IN HARMONY WITH KORINE
What is it about Harmony Korine? He’s not poster boy handsome and his success has been more along the lines of indie cred. But fuck those people who’d rather be watching The Days Of Our Lives. Mention Korine’s name to any smart, in-the-know individual and watch him go misty. We got our own tastes here, like when you see the bizarro skateboarding Gummo kid in a rabbit costume, a manic crone looking for all the world in Julien-Donkey Boy, the elderly cretins with the need to rub up against garbage cans for the sheer hell of it in Trush Humpers; or James Franco and a group of teens falling with each other in hallucinogenic hysteria in Spring Breakers.
Yes, Harmony Korine doesn’t set the tabloids all right and wears his neuroses on his sleeve. But there’s something about him that’s extraordinary. And I know, because I’ve met him. It was a grim, grey night in London. While most of Britain was curled up in its pyjamas, a few selected run hurriedly to meet Harmony Korine at the BFI.
But in order to tell this story properly, I need to take you back to my teenage bedroom – where delinquency reigned supreme; to a time when Korine’s movies provided the sole inspiration to my adolescent laments. Aged 13 and riddled with teenage ire, it would only seem natural for me to find insurrection in the movie called Kids. Directed by Larry Clark but written by Harmony Korine, the movie follows a group of kids that have a trouble growing up; the kind of kids that don’t look at you in the eye when they speak to you.
And just look at it this way: there are many here among us for whom life is best represented by mellifluous bursts of unarguable anarchy. I do not subscribe to this perspective 100%, but I can understand it, have lived it.
But anyway, it’s tough having heroes. It’s the hardest thing in the world. Hell, it’s even harder than being a hero! You see, heroes are generally expected to produce something new and simply reconfirm their talent. Hero- worshippers on the other hand, must live with the continuous confirmed dread of hero-slippage.
So, when it was announced that Korine was coming to London, I knew I had to do everything in my power to see him. After inadvertently working the press circuit, rushing home to hear the apocalypse erupt, falling through the front door, slashing open the envelope, taking the shiny, pristine, glow with auras press-pass out and finally getting the train to London – I made it.
There are events you remember all your life, like your first real copulation (please, do not make me define real). And that night was the pursuit of that priceless moment.
I am escorted through a maze of corridors and into the auditorium.
My carefully crafted questions lie mutely in my pink fluorescent notebook as the minutes go by unchecked. It was only fitting that I chose to bring this notebook on acid. In his recent film, entitled Spring Breakers, Korine bathes the world in an exuberant, neon-lit, dubstep-infused palette, with a particular emphasis on pink. In the movie, when the girls wear pink ski masks they can shoot gangsters with impunity, as they are shielded by their own childlike ignorance. Because as Korine described, pink creates invincibility, the feeling associated with teenage debauchery.
And suddenly, the man himself. What ensued was a bit of a chaotic blur: one young woman wanted to show him her films, a man mumbled to oblivion and the reincarnated avatar of Lemmy Kilmister stood up and opened with “Harmony, I have jerked off to all of your movies…”
And I was on the verge of unconsciousness.
In a quick move, I saw him standing right in front of me. Usually, I’d go cower in a corner, but I found myself just standing there, staring at him, drinking in his every feature. It was the first time I’d ever found myself standing face-to-face with one of the fathers of counterculture. Unconsciously and to my surprise, I blurt out the words “You are one of my heroes”, and then proceeded to explain Nevermind Los Angeles.
And at that moment, in the speed of light, he grabbed my diary and started drawing. I couldn’t see what he was doing but he was smiling.
Encouraged I said, “It’s a struggle to interact socially with people. And I’ve felt this way ever since I was a kid.” He stopped and looked up. He leaned back, gave me my diary and said, “Forget about collaborating with people. Go to Los Angeles and interpret the stories through your own eyes. And always remember, it is better to create a beautiful failure, rather than a safe success.” My heart exploded into saturated, vibrant fireworks and I felt like cheering and crying and laughing.
As I was exiting the auditorium, I opened my diary and found this potato-head caricature of what resembled a face. I was flabbergasted. I had no idea what it was. I couldn’t understand. I didn’t want to understand. And suddenly, it all made sense: Sometimes you have to defy explanation, in order to protect the magic.