But if you think about it, giraffes are pretty nuts from an evolutionary standpoint, and it’s more than a historical curiosity that the pyramids were built without use of the wheel.
ICP is willing to question what we consider miraculous and come out with an expanded definition. This makes them not stupid, but humble — something uncommon in contemporary hip-hop and especially in horrocore’s style. They’re simply expressing what we all might feel some of the time but are too jaded or bent on being cool to admit.
This is why the attempts to poke fun at them for being dimwitted clown brutes fall flat. ICP isn’t trying to be funny with “Miracles.” The duo is trying to make an honest, unromantic assessment of our world, and in doing so, they’re having the last laugh at all the haters.
Simone Landon is a Metro Times editorial intern.