The Bad Son is a book by Harmony Korine that was released as a companion piece to Korine's solo exhibition at the Taka Ishii Gallery in 1998, where the works were first shown. The book, made up of pictures of Macaulay Culkin and Rachel Miner, his wife at the time, was published by the gallery in a limited edition of 1,000.
The pictures that became The Bad Son arose from the music video for Sonic Youth's Sunday, which was directed by Korine in the same year and featured both Culkin and Miner.
The Bad Son includes the following text by Korine, attributed to Culkin:
I have never been one to enjoy watching cartoons. When I was a child, I read the book Oliver Twist and I liked it very much. My father was upset at me because he told me that a child my age should watch cartoons and not read books until I was the proper age. I began starring in movies when I was five years old. Most notably the Home Alone movies. It all happend very quickly. My fame at first was fun for me. It allowed me to run amok and make money acting and doing things that I did in real life. Once, I set my older brother on fire when he was asleep. I felt guilty because my brother suffered severe pain and agony. I was not trying to be mean. I was just born with a purpose.Excerpts from The Bad Son can be seen here
I can remember being born. I was born a young pale prince. I recall at a very young age that the lord spoke to me while I was climbing a tree in my backyard. He said very clearly, "you are different from all other children. You, my son, are a prince. I have chosen three princes to be born in your era. One has already been born and died. He was a child who walked alone and chose a path of loneliness and solemn grace. You are the second prince to be birthed, but your path is much different. You will stand in front of others and your ivory skin will separate you. You must make up your own rules as you go. It is your duty to cause trouble, to make people angry, and to go against your natural father for you are a special son. A son who need not to worry, a son who gifts the world but causes heartache to all who interfere. You will not pay for your evil deeds because the world beckons your haunt. You are my child, the second prince birthed in this era. You are the ivory prince... the bad son.
Dennis Cooper writing in ArtForum magazine:
...Korine's intentions regarding Culkin seem rather a consensual, even shy attempt to locate the former child star's current cultural value. If these fuzzy, low-key, poetic photographs cast Culkin as unwitting jailbait, they're nonetheless respectful of the studied goofiness and mild disinterest with which Culkin strikes Korine's mock-candid poses. An accompanying "autobiographical" prose poem, ostensibly written by Culkin, reveals him to be a far weirder cat than the images allow. The result, as in Korine's more complicated films, is less a voyeuristic exercise than a benign and resonant standoff between an artist who has an original feel for where meaning lies and a subject whose meaning leaves a lot to be desired...