Posts Tagged ‘trash humpers’

Monday, May 10th, 2010

On the one hand, Trash Humpers by Harmony Korine is a mildly hip take on Jackass.

Korine and his co-conspirators dress up as crystal meth tweekers and generally cause trouble throughout Nashville, Tennessee while being filmed through the retro lens of the VHS camcorder.


On the other hand, the film transcends hipster posing through Korine’s sincerity as an artist and the sense that he is invested in giving the film a certain depth.

(“Make it, make it, don’t fake it!” Korine’s own character implores throughout the film.)

So, with that in mind, what is going on here?

As the film opens, the predictably weird and stylish antics described above are in full effect.

One views the protagonists smashing televisions in abandoned houses, humping plastic trash cans, taking shits in front of automated garage doors, giving mock blow jobs to the branch of a tree, etc.

It’s all funny enough and the super softness of the VHS imagery combined with the perpetually humid, “almost-about-to-rain” milieu in which these actions were documented makes the whole thing feel less like the pounding sharpness of Jackass and more like a Sunday afternoon nap.

But, what else?

Where is all this going going other than towards a certain vague Vice magazine style “artsy-ness”?

Well, to begin, a symbolic motif develops:

One views a succession of ratty, plastic baby-dolls with which the humpers oscillate in response from either maternal love to abject destruction.

The baby-doll calls to mind both the organic fragility of a “real” baby as well as the durable artificiality of plastic in a single image.

(Or, alternatively, the hope for a new life and the dismissal of old garbage.)

Is this baby, then, one the world loves or one the world destroys?

And as Trash Humpers unfolds:

Sometimes plastic baby-dolls are loved.

Sometimes plastic baby-dolls are destroyed.

And one can’t accurately anticipate when these sea changes will occur.

The resulting blur between these two poles then becomes something in-between creation and destruction:

Call it fornication.


(From chaos, to order and back again until The End [“the money shot”].)

(In an ending rivaling 2001, the sight of a humper lovingly coddling a real baby sparks a horrifying question – the baby is coddled by the humper now, but [when] will the sea change?)

This thematic is expanded through the reading of another character’s poem in which the only thing left to do with all the garbage of technological progress choking one’s world is neither creation nor destruction, but endless fornication (this character is later murdered by the humpers).

Again and again, the humpers manipulate the abject, obsolete “trash” mounting in the wake of progress, sometimes destroying it, sometimes preserving it, mostly doing both at once.

Pulling out (or in) a couple of degrees, then, Korine’s approach to his own medium of obsolete analog VHS adds a further layer to one’s understanding.

VHS (trash) is – here – neither destroyed nor created, but (perhaps one could say) loved, humped – manipulated in such a way (not too fast, not too slow, just right) as to elicit its own secret virus out into the air (as if to infect [and mutate]).