J. J. Murphy1
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  • 1 University of Wisconsin-Madison
Harmony Korine‘s Gummo
The Compliment of Getting Stuck with a Fork
in Film Studies
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Dismissed by most critics, including even those sympathetic to alternative cinema, Harmony Korine‘s Gummo (1997) presents a tabloid look at the dark underside of adolescence. It aims to provoke its audience by pushing the boundaries of acceptable good taste. In Gummo, Korine employs a more experimental collage technique in which scenes are linked, not by the cause and effect of conventional plot, but by the elusive logic of free association. This essay contextualizes Korines work within skateboard culture and the recent Modern Gothic trend toward creepy, angst ridden, and death-obsessed work by younger contemporary American artists. It argues that Gummo‘s real achievement rests on its unusual narrative syntax – the way Korine is able to weave together the films disparate scenes and events to create a viscerally assaulting, Modern Gothic portrait of the notion of “difference” in its various manifestations.

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