Bummer Crop

Korn's depressed rap-metal rocks freaks and saves geeks. But are they just yanking your leash?

Korn--who are also adults, by the way--present us with both a useless ideal and a false, cynical reality. They endlessly bewail the loss of an innocence they found worthless to begin with. No surprise, then, that Issues doubles as a road map of a pornographic imagination that's just the flip side of puritanism. Davis implicates sexuality as predatory even as he is compelled to indulge in it, stooping to conquer in the vituperative "Trash"--"These little girls, they make me feel so goddamn exhilarated" coupled with "Your feelings/I can't help but rape them." Poor guy makes an anti-body nookiephobe like John Lydon sound almost healthy.

Sure, it takes me back to the terror of after-school specialness--the need for infinite possibility straining against a terrifying lack of control, the real or imagined constant surveillance, the desires that seem both liberating and wrong. Dirty. The feeling of being a "Freak on a Leash." Korn resubmerge me in that terror. And I resent it.

Because you know what? I wouldn't go back to high school even if you promised me clear skin, a fake ID, and unchaperoned sleepovers with Christina Aguilera on alternate Fridays. And you know what else? I don't have to--another perk of ageist modern life. Maybe I've gotten wiser. More likely I've just accrued a wider range of useful psychological defenses. In any case, I know now that adolescence isn't hell. It just feels that way when adults blither about how lucky you are.

To the kids, I say, When that sickness hits your gut, you shouldn't believe famous, talented buddies old enough to know better (no matter how closely they identify with you, no matter how uncannily they mirror your confusion) when they tell you "It's Not Gonna Go Away." I know it feels that way sometimes. But it gets better. Honest. Hang in there.

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