Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Beauty of Violence


Sufjan Stevens' "John Wayne Gacy Jr." is an incredibly emotional song about John Wayne Gacy, one of the most notorious serial killers ever. Gacy, who dressed as a clown, killed 33 boys and young men, hiding 27 of them underneath his house. Stevens takes this incredibly macabre subject and turns it into a song that evokes a great deal of "mixed" emotions from the listener. I feel like many people who listen to this song react strongly, because violence is such an extreme subject. We are used to hearing about violence in gangsta rap or hardcore metal, yet, when real-life violence is portrayed in a song as melodically beautiful as this one, the words are laced with a tranquil sadness.


  1. This was a very sad and somber song/video. The slow old footage just added a retro vibe but with an incredibly serious message and tone. Stevens gives us every imaginable aspect of Gacy. The fact that he did that makes it all the more scary/sad. The fact that we hear about how comical and hoe well he conversed as a child just makes the entire scenario an even crazier one.

  2. the contrast between the melody and the video highlights the violence that Gacy perpetrated as an adult. Like cmc9015 said its a very sad song because it reminds us that people who do unspeakable things were at one time innocent children themselves. Songs like this remind people about the capacity to be violent is in us all .

  3. Seems like a good memorial to the people who lost their lives. Often when a big story about a serial killer breaks people focus more on the killer and the drama surrounding his actions, real or imaginary, and neglect the victims.

  4. That is a really captivating song. It's weird how he takes writes for Gacy in the first person.


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