HITTING THE NAIL
Responses to "Natural Born Thriller"
By Robert Hilburn for Los Angeles Times on October 2, 1994
Hilburn's interview with Trent Reznor bothered me enough to prevent a return to sleep at 3:30 in the morning. Both Reznor's attitudes and Hilburn's indulgence of them were troubling.
I found the image of a young boy singing, "I want to (expletive) you like an animal" particularly disturbing. (Before the publication of the article, a 19-year-old female acquaintance, a huge Nine Inch Nails fan, mentioned that a 14-year-old had sung those same words to her. Her attitude seemed to be "Those kr-aazy kids. . . ."). Hilburn lets that image pass without comment. I believe it begs a question: Where are we when a kid of that age identifies with that lyric?
I believe that achievement is driven by expectation and vision. Tom Lehrer once said, "Life is like a sewer. What you get out depends on what you put in." Lehrer was blessed with both a sense of humor and irony. Both appear to be woefully lacking in Reznor's case.
If the purpose of art is to have people view things differently, to what end does that work? The result does not appear in a vacuum. What new and hopeful perspective can the average adolescent gain when viewing through a lens of violence, perversion and death?
Should an emotionally mature person have the option to listen to music or read material that plumbs the depths of existence? I think absolutely yes. I think it could be beneficial.
Should an adolescent who has only recently gained secondary sex characteristics and whose psyche is often confused at best be wading in that? I think not. Parents must instill a positive vision in their children. Unfortunately, they also must actively guide, or even dictate at times, what is appropriate for their consumption.
I fear that we have already created a moral, cultural Blob. If you step in it, you not only can't scrape it off your shoe, it eats you and goes looking for more.
In recent stories, Robert Hilburn has blurred some facts concerning the relationship between Trent Reznor and the soundtrack to the movie "Natural Born Killers."
The truth is that Reznor did not oversee the selection of the individual songs and music for the film itself. The creative decisions were made by the producers, film editors and music editors under the supervision of director Oliver Stone, with Stone having final approval.
From this collection of songs, Reznor made his selections to be included in his self-produced soundtrack CD, which turned out to be a fine production, indeed.
It seems that this distinction was lost amid Hilburn's sweeping adulation of Reznor.
I enjoyed most of Robert Hilburn's cover story on Trent Reznor. Nine Inch Nails is a unique force in music, deserving all of its recent success.
However, Hilburn was way off the mark in attributing Reznor's female fanship to his sex appeal. Men and women are equally capable of feeling rage, lust and alienation. I listen to Trent Reznor for his brutally honest exploration of the depths of the human soul.
Thank you, Robert Hilburn, for showing everyone that Trent Reznor smiles and breathes like everyone else. He is human like you and me. His songs are from the hurt that lies within him, and if you think about it, the love that is within him also. For that, he is a beautiful person.
In the past, I have hurt just as badly as he has and have loved someone that I could never have. Trent is human just as I am. There is nothing wrong with his songs. They are based on his beliefs, his world. I can relate to his feelings, his hurt and his loneliness.
I would like to thank Robert Hilburn for introducing us to yet another new "genius," Trent Reznor. If he can produce the line "I want to (expletive) you like an animal" while still in his 20s, we can only imagine what his "artistry" and "vision" can produce in the years to come.
Transcribed by Keith Duemling