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[Fantastic Fest ’21] ‘The United States of Insanity’ review: Why ICP’s stand against the government is important

If only it had a better soundtrack.

The United States of Insanity looks at the legal troubles of music’s most notorious bands. In 2011, the FBI listed Juggalos as a loosely organized gang. With the help of the ACLU, ICP have unsuccessfully tried to fight the designation. As the film often states, most people do not know what a Juggalo is. It is one of those cases where “I know one when I see one”. Aside from referring to them as a die hard ICP fan, there is no way a non-Juggalo could accurately describe one. Wisely, The United States Of Insanity tries to define the group early on.

There are some characteristics that tie Juggalos together: broken families, class, drugs, and abuse are some shared traits. (It should be noted they come from all walks of life, though.) However, The United States of Insanity is not interested in exploiting people. A word that is heard early and becomes a running theme is “family”. No matter how a Juggalo defines themselves, the whole is a tight knit bond that keeps them all together. 

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This makes The United States of Insanity easier for people who have a predefined idea of what Juggalos are. (I fall into this group. I am not a fan of the Insane Clown Posse and have always found their fans to be ridiculous.) Providing a deeper understanding of the fanbase makes the overall documentary more interesting. It also prevents people from immediately tuning our the film’s message.

[Fantastic Fest '21] 'The United States of Insanity' review: Why ICP's stand against the government is important

It can not be overstated how important this is. No matter what a person’s opinion is of ICP or Juggalo culture, the fact the FBI branded them as a gang is frightening. As someone in The United States of Insanity correctly states, if music fans can be labeled as criminals, then who is next? This is fear that comes across often in regards to the government getting involved in people’s personal lives. In this case, it is understandable.

The United States of Insanity has a tendency to cross the line between objective filmmaker and fan, but it gets its point across well. Using sports fans as one example, the film shows that groups of people identifying together with a shared love not a criminal act. On the contrary, it is a normal part of societies around the world. When a woman talks about how she was fired from her long time job at a nursing home because of the music she likes, things become very scary.

Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope are very open in the documentary and make a strong accounting of themselves. They both are very sincere in their love of their extended family and it is hard not to feel for them as they try to stand up against the United States government. That the two are also willing to laugh at themselves adds levity to a surprisingly deep documentary about the Insane Clown Posse.

Check out AIPT’s ongoing Fantastic Fest coverage.

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