Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I Have A Crush On Every Boy: Trent Reznor

by Nails

There are a few things that can get a girl geek's heart going pitter-patter: the release of Portal 2, a Dr. Who-inspired Etsy treasury, a Firefly marathon while wearing the Jayne Cobb hat you knitted yourself. But since time immemorial -- before the dark times, before the Empire -- nothing gets a lady nerd's blood pumping like a hot guy nerd. (Or another hot girl nerd. Oh Christina Hendricks, I'll get to you soon enough.)

To celebrate the men of geekdom, Stellar Four will be bringing you a regular column featuring our favorite crushes. And since I'm the one writing the inaugural column, it's only fitting that it be about my long-term imaginary lovah and pen-namesake, Trent Reznor -- musician, producer, frontman of the band Nine Inch Nails, and now film composer.

Gush with Nails about her nerdy heartthrob after the jump.

Trent Reznor's nerd cred was solidified a few weeks ago after winning the Oscar for Best Original Score for his work on David Fincher's The Social Network, a film that could not have captured the modern nerd zeitgeist any better unless the script had been tapped out on an iPhone and posted as Aaron Sorkin's status updates. But long before that, Trent was banking the nerd angst he'd need to write his songs by being a total band geek in high school. Who knew that that guy on sax would be smashing keyboards and rolling in mud on stage about a decade later?

This one time, at band camp... (Image via Mental Floss)

After putting down the sax and picking up his synth, Reznor came into his own with Nine Inch Nails. Reznor is the driving creative force behind the band and only consistent member, with an ever-changing lineup of hired guns joining him in the studio and onstage. His first three albums, Pretty Hate Machine, The Downward Spiral, and The Fragile became synonymous with angst long before it was sullied by today's silly emo bands. Reznor's music gave voice to those all-too common angry nerd emotions: rage, frustration, loneliness, despair, and the freedom one feels after deciding to stop trying to conform to society's expectations. (The refrain from "Piggy," "nothing can stop me now, 'cause I don't care anymore" means to his fans what Janis Joplin's "Freedom's just another name for nothing left to lose" meant to her generation.)

But appealing to outcasts isn't the only way Reznor's work falls into the nerd category. He sometimes straight-up quotes other nerdy works in his own. The first track on The Downward Spiral features an audio sample of George Lucas's dystopian film THX-1138, and the later video for "The Perfect Drug" is rife with visual echoes of Edward Gorey and Stanley Kubrick. Reznor and video director Mark Romanek's most famous work, NIN's controversial "Closer" clip, also certainly inspired a wave of horror fans (and BDSM enthusiasts) with its sexy-creepy imagery.

More recently, Reznor dove headfirst into creating an entire sci-fi narrative with his Year Zero album and its accompanying alternate reality game. The songs, artwork, websites, and short stories in the Year Zero universe portray an America where a terrorist attack has prompted the kind of totalitarian government regime we pinko commie liberals like to worry about, right down to their use of mood-altering drugs to mollify the populace and their pursuit of endless war -- and the story also features a supernatural "Presence" that doesn't seem too happy with us humans. (A Year Zero TV show is currently in the works at BBC America and HBO.)

Reznor is also a tech enthusiast. Realizing that the behemoth record companies were putting a stranglehold on artists, Reznor began giving away tracks to his songs for fans to remix, and now uses the Internet as his primary means of distribution. Fans are encouraged to record his live shows and share the footage with others within the online fan community known as the NINternet. And of course, it was totally adorable to watch him geek out on Twitter about being invited to the Star Trek movie premiere.

In addition to The Social Network, Trent Reznor's music has also appeared in the trippy Natural Born Killers (directed by Oliver Stone) and Lost Highway (directed by the auteur of the weird, David Lynch), and the more recent action eye-candy Wanted. Reznor also scored the classic first-person shooter video game Quake. And now it appears that he'll be continuing his work as a composer with another Fincher collaboration on his American remake of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and then take on the film adaptation of the graphic novel Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Yep, apparently Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is a real thing -- and so is the rumor that Reznor will be appearing in the film as a vampire himself. (That pansy Edward Cullen better move over for a real sexy movie vampire, thank you.)

I know that for me, Trent Reznor is the ultimate nerd crush. He's smart, talented, and has a cute geeky center surrounded by a sexy rock star swagger. He doesn't just make my heart go pitter-pat, he makes it go...

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  1. Wow, I had no idea he scored Quake. Sweet!

  2. And I had no idea he was in marching band. Love!