Ray Pride talks with Gummo's Brat Celebre, Harmony Korine
Korine expresses disappointment that more journalists had not been rude to him if they don't like his work.
Harmony Korine: I would like that instead of these polite questions like, 'Do you feel like you're exploiting people?' Exploiting people, I don't know what they mean.
I wondered how he reacted to critics who will drag out the dread label, "self - indulgent" to describe Gummo.
Harmony Korine: How can an artist be expected not to be self - indulgent? That's the whole thing that's wrong with filmmaking today. Ninety nine percent of the films you see do not qualify as works of art. To me, art is one man's voice, one idea, one point - of - view, coming from one person. Self - indulgent to me means it's one man's obsession. That's what great artists bring to the table. When fucking critics or whatever say, 'he's self - indulgent,' I don't know what that means. The reason I stopped watching films is because so many people lack any kind of self - indulgence. But I don't believe in being boring.
So 'boring' is a scarier word?
Harmony Korine: Oh much more. Entertaining, to me, is what it's all about. We can talk about aesthetics and influence but in the end when I go to see anything all I want is to be entertained in a different way. It could be informative or shocking but I want to be entertained. I don't want to be bored by the bland and generic. Film is like a dead art because of people not taking chances.
What kind of film is Gummo?
Harmony Korine: Oh, it's completely Southern, it's totally, one - hundred percent Southern. I'm a Southern boy so how would it not be? I'd say Gummo is an American film; it's Southern, but it's strange. But it fucks with it, it's a genre - fuck. I love the South, love it, love it. I didn't leave until I was 18. I had to move out to understand it. I couldn't have made that film if I hadn't left Tennessee for those four or five years.
Gummo is overtly an experimental narrative, and under the Time Warner name as the Fine Line logo unfurls, a child chants the film's first words, "Peanut butter, peanut butter, motherfucker."
Harmony Korine: I love it, I love it. To me that's the most exciting thing. That to me is the future. The most subversive thing you can do with this kind of work, the most radical kind of work, is to place it in the most commercial venue. I have a novel coming out in April called "A Crackup At The Race Riots," from Doubleday, and that's Michael Crichton's label. It's the most fucked - up book, but to me that's exciting. When Godard did Breathless, the reason it became influential and changed the cinematic vernacular is that it came out in a commercial context. I only think things change when they're put out to the masses, regardless if somebody dislikes them. The Velvet Underground put out their first album, and almost nobody bought it, but everyone who did started a band that sounded just like them. For me to put it out to as many people as I can get it to is much more subversive than if you're giving it to the same three theatres with the same crowd that always goes to see this kind of film. [Toronto International Film Festival Sundance Channel Webcast 1997]