A No-Holds-Barred Look at Insane Clown Posse's "Chris Benoit"
It's been a pretty good week for both the Insane Clown Posse and Juggalos across the country. Aside from an argument that led to a Texas ninja getting stabbed, this year's Gathering of the Juggalos appears to have gone off without a hitch, while ICP made national headlines for making it known they plan to eventually lose a lawsuit against the FBI.
Mostly lost in all of this is the fact that Detriot's favorite facepainted duo just released a new album. This makes sense, because ICP stopped making music for the rest of us years ago.
Still, I came across the video for one of their new tracks and it killed a lot of the goodwill the Posse had built up with me over the last few years. For wrestling fans, there are two words that give us pause, and those two words just happen to be the title of the song in question: "Chris Benoit."
For those of you who may not remember, here's the Reader's Digest version of the Chris Benoit story:
Chris Benoit was a short but intense Canadian, like Wolverine without the claws. While he was alive he was arguably the best wrestler on the planet, which is not to be confused with being the best sports entertainer on the planet. In 2007, he murdered his wife and seven-year-old son then killed himself. Whether he did this because he was regular crazy, steroid crazy or concussion crazy is a mystery.
A lot of wrestling fans, myself included, were both shocked and depressed when this happened because Benoit was "our guy." Even though he wasn't the biggest or most charismatic, he still made it to the top of the wrestling world, headlining Wrestlemania and winning a world title. It wasn't an Angus-like "outcast makes good" story, it was a Rocky-esque "working man makes good" story, except that Rocky never went home and caved in Adrian's face.
Now here's the thing: I'm about as pro-free speech as one can get. I'm one of those people that believe nothing is off limits and you can joke about anything as long as you're willing to deal with the consequences of your actions.
If ICP want to write a song questioning why God doesn't seem interested in the world he created or one that glorifies a psychopathic Canadian then that's their right.
Now let me explain why "Chris Benoit" is fucked up.
Photos this page by Marc Brubaker
Whether it's Alice Cooper staging mock executions onstage, Marilyn Manson tearing up Bibles, or GWAR simply existing, shock-rock is nothing new. One imagines that as long as music exists there will be someone looking to push the envelope in hopes of fame and fortune, whether that means outlandish costumes or writing songs that make monsters in to heroes.
But even at the height of their fame, ICP have never really come off as particularly shocking or scary, unless you have an irrational fear of clowns. Now, thanks to "Miracles," most people see them as a joke. The violence in their music has always been of the cartoon sort, more Bugs Bunny than John Wayne Gacy. They're basically harmless as long as you don't catch them at a Waffle House.
"Chris Benoit" is fucked up not because it's shocking, but because it's lazy.
ICP, as stated previously, don't make music for the masses; they make music for the legion of dedicated fans they already have. Given how important wrestling is to the overall juggalo experience, it's not a great leap to suggest that if you listen to ICP you know who Benoit was and what he did. These are not people who are going to be shocked by the reference.
It's not about freaking people out, it's about writing something that juggalos will think is wicked and will want to sing loudly while being pelted by Faygo. Why create a new character or push yourself to think of something clever when you can go with the path of least resistance?
They're using the murder of a mother and her seven-year-old to look cool to people who already adore them.
It's a shame, because all things considered the song isn't bad and the video is shockingly good. Truth is, most of the time I want to root for ICP because I believe that in general they're good people. Very few bands would sue the FBI just to take back the already tarnished name of their fans.
But for now I'm done with the dark carnival. Sorry guys, but for what it's worth, I wish you the best in your future endeavors.