Friday, May 21, 2010

Refuse Coitus (Trash Humpers 2010 Review)

                            As a child I grew up under what some would consider either under less than healthy social conditions, atypical of americatown circa 1980-1993. And it wasn't long until a matter of short meetings with kids raised with even less supervision than I began coming out of the local woodwork, and befriending me or my siblings. And witnessing a world without boundaries was opened to me quite early as a result. From violent, half-handicapped parents, to scuffles between grandfather and grandson in a makeshift boxing ring in the backyard, one would hardly imagine that these were the events occurring in the vicinity of the Resort Capital Of The World. But America has become a fascinating test for the senses in its brief life. And in the years since, it has become increasingly tougher to render me vulnerable to madness.

                         In fact, it was madness that often served as savior for the few of us not bought into the hip-hop loving, heavy metalling, would-be-preppy infrastructure that the local shopping malls were intending to impose upon us. A friend of mine christened me toward this new mind set upon walking home from his house one day when a little wannabe street tough started up on another of his attempts to prove his Alpha-Male status. After a few curse words, and pushes, my friend calmly lifted the boy from the top of his head(one-handed), lifted the boy to eye-level. And the only words that came from my friend's mouth boomed out ever so soothingly, "stop it".

                          Needless to say, the boy, once put back on his feet, ran back home as his larger appeared from their garage to berate him. Soon after, the realization that burned atop the brain came clear, that it was all merely about perspective. Making friends with the homeless, wild pranks & often bizarre sayings to strangers on buses to save seats was the order of the day. Once we realized our ability to do anything, it became a sort of game in which one of us would conjure up a depraved act to merely hint at toward those who would wish to torment the "weird kids". And thus in turn would inspire the game to escalate, as we compiled bizarre idea after bizarre idea, no doubt inspire by our neighbors, who's antics were closer to what the infamous Tourette's Guy only dreamed of achieving. We lived the life of the man-made freakshow at home, while Jim Rose was making legend of himself in concert venues around the world. Life was merely a stage, and the audience was often there to be confronted. So in the years later, we saw was as if someone had read into our own fears of a civilized wasteland. A nightmare vision that in many ways still troubles even me.

Which is probably why Harmony Korine's Trash Humpers is in many ways a nostalgic manifestation of our dreams of those lofty days, and also a victim of its own novelty. Done on virtually no budget to speak of, and on purely analog VHS, the camcorded exploits of a freakish gang of elderly-looking, anarchy-spewing cretins works only for a few minutes, but soon wears thin as the "found-in-the-dumpster" fascination wears off. With nothing so much as narrative, or cohesion, the experience is more akin to videos I used to make as a kid. While entertaining in a mildly cool sense (the ghostly blur that comes from multi-generational use tapes brings back eerie memories of years of phantom rentals in the dark), it never seems to go as far as the premise implies.(which for some may come as a relief- Ooh...That scares even me.)

Filmed in and around Nashville, Tennessee, these random adventures range from the modestly disturbed, to out and out numbness, which may or may not jibe all-too-perfectly with the mass' cravings for new lows of domestic tomfoolery on YouTube. If anything, the film is the next evolution of the Jackass phenom, without the daredevil douchiness of it all. Aiming to be the real-deal is the name of the game, and at times it comes pretty close. But in all, Trash Humpers is a mixed jumble of anarchic mayhem & hypnotic lo-fi creep that may only satisfy the willing. Watch if you dare, just don't expect too much.

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