Harmony Korine | 2012
I realize I’m arriving at this party particularly late, but it still seems prudent to make a brief appearance. You’ll have to excuse me for not delving into the depths of the ‘party’ metaphor here; trust me, it required some restraint.
I’d simply like to point out that the extent of the outrage and befuddlement over this film is, itself, rather befuddling. I’ll largely leave aside the “you debased My Sweet Disney™ Princess” narrative, because it’s boring, stupid, and ignorant (“You mean young actresses want to seem grown up? This has never happened before!“). The far stranger phenomenon is in the outrage from those who ought to know better. Yes, the film is to a great extent a withering mockery of the trashy, solipsistic decadence in which most of the Western world seems so desperate to wallow. No, the film does not have to avoid making you uncomfortable along the way (pop culture has no compunctions about making me uncomfortable, after all). No, not every film has to evince the narrative sophistication of a children’s picture book (the vast majority of modern filmmaking notwithstanding). No, not every film has to be read as a neat, unconflicted little allegory about The American Experiment (just ask anyone from Europe).
Maybe a film can just have a point to make, and can try to make that point in an artfully subject-appropriate formal style. I thought we’d all learned these things pretty indelibly by the early 1960’s, but I’d forgotten that our cultural celebration of fetid garbage has liquified our brains.