"Kids"

July 18, 2018
By MadProphet SILVER, Tallahassee, Florida
MadProphet SILVER, Tallahassee, Florida
8 articles 0 photos 0 comments

One question that is asked whenever this film is brought up is, "what was the point of all of this?" I think that the pointless nature of this movie is a reflection of the subliminal futility of life. I understand why this film garnered so much controversy, its graphic depiction of sex, violence and drug abuse creates an uneasy feeling for a majority of the audience. With that being said, I believe that this film is strengthened by its controversy and in all honesty, it was a film that was truly ahead of its time. The characters are real and gritty and they consistently make terrible decisions, but what makes this storyline so impactful is that these are such young characters being forced into extremely mature situations. I feel like Kids would have had a much better reception if it had been made in modern times, this film opened a discussion on subjects that adults weren't ready to confront, especially in regards to adolescents. The risks that Harmony Korine and Larry Clark chose to take paid off very well in this classic piece of filmmaking.

"Kids" is the story of the intertwining lives of adolescents living in New York City. The film begins by having the viewer follow a day in the life of Telly and Casper. They engage in hedonistic activity and meet up with other juveniles. Meanwhile, Jenny, a former romantic partner of Telly's, discovers that she is HIV positive because of Telly and decides to venture through the city to confront him about it.

There are many human-based conflicts presented throughout this film. The most prevalent conflict surrounds the concept of sex. Throughout the movie, Harmony Korine establishes the contrasting ideas that males and females typically have regarding sex. (The scene that shows both boys and girls giving their differing opinions on sex exemplifies this point.) The varying principles regarding sex result in disastrous outcomes for a majority of the characters, ranging from sexual assault to rape.

The element of hierarchy is essential to the story told in this film. One of the most important societal conflicts presented is the issue of classism. Telly and Casper are impoverished heterosexual white males desperate for money and the film does not shy away from depicting this aspect of their lives. While these characters are members of the lower class, the film illustrates the complexity of their status in American society through presenting scenes regarding issues such as homelessness and homophobia. Sexism, primarily misogyny, is another important societal conflict present throughout this film, there are multiple instances where females are sexually harassed by their male peers and it is indicative of the gender roles forced upon these two groups of people.

A lot of the symbolism present throughout this movie is due to the visual imagery. During scenes like the one where a homeless man missing his lower torso begs for spare change on the subway, the film is showing the audience the sobering reality of the lives that these people lead. Another scene with a much deeper meaning is the scene that comes just before the end of the film, which merely shows little snippets of actual life in New York City. When I first watched this movie, I thought that this scene was incredibly stupid, especially since it was randomly interjected after Casper had raped Jennie. Upon further analysis of this film, I discovered that this scene was important because it showed the viewer what inspired Harmony Korine to make this film in the first place, the gritty and vibrant atmosphere of 1990's New York City.

The dialogue in this film also serves a greater purpose. An example of this is how throughout the film, Telly and Casper, two white males use the term, "nigga," despite being primarily surrounded by a racially diverse group of people. This is indicative of the way that a lot of teenagers growing up in a more progressive time for the country were able to get along in spite of ignorance. Another example of how diction affected this film is the dialogue that shows the male and female characters' opinions about sex. The way that the film chooses to have a male character declare a statement about sex, only to have a female character completely negate that comment in a quick transition illustrates the miscommunications that males and females typically have regarding sex.

In general, I believe that this film serves as a commentary on the perversion of childhood innocence by modern American society. The film depicts controversial such as violence, drug abuse and sexual assault while the main characters themselves are still incredibly young. This is the point behind the film’s title, Kids, it’s showing the audience the horror of this reality and the effect that it has on young minds.



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