Took You To Make Me Realize

I sort of don't want to even blog about it because it is so close to my heart. I'm seriously invested in this desire and I feel a little vulnerable writing about it because I don't want people to ruin it for me. But I feel pretty confident in articulating these desires and don't think that I'm risking anything. This will still get me hot under the collar, regardless of whether anyone agrees with me or understands.

What I'm trying to say: I have a Perfect Dream Man and his name is Trent Reznor.

One of my favorite records, Free Kitten's Nice Ass, has a song ("Rock of Ages") that ridicules Trent Reznor, among others. The song attacks the mid-1990s fake self-hating "loser" rock star boy myth. Some of the lyrics are:
You think you're a loser, baby
But you drive all the girls crazy
You're not too screwed-up punk
You're a total Cali hunk
You say yr head's like a hole
But yr tune's have so much soul
Stop bringing back the bitch who screwed you
There's a million who would do you
And I totally agree with the sentiment here. Kim and Julia are talking about a kind of narcissism, swagger, cockiness and machismo that presents itself as self-hatred. Beck and Radiohead and Nirvana and stuff. Songs from the early 90s about "I am so bad I am so awful how creepy and misunderstood and unreachable I am". This is a way to brag without looking like yr bragging. Nine Inch Nails is totally part of that. I get that.

But Trent is different, and part of that difference is why he is my Perfect Dream Man.

This is different than what Kim and Julia are singing about. Beck and the other fake self-hating boys are fiishing for complements. They say "I'm a loser" then a chorus of girls across America says "No You're Not! We Love you for who you are!" Trent hates himself for what he has DONE not who he IS. NIN is music about what happens between people. Marilyn Manson works towards a mythology of the self (see: 'The Reflecting God'). Trent stays at home picking at old wounds. Rock Star Men look outwards for confirmation. Trent looks deep inside and fingers the parts that hurt.

Trent's whole shtick in NIN was the fusing of industrial music with dance music. He's often credited with working with Marilyn Manson, producing his earliest records and helping to mainstream Industrial music. Manson's primary influence in terms of instrumentation was Big Black. He only really used a drum machine because it was easier, y'know? He still had his horrible kiddie wonka factory Black Sabbath violent pervert thing going on. He used electro elements, yeah, but mostly his concerns were with subject matter.

NIN, however, was dance music from the get-go. Pretty Hate Machine is heavily influenced by Chicago industrial dance music. Trent totally loves Depeche Mode. Manson wore eyeliner because of the shock value, but Trent wore his with fishnets and leather and raver boots. He was able to make it seem like metal, just angry enough for the jocks to get into it. Just this side of acceptable. But still there was a definite effete vibe to Reznor's presentation. His anger isn't violent, the way Billy Corgan's or Marilyn Manson's would be. Trent broke instruments on stage yeah, but he didn't even play the guitar! He broke Korg SYNTHESIZERS. Even Courtney Love was more butch than Trent.

He always came across as ambiguous, just slightly, in his gender presentation. At 13 I got a VHS copy of the video collection Closure, which pretty much constitutes my sexual awakening. Trent is sort of girly, but still a dude. In hot pants, fingering himself onstage. He is not, of course, like other boys. His sex isn't named or discussed or even really enjoyed (he never smiles).

He is petulant. He is a bossy bottom.

Trent was a sex symbol to his male fans. Boys at school who were otherwise totally scared of being called a fag could admit a sexual attraction to Trent. This was somehow acceptable. Trent was almost above or outside of the realm of queerness. He was up for grabs. This was a popular sentiment among a certain type of straight boy at my high school. I don't know if they are a specific type to the Bay Area. Boys who wore all black and doc martens and were sort of stocky. The boys who got facial hair really early. They shaved their heads except for one long section at the front, which they wore slicked back into a ponytail. Sort of like a mow hawk if you gelled it down. These boys were pre-Trench Coat Mafia. Sensitive, but behind a wall. Awkward. They had goth girlfriends. These are the boys who would always work on the stage crew in the drama department. Strong, husky, aloof guys. Vaguely threatening boys. Perpetually smoking clove cigarettes. And admitting, timidly, that they would go bi for Trent.

Part of being queer is that we have to map our desires onto a largely heterosexual culture. I have to pretend that when boys sing about love on the radio, that maybe they're singing about loving another boy. Trent Reznor sanctions this ambiguous desire. The object is probably female, but the expression is female too. There is so much in the slavery, power play, and false masculinity in Trent's songs. Nearly every boy I've ever kissed has had something in common with Trent Reznor. Either superficially / physically, or some other reason (junkies). He is my TYPE. My Dream Man. Trent shows us the pain and power in explicit desire. To articulate our sexual wants is the most dangerous thing we can do. The only thing more powerful, more dangerous than having our desires, is actually getting them.


d.m.s. said...

i wish i was as smart as max steele

i'm working on it.

Anonymous said...

Trent has an black girlfriend who he sodomizes every saturday night. He had some crush on this other music guy..someone who works with Marylin Manson, name starts with a V...anyways reznor was turned down when the dude replied its not like that he's just not into guys so trent went out and got some black girl to be his b**ch and sodimze every saturday night. So Trent may be bisexual.

Abigail said...

"The object is probably female, but the expression is female too."

Really agreed with this and with the final line of your post. Excellent post, btw. I read this a few months ago, bookmarked it and came back to it tonight, and still found it great. So yeah.

JP said...

u are so full of reason!!! I had never really fully realized the aggressive femeninity of Trent's lyrics until now!!! Loved it!