Harmony Korine on David Letterman

May 12, 2009

Posted by Nick Sarno

Every six months or so I stumble across the Youtube clip of Harmony Korine’s appearance on David Letterman. There is something I find fascinating about it though, until today, I was never quite sure why. I don’t like late night shows in general, David Letterman’s in particular. And I don’t care for much of Harmony Korine’s work. And I really don’t like celebrities who go before millions of people to shill their products and act as though they’re above going before millions of people to shill their products (see: Joaquin Phoenix).

It wasn’t until watching it this last time that I realized why I like it so much. It’s more than another drug addled movie stumbling through questions. Korine is actually giving real answers to questions that shift between inane and hostile. Here is the clip, below is my translation:

DL: Here is the “pleasantly odd” Harmony Korine. How are you doing, Harmony?

HK: Nice. (I’m no longer sure if this “nice” means “I’m doing nice” or “You just referred to me as ‘pleasantly odd’. Nice, asshole.” Either way, it’s a perfectly acceptable answer.)

DL: You look like shit.

HK: Okay. (Granted, Harmony Korine looks like shit. But, do you think David Letterman would have said the same thing about the Beastie Boys if they performed their new hit single in the same outfit? Probably not.)

DL: No, really. You look like shit. Like you’re on drugs or something.

HK: Yeah, right. I actually had to rent this outfit.

DL: How did that little movie of yours turn out?

HK: Great.

DL: How much money did it make?

HK: I really don’t know. I directed it and, like most directors, I have an accountant to keep track of that.

DL: What about that Titanic movie? It made a lot more money than your movie. Did you like it?

HK: I don’t know. Sure.

DL: Would you, a director of art house movies, like to direct a big budget picture like that?

HK: No, you twat. (Actually, I think his answer of “Well, I’d make the sequel” is pretty funny and I don’t know why it’s received with such bafflement.)

DL: So you wrote a book?

HK: (Laughing about the joke he just made.)

DL: You must be on drugs or something.

HK: Yes, I wrote a novel.

DL: So you’re a novelist now?

HK: Yes. You just introduced the book, remember? (Also, his “I wanted to write the Great American Novel. Well, I’d just settle for it being American” is both funny and humble.)

DL: Look at this piece of crap. You’ve got a page here that’s just one word. What is that? Who’s ever heard of something like that? That’s really stupid.

HK: Yeah, that’s right?

DL: How much do you expect people to pay for something as stupid as this?

HK: I don’t know. It’s a book. Whatever books normally cost.

DL: Would you recommend people buy this book?

HK: I’m the author, so that’s kind of weird. If they’d like something like this, sure. But if I were to recommend something, I’d probably recommend the classics.

DL: Are your publishers happy with this piece of crap?

HK: Well, it’s not like they didn’t read it before they published it.

DL: Do you have a deal to write more books?

HK: I’ll ask my agent.

DL: Which do you like more, writing or directing?

HK: I like both. (Again, a perfectly acceptable answer, which Letterman treats as though it’s insane.)

DL: Really, what kind of drugs are you on?

HK: What’s wrong with that answer? You know, I don’t like you too much.

DL: Like you have a place to talk, you little street punk.

HK: I’d say more, but your attorneys will probably come down on me.

DL: You are on drugs.


2 Responses to “Harmony Korine on David Letterman”

  1. martine syms Says:

    What a bizarre interaction. I have to fave that clip. We just got Korine’s new book in, much different from Crack Up.

  2. urbesque Says:

    How is it different? What’s it like? Like I said, I’m not too in love with Korine’s work, but there’s something fascinating about a lot of it. I absolutely HATED “Kids”, but then again, I absolutely hate Larry Clark. And “Gummo” just sort of gave me a headache. Part of me really likes “Julian Donkey-Boy”. It gives me a headache, too, but there’s also a kind of beauty in it…maybe there’s a lot that I don’t like about it, but it also looks and feels like nothing else. Anyway, my whole point is: even though I don’t always care for what he does, I’m always curious about what he’s going to do next. And I’d love to hear what you have to say about it.


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