During his career, Trent Reznor has had a curious relationship with his fans. His music has always been raw, personal, deeply confessional; yet, Trent himself was pretty mysterious--prone to disappearing for years on end rather than having his personal relationships and breakdowns broadcast in the tabloids and on gossip sites. Occasionally he'd post a few cryptic or sarcastic words on nin.com, sending his fans into an absolute tizzy.
In recent years, however, he's been surprisingly open and keen on interaction with his fans. He has been lurking and posting on NIN message boards; blogging; posting pictures of his various pets, his studio, and his travels; letting us remix his music; giving us a free album and other goodies; answering fan questions in online interviews; asking us to make mostly awful videos in response to "Ghosts I-IV," (except for this one, which is BRILLIANT); and lately, embracing the addictive powers of Twitter and urging us all to save a life. Most surprisingly, he has revealed more of his personal life to us than ever before. The days of scouring the dark corners of the Internet for any mention of "Trent Reznor and girlfriend" are over. Trent is in love, people, and he wants to shout it from the mountaintops, whether the fangirls can handle it or not.
I would say about 95 percent of us are delighted with this opportunity to reach out to Trent and regularly express our admiration, support and undying love to him through various media. There are some individuals, however, who have been continually harassing the guy to the point that it's pushing him--a total computer geek and internet addict--offline. I've checked out some of their profiles on Twitter, but I'm not going to name anyone in particular or link to them because they do not need any more fucking attention, negative or otherwise.
Today, Trent wrote an essay of sorts on nin.com, reflecting on Twitter and other online communities and how the disadvantages are starting to outweigh the benefits. You can read it here. I don't really approve of the part where he takes revenge on Metal Sludge haters by calling them FAT and UGLY (oooh! Burn!)--he comes off looking sizeist, and like there's nothing else wrong with these people other than their appearance? Please. But mostly, this post was just really sad to me. Trent really has given us so much in terms of his music and giving his fans so many opportunities to communicate with him and each other. And in return, the people who hate him because they can't have him or the people who are pissed because he's not really the Trent of their gothemo dreams have been making his life fucking miserable. Theirs is a misplaced, imaginary love turned to anger turned to hate, and I'm sure at times it's probably scary for Trent.
I've not really gotten myself involved in Trent's online spats because a) I don't need to be his freaking toadie; he can fight his own battles and b) although I can understand why he loses patience and calls people out based on what they say to him, I don't like it when NIN fans then employ mob action on people who are most likely delusional or disturbed. Also, c) I feel like Trent kinda perpetuates the problem by giving the haters the attention they crave. Again, based on the things that people say to him, like, "I hope you overdose again" or racist comments about his fiancee or people accusing him of a PR stunt when he has been devoting hours before every show meeting-and-greeting for the sake of raising a million dollars for Eric De La Cruz, I can understand why he gets cranky. Shit, someone on here calls me fat, and it puts me in a pissy mood. This feeling of "You don't even know me!" and "What have I ever done to you? Fuck off!" Yeah, I can identify. But we have just a handful of the Anonymi, who are easily ridiculed or ignored. Trent has the deranged "fans" who think they can win his heart by insulting Mariqueen. He has the people who are just fucking assholes who enjoy picking a fight as long as they don't have to say these things in person. He's got the racists, the dissatisfied customers, the eternal cynics. Granted, this is a small number of actual people, but they seem to be PROLIFIC. And Twitter is set up to allow people to post all manner of inanity 24 hours a day from their computers, their phones, their ipods. Unless he can tune it all out somehow, I don't blame him for retiring the Twitter account.
To be honest, I kind of miss Trent Reznor, Man of Mystery. I loved the music, the persona, and the rare glimpses into his real life that revealed that he's a funny, nerdy guy at heart and that he really likes animals and video games. Not expecting to ever be a part of his real life, I kind of liked the rest being left up to my imagination. It's much funnier to *imagine* Trent the tortured, angst-filled artist eating Lucky Charms and watching Good Morning America in his underwear. Not that I don't love and respect the real, human Trent that we've had a chance to get to know recently. But if he feels like he needs to withdraw that in order to save his own sanity, I'm cool with that. I don't need him to reveal his soft, vulnerable underbelly if it means that he starts to hate people. My imagination can more than compensate: Trent on a canoe, Trent trying to get a parking sticker from his housing association, Trent in a frou-frou pet boutique agonizing whether he should start his dogs on a raw diet...
But if Trent is still on the fence as to whether he should withdraw completely from the NINerverse, I would like to point out that it was through Twitter and nin.com that he basically raised the money to pay for a man's heart transplant outright. There is incredible stupidity on the Internet, yes, but I'm not willing to say that it's only the idiots who rule.
Oh, and Anonymi? If you're the cause of all this harassment and annoyance, lay off already! Jesus.