Nine Inch Nails’ 1993 “Broken,” the Most Disturbing Music Video Ever Made, Now Legally Online (?)


“Broken” – the short film, not the CD – was like an urban legend in the ’90s. Before YouTube, before cable modems made Internet video manageable, the only way to see a music video MTV wouldn’t show was if the band put it out as a commercially available VHS tape for purchase, for which you were looking at a $30 price tag or so.

Parts of “Broken” made it onto an official video. An edited version of “Pinion,” minus the disgusting punchline, became the opening credits for an MTV show – Alternative Nation, if I recall right. But the real thing was like the video from The Ring, something only bootlegged and spoken about as if in a dare. It didn’t kill you in seven days, but a little part of your soul might die after seeing it.

In a nutshell, this video recounts the final memories of a criminal being hanged. Said memories are about making a snuff video, as he tortures and degrades a victim in the most horrible ways you can imagine, all while making him watch Nine Inch Nails videos. People talk about things like the Saw movies being “torture porn,” but if you see what the late professional “super-masochist” Bob Flanagan does in the “Happiness in Slavery,” video you’ll realize how inaccurate the term is today compared to back then.

The funny thing is that every nerd girl I knew in college, and I mean EVERY ONE, thought Trent Reznor was the ideal man. If anyone else in the world had been associated with something like this, it would probably be female-repellent for life.

No, it’s not embedded after the jump. It’s at the official Nine Inch Nails tumblr, which you can search for if you’re inclined. But I’m serious in saying it pushes even my limits.

UPDATE: Even Vimeo has limits. NIN had to post this followup…

EDIT: VIDEO REMOVED BY VIMEO. This just wasn’t meant for the masses. There is, however, a certain broad inlet of the sea where the land curves inward, inhabited by people who attack and rob ships at sea, where this video can be downloaded in high quality.

The 18 year-old me, however, is glad he finally got to see what all the talk was about. Now I want to see a version of “Closer” without all the “scene missing” parts.