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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

question of the day: Is Insane Clown Posse for real with their “Miracles” video?

My brother Ken forced me to watch this over the weekend, because he thought I’d find it hilarious. So I watched. It bored me, then I started to find it pathetic, and then it made me angry. Take a look:


This is one of the most aggressively ignorant things I’ve ever seen, and what’s worse is that it’s proud of its ignorance, and willfully embraces continued ignorance:

Fucking magnets, how do they work?
And I don’t wanna talk to a scientist
Y’all motherfuckers lying, and getting me pissed

(The full lyrics are here, if you must.)

I’m surprised to find Xeni at Boing Boing — and many of the commenters there — finds this “pure awesome”: perhaps they’re seeing some joke that I’m not getting. MTV seems to think there’s a kind of joke in how all the miracles enumerated in the song aren’t really miracles at all, and this this is some sort of spin on Alanis Morissette’s not-ironic-at-all song about irony. Current calls Insane Clown Posse and this song “Walden-esque” for their failure to “accept the empirical evidence of so-called experts.” I guess that’s another joke.

I can’t see the humor in this, however. It’s not satire on idiocy: it’s just idiocy. And ICP is not an unknown entity: they’re hugely popular, and their fans are terrifying. I found this video especially disturbing because it coincides with an article I read this week at AlterNet entitled “Study Suggests More People Willing to Believe in ESP When Told It’s Been Scientifically Disproven.” And here’s ICP preaching willful ignorance and science as a lie.

American mass entertainment has rarely been kind to science, scientists, or the notions of rationality and intellectualism. But this seems like a step beyond what we’ve seen before. Am I wrong? Is Insane Clown Posse for real with their “Miracles” video? Or is it all a big joke that I’m simply not grasping?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)



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  • I’ve viewed the video once. I don’t particularly want to see it repeatedly because it’s not my kind of music, but on one viewing the overall message I picked up was: “Don’t go fussing about magic and supernatural things, because the miracles are in the everyday things all around you. Life, nature, love, music, children.” Except for the “f****-ing” and “mother-f*****s” stuff, which is irritating and superfluous, I didn’t find much to get upset about. I thought they might be expressing a disinterest in the scientific side of things, but it seemed a pretty small aspect of the whole video.

    In short, it’s not particularly deep or original, but I’m not particularly upset by this. I thought you’d be way more upset by the John Lewis ad that’s waking waves in Britain right now.

  • AJP

    How depressingly predictable. Two idiots putting out an incredibly superficial rant and thinking they’ve said something deep and meaningful. With bonus anti-science idiocy thrown in.

  • bitchen frizzy

    “We don’t need no education” has always been a staple theme of rock. These guys just aren’t very clever or entertaining about it.

    Or we’re just getting old.

    “…we learned more from a two-minute record, then did we ever learn in school…”

    “School’s out forever!”

    and many more.

  • Hank Graham

    Well, I fall down on the video being obvious and boring.

    As to the anti-scientific part, I didn’t think that was anything new, either. I don’t think ICP could come up with something new if they were on fire. Even their rap is boring and obvious, a copy of the style they’ve heard, with nothing new to add.

    They are a bit of a throwback, though.

    Take a look at the modern Creationists, for example. They’ve learned not to dismiss “Science” (as if there even were a “Science” with a capital “S”), but to claim (falsely) that no, their Bible-inspired rejection of evolutionary theory is actually supported by it. Course, you gotta turn yourself sideways and squint to make the evidence come out like they want it to, but that don’t stop them.

    So the modern take is to try to co-opt “Science,” but ICP harken back to William Jennings Bryan and the 1920’s, which was the last time anti-scientific sentiment was so directly expressed in this country.

  • Muzz

    This thing went around as a mockery meme really. Mostly people passed it on in sheer disbelief at the combo of cheese and down-home anti-intellectualism on display. Most of the big media writing about it are merely playing along with some faintly Swiftian absurdity.

    Yes it’s more than likely geniune and that’s the stunning part. Whether or not that makes you laugh is another matter. Me, I find old white, theatrical rock/rap guys in one of the cheesiest videos ever perversely amusing. But for some swearing, this could be one of those christian knock-off acts leveraging their way into ICP’s niche. But it’s not. Getting into specifics on the subject matter is a whole ‘nother book. It’s just such a perfect storm of wrong I had to play my small part in sharing it around.

  • Pollas

    All I know is that ICP freak me out. Clowns are freaky enough on their own, but a duo in clown make-up calling themselves an insane posse…

  • Amy

    Maryann, I was wondering the exact same thing last week when my two favorite podcasts talked about this video. Emily on Slate’s Political Gabfest said we had to watch it because it was awesome and hilarious, and I’m sure she thought it was meant as satire. Then the Skeptics Guide to the Universe people talked about how revolting it is for its anti-science message. To me, it’s so over the top I was sure it was satire, (fucking magnets!) but when I read more about ICP I decided they probably meant it seriously, which is depressing and even upsetting if this is a popular video. Didn’t they “come out” as Christians a few years ago saying that they took on the look and sound of hiphop to get the attention of their fellow young people so they could (essentially) preach to them about the goodness of God? It’s just a really weird phenom, and I have to wonder now about the few acquaintances I know who love ICP (I don’t know them well enough to know their positions on science or religion…) But seriously, thanks for bringing this up.

  • Andrew

    The joke is that they’re ignorant dipshits and, since they’re proud of their ignorance, we get to laugh at them.

    ICP are fucking morons and were arrogant enough to put up, in glorious YouTube detail, the fact that magnets confuse them. That is awesome.

  • ICP harken back to William Jennings Bryan and the 1920’s, which was the last time anti-scientific sentiment was so directly expressed in this country.

    No, not the last time. You’re forgetting someone.

    http://rawstory.com/rs/2010/0410/palin-this-snake-oil-science-stuff/

  • e

    I think many of you are over-thinking this. Andrew put it simply, the video is so ridiculous you just have to laugh at it. “F**king magnets… how do they work?” is the best catch phrase so far of 2010.

  • bitchen frizzy

    What e said.

    Rockers being proud of their ignorance – at least for show – is nothing new, and has little to do with Creationism or any other ism, besides hedonism.

  • Arco

    Wow I went throught basically the same progression as you, Maryann.. At first I was just bored. ‘Ooh, magic and miracles are all around you!’ Boring. Done a million times, but not offensive if taken in the ‘appreciate the beauty of the everyday world’.

    But then I start to notice their vehemence. That it’s all MAGIC and MIRACLES! Which always makes me laugh because if it’s all everyday stuff all around us, it’s by definition not a miracle. A miracle is something supposedly impossible that happens anyway and it is then extremely rare by default.

    If it’s everywhere, all the time, it’s not a miracle. It’s normal.

    (Even side-stepping the notion that if something happens, it’s also not a miracle because the fact that it happened proves it’s possible.)

    But then…”And I don’t wanna talk to a scientist
    Y’all motherfuckers lying, and getting me pissed ”

    YEAH that offends me! WTF?? Angry at scientists for explaining the beauty and complexity of the universe?? And how are they lying? And if ICP can prove they’re lying, I guess they must be scientists themselves.

    And if they can’t…well then the ‘you’re lying’ line is just unsubstantianted nonsense. Like a child. ‘Cuz I say so!! Wahh! I don’t wanna know how magnets work!! It’s magic I tellsya! Wahhhh”

    Ugh.

  • Kenny

    Those fucking magnets! At least they crashed into the sun at the end :D Fucking tools.

  • Hdj

    I’ve known some Juggalos and Jugglettes. They are big enough morons to think these things are miracles.

    Also this is not rock this is white trash rap

  • Knightgee

    It’s funny because they’re idiots. There’s no deeper meaning to why people find it funny. The humor is literally “look at how ridiculous these two people are in their ignorance”. The sad part is that we can’t sit back and comfort ourselves with the knowledge that they are alone in this ignorance, because they aren’t.

  • MaryAnn

    ICP harken back to William Jennings Bryan and the 1920’s, which was the last time anti-scientific sentiment was so directly expressed in this country.

    No, not the last time. You’re forgetting someone.

    Well, I think the point is that the last few years on the whole — encompassing Palin’s idiocy — has no comparison except if we go back to the 1920s. And that may be true.

    There’s a lot of very scary stuff happening right now. I keep thinking things can’t get worse, and then they do…

  • I’ll be honest – I laughed at this video, laughed hard, and watched it about five times, mostly for the “magnets” line and the “magic everywhere in this bitch” line, both of which are so preposterously hypocritical that they bordered on transcendence. You’re right in that ICP’s song reflects the worldview of a certain chunk of the population, but the only people taking this video/song seriously are ICP and their already-marginalized fanbase.

  • Amy

    If you immediately got it that people are laughing AT their idiocy, instead of WITH some kind of parody, good for you. I do think there are a lot of folks out there who are treating it as parody (thus crediting ICP with being clever commentary on society instead of extreme practitioners of anti-science). I don’t blame them because I live in a world where most people accept that science is a good thing. I think I resisted this understanding (that they are not satirizing ignorance) because it’s so disturbing. I think I can understand racism and sexism far more easily than this anti-science crap. Also, I know people who (at least years ago) claimed to really like ICP. If they still do, I have to really reconsider what I think of these people, seriously!

    I still can’t get my head around the notion that people would sincerely admit to not knowing how “fukken” RAINBOWS work–that “miracle” was explain scientifically about a thousand years ago, and my kids understood it by 2nd grade. I keep thinking “Please God LET this be satire.” Heh, mentioning God here is ironic, but what the hell.

  • The only thing I find pathetic about this is that anyone gives a shit. Not only doesn’t this video interest me, I can’t figure out why anyone would get worked up about it either way.

    For me, I watched the whole thing, and now I wish I’d just watched Dancing 2008 again instead of wasting my time with these assholes.

  • Oh for Pete’s sake. This is a perfect example of why I’ve drifted away from this site.

    Of course people are laughing AT this video! It’s absolutely ridiculous, and to start moaning about how it’s going to lead us all down the dark path towards ignorance and superstition is to show you’ve lost all perspective, and quite probably your sense of humour. Frankly this video is a compelling argument for why you should try to understand science if you don’t want to look like a complete tool. The only people who watched this video and thought “Hey, yeah! Fuck scientists!” are the ones who didn’t have a lot going on upstairs already anyway, i.e. Juggalos. Everyone else laughed long and hard.

  • MaryAnn

    It’s absolutely ridiculous, and to start moaning about how it’s going to lead us all down the dark path towards ignorance and superstition is to show you’ve lost all perspective, and quite probably your sense of humour.

    I don’t think I’ve lost perspective OR my sense of humor. But surely there must be a point beyond which we have to stop laughing at the idiots and start being worried about how damn many of them there are.

  • Yeah, because worrying about it seems to accomplish… what exactly? You can see the world going to hell when you look around, if you like. But you can also see it blooming slowly and inexorably into something wonderful. It’s just a matter of time before the dickheads die off, so to speak. We’re ending racism, idiocy, and violence just by being patient, and by trying a little harder to be nicer to each other. And if you can’t watch a video like Dancin’ Matt (above) or those marvelous “The World is Just Awesome” vids from Discovery, without hope flooding into your soul, then yeah… maybe you’ve lost perspective.

    But take heart! It’s easy to get back to the good place.

    Just dance!

  • OK, I might as well come out of the closet as a Juggalo. As someone who puts all his faith in science, I didn’t really ponder the idea that this was pandering to creationists/climate change denialists/etc, though maybe that’s because such fervent denial is less prevalent here than in the US. ICP are theists, though have never mentioned Jesus so I assume they’re not Christian.

    ICP have always rapped in a fratboy/juvenile manner, and there are HEAPS of inconsistencies in any particular messages they put out. (There’s a whole lotta murdering going on, but only of paedophiles/wife beaters/racists which is OK, apparently…).

    The only reason why I can stand this type of lyrical content is that it’s so wildly over the top that it usually comes back around from offensive to funny. Hence, “f*cking magnets, how do they work?”

    Sorry for the long post, but they have addressed the subject of ignorance before:

    From ‘Terrible’>>>

    The whole world was crying when Kurt’s gun went KABANG!
    When Eazy-E died though, it wasn’t no thang
    Rapper dies of A.I.D.S. but you hardly mention
    Rocker blows his face off and becomes a legend
    Heroin and a shotgun, a hero is made
    Maybe I should do that sh*t so J can get paid

    The country we live in was built by slaves
    Beat down and murdered and stuffed in their graves
    You put a slave owner on the one dollar bill
    And you wanna know why I KILLLL PEOPLE?

    Bombs are blowing up, cops are corrupt
    And all you care about is who the president f*cked?
    You don’t know terrible…you will
    as soon as our wagons come over the hill!

  • DoctorDon

    Just for the record, I know exactly how magnets work, and so would they, if they’d taken a physics class.

    So they put together (in a computer, based on science) an aminated movie about how thinking about science is a waste of time (ending with an *observatory* flying into *space*), and we should all just stand in amazement rather than actually figure things out??? They marvel at kids looking like parents WHILE THEY SHOW DNA IN THE BACKGROUND??? Give me a frikkin’ break. Without science, we wouldn’t know about those stars and galaxies they want us to marvel at and not think about.

    Now, that said, I teach a course on how people construct their worldviews, and the line between magic, science, and religion is actually very blurry and complicated, when you try to analyze it at the global level throughout history. And when you delve down into the fundamental laws of physics, the endless stream of “why” questions does seem to hit a brick wall of “just because” (the electron itself has got to be the biggest mystery in the universe that we all take for granted). It annoys me to no end when people say science takes the mystery out of the universe. No it doesn’t, it just moves it further down. Learning to play an instrument doesn’t keep you from appreciating the beauty of music.

    These guys are a real group? Like, with albums?

    DoctorDon
    Astrophysics Professor
    Not lying to piss anyone off

  • I do love how all four elements are present in their song. You know… water, air, fire and.. dirt.

  • CB

    Okay, lemme explain ICP to you folks.

    Insane Clowne Posse is not for real. This music video is absolutely a joke. A very deliberate, very heavy-handed joke.

    The kind that you play completely straight.

    Cus you know that makes it all ironic and stuff.

    That’s the joke — they act like total idiots but they really aren’t. Hilarious, eh?

    You don’t think so? Well, lots of their fans do, and they think it’s genius to boot.

    Cus you know, if you can’t actually be clever, then being sarcastically dumb is the next best thing.

    So there you go. ICP in a nutshell.

    Oh last thing, be very wary of the fans who don’t even go that deep and actually appreciate ICP un-ironically.

  • Amy

    Well that’s what so weird about the whole thing. Some portion of their fans think they are parodizing and think it’s hilarious (that made the most sense to me) and some portion think they are absolutely serious–and their fans fall into both camps. Both groups think they are absolutely right and think the others are crazy for not recognizing it. But all the juggalos I’ve read seem to fall in the un-ironic camp, which suggests to me ICP aren’t very successful in their parody. (You’d never wonder if Sara Silverman was seriously as ignorant and politically incorrect as she is.) But if it sells albums, who cares whether people take them in earnest or not? And it’s this quality of being easily read both ways that makes them the subject of discussion I guess.

    CB: were they being satirical when they said they are hoping to bring people to God? Is that also part of the joke, because it would fit. Except everyone seems to claim it’s not a joke.

  • P.

    Two thoughts.

    One: If the song is a parody of the sentimentality of finding beauty in the everyday, then the line “fukken magnets, how do they work?” is pure genius.

    Let’s assume ICP is a big joke, even though most of their fans take them seriously. How many people have to think you’re not being satirical for your satire to be considered a failure?

    I’ve read serious, convincing critical arguments that Robert Zemeckis, the director of “Forrest Gump,” has nothing but CONTEMPT for the character of Forrest Gump. Zemeckis thinks that being a well-meaning doofus, wandering aimlessly, is what’s ruining America, and that “Forrest Gump” was a satire of that outlook. Yet no one “got” it, Gump is hailed as a hero, the movie won a pile of Oscars, and the US subsequently elected real-life Gump George W. Bush president. Has that satire failed? I’m not being rhetorical.

    Two: Of all the different anti-authoritarian / “rebel” poses, only being “anti-science” is called “anti-intellectualism.”

    If you doubt what’s said by the state, news media, clergy, historians, teachers, etc., you’re hailed as a “skeptic.” But when you apply the same approach to science, you’re called “dumbass.” I’m not saying you’re not a dumbass, I’m just saying this is interesting.

    The reason we apply this double standard is because, in science, any experiment that can be repeated can be called “fact.” As if we can all walk down to the neighborhood supercollider and repeat any billion-dollar experiment we want. Really, we’re hoping that whoever told us that the experiment was repeated and confirmed is being honest, and mostly we decide who’s being honest and who’s not based on how we already see the world.

    The progressive rationalist believes everything will get better if we can all just be rational. The post-modernist will smirk and stifle a laugh and pat the modernist on the head.

  • If you doubt what’s said by the state, news media, clergy, historians, teachers, etc., you’re hailed as a “skeptic.”

    Not always. The teabaggers doubt statements from the administration and the mainstream media, and insist that Obama’s a socialist Nazi non-citizen. The Texas Board of Education doubts professional historians: they insist that America was founded as a Christian nation and that the Founders never intended the separation of church and state. And they also erased Thomas Jefferson from a list of influential Enlightenment thinkers.

    I’d call them dumbasses too.

    The reason we apply this double standard is because, in science, any experiment that can be repeated can be called “fact.” As if we can all walk down to the neighborhood supercollider and repeat any billion-dollar experiment we want. Really, we’re hoping that whoever told us that the experiment was repeated and confirmed is being honest, and mostly we decide who’s being honest and who’s not based on how we already see the world.

    Well, scientific principles are also confirmed by the fact that when we assume they’re true and use them to design things, those things work. Planes fly. Cars go. Medicine makes sick people better. Your computer is running fine. Science works.

    The progressive rationalist believes everything will get better if we can all just be rational. The post-modernist will smirk and stifle a laugh and pat the modernist on the head.

    Hoo boy, big topic. Let’s see if anyone dives in. :-)

  • JoshB

    Two: Of all the different anti-authoritarian / “rebel” poses, only being “anti-science” is called “anti-intellectualism.”

    If you doubt what’s said by the state, news media, clergy, historians, teachers, etc., you’re hailed as a “skeptic.” But when you apply the same approach to science, you’re called “dumbass.” I’m not saying you’re not a dumbass, I’m just saying this is interesting.

    Bzzzt. Wrong.

    Doubting scientists is an essential part of science. That’s why there’s a peer review process, why experiments need to be duplicated in the first place.

    If you can point out why current science is wrong, then you’re a good scientist.

    If you doubt science but can’t give a coherent reason why, other than to be an anti-authoritarian rebel, then you’re a dumbass.

    For that matter, those same rules apply to doubting “the state, news media, clergy, historians, teachers, etc.”

    The progressive rationalist believes everything will get better if we can all just be rational. The post-modernist will smirk and stifle a laugh and pat the modernist on the head.

    And then the progressive rationalist will disregard the post-modernist’s thoughts as not being worth the calories it took to produce them.

    “Build me a better light bulb,” says the progressive rationalist, “and then maybe I’ll pay attention to you again.”

  • Hdj

    Any song ICP makes can be considered a joke, all of there songs. However they do consider there songs works of art. They wrote this song in the same fashion Kid Rock writes his songs. They know the people that like them and formulate the lyrics to connect. Maybe they’ll tell the critics they were just fucking around but they’ll tell the fans they were straight up serious fo reel. ; )

  • Knightgee

    I can appreciate that they make some occasionally well-put commentary in their songs (like the lyrics posted above), but on the whole I can’t take them or their hardcore fans seriously.

  • Patrick

    Has anyone seen the SNL parody of this?

    http://www.hulu.com/watch/143249/saturday-night-live-outrageous-clown-squad-kickspit-dirt-festival

    Just trying to lighten the mood a tad.

  • P.

    “Build me a better light bulb and then maybe I’ll pay attention to you again.”

    I know you! You were the service-guy at my Toyota dealership who said I wasn’t allowed to criticize my faulty-braking Prius until I built a better one. You’ve had a rough couple of weeks.

    ;)

  • Mkwomble

    It’s certainly not my favourite ICP song, but I think the clue really is in the first spoken words of this song.

    I guess it’s always hard to pass judgement on something like this, but people claiming they are of a decent intelligence and putting themselves on the pedestal of a scientist needs to actually look at the evidence.

    Research and look at the other work they have produced that follows a more serious theme, songs like “nothings left”, “behind the paint” and more you will see that they create something quite unique.

    Juvenilia is rife I will admit but there is something greater lurking behind two guys in face paint, it’s un educated to assume it’s trash unless you research properly their back catalogue, message and achievements with the musical talent they have been given.

    Tarnishing all their fans with the same brush is also very stupid, and shows the ignorance by a lot of negative posters on the Internet right now.

    I am a bachelor of science with a wife and two kids who is late 20’s. I am a scientist but I can see the actual message they are portraying here.

    It does beg the question who is getting the last laugh?

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