Love/Hate Mail 

Breaking the glass control booth

I was unnecessarily skeptical of [your cover story], expecting a pop princess story to be mistaken for a feministic technology tale ("Unbalanced Mix," June 3). After reading the whole article, I would like to say thank you! As an 18-year-old female I was a certified audio engineer in Baltimore, Md. I soldered cables, lugged speakers to rooftops, and manned the board during the lead engineer's bathroom breaks ... only to be asked if I was a singer! One hundred percent of this came from non-musicians/engineers. I believe a lot of girls don't know the profession exists, and at the very least this article will make some ask, "What the hell are all those knobs for?" and look into it. Someday women will not have to choose between being one of the guys or using their sex appeal to advance in any environment — we will simply be great at what we do.

A decade later and I was one of the many to leave the industry for a steady schedule. I now own an auto-repair shop in Middle Tennessee. Ahhh, equality in progress.

Lesa De Simone
Bell Buckle

No more superstar producers?

I attended a seminar about the "music business" with a panel of Nashville industry heavyweights where the common consensus was that 90 percent of country music is purchased by female consumers while the other 10 percent is purchased for men by their wives or girlfriends ("Unbalanced Mix," June 3). Nashville has seen an increase of women in the boardrooms of major labels, publishers and affiliate organizations involved with country music in the last three to five years.

It would only follow that the "tastemakers" or producers of country music would become increasingly more female, since it would appear that they would have a better ear as to what female country fans would want to hear in country music.

I wish them the best. It has become difficult to be a "legendary" producer when the budget spent by labels to produce an album has increasingly shrunk as it mirrors the downward spiral of music sales. Will there be another Rick Rubin? George Martin? It is hard to say when the current Pro Tools-produced music has the same tonal spectrum. The attitude outside of the "Big Music Business" is that the artists can do it themselves in their bedroom with a laptop. The Country Music Business is one of the last "old school" giant systems still fairly in place as the music business has become more archaic in general. If there is a female who will make it as an all-time iconic producer, it will happen in country music. Unfortunately, the money may not follow like it did 15 years ago.

Brad Hardisty
Nashville

A different slant on 'Humpers'

I disagree with virtually everything Scene critic Mike D'Angelo said about Harmony Korine's Trash Humpers, except one aspect of his analogy with John Cage's 4'33' — that with any concept, the audience interaction or response is an important aspect of the concept itself ("Trash or Art?," May 27). Like any true poem — whether sweet and illuminating or dark and horrific, or both — the work will evoke completely different responses from different audiences. Mr. Korine indicates that people have walked out of Trash Humpers after seeing only the first five minutes, and that pretty much parallels what Mr. D'Angelo states in his critique, that "after about five minutes," he gets the point, and that therefore the work is presumably not worth experiencing to the end.

The problem with that position is that no matter how much of a randomly compiled work Trash Humpers is in theory, it is nonetheless a work that has been thoroughly processed through the filter of its creator. The work in fact has deliberately conceived threads of a continuous narrative with a beginning, middle and end. Anyone who stays until the completion of the experience will see frictional themes built around diametrically opposed elements of artificial old vs. artificial young; of perverse procreation and the "garbagizing" of human seed vs. the nonreligious end of existence; of dead bodies (which matter-of-factly appear by the side of the road or in a kitchen) vs. symbols of birth and innocence. This last theme is continuously developed through the images of a doll which is initially abused by a child, then dragged through streets and parking lots by bicycles in repetitive and progressive abuse, culminating with the masked female character quite unexpectedly embracing a real baby, with real warmth and real lament. ...

It is therefore not possible to "get the point" of Trash Humpers after only five minutes, unless one has no plans to actually think about the work beyond the surface of its subversive components. One might as well have walked out of A Clockwork Orange after getting that the film employs masks, penises and violence in a nihilistic parallel universe. What was in fact remarkable when sitting in a theater to watch Trash Humpers with a full audience is that the work is totally mesmerizing from beginning to end — that while it is a work of pure and deliberately subversive cinema, it is actually entertaining to behold.

For anyone who is stopped at the gates when encountering a work of subversive cinema, it would be worth reading Film as a Subversive Art by Amos Vogel, as well as Film/Cinema/Movie: A Theory of Experience by Gerald Mast, which lays out the full architecture of visual and aural elements that can be used or not used when creating a motion picture work. In the end, subversive cinema is designed to stick one or more pins in the balloon of hype and myth that a society builds around itself, and even around its art forms. It portrays extremes to call attention to the issues it is addressing or even the unconscious responses to the world it may be attempting to express. Judging by the fact that Trash Humpers has appeared on the cover of the Nashville Scene, Mr. Korine has obviously succeeded in calling attention to his efforts.

Andy van Roon
Nashville

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