Written and Directed by Bill Condon
– Liam Neeson as Alfred Kinsey
– Laura Linney as Clara McMillen
– Chris O’Donnell as Wardell Pomeroy
– Peter Sarsgaard as Clyde Martin
– Timothy Hutton as Paul Gebhard
Once again I feel the need to review a film that Matt Cale has covered briefly in one of his film festival litanies and expand upon what he said. So far, I think I’m doing pretty good (see The Barbarian Invasion and/or Sideways) and I hope that this review of Kinsey is justified as a stand-alone endeavor, redundancy be damned. Shall we begin?
Liam Neeson is Dr. Alfred Kinsey, the man made famous for his infamous book, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male
first published in 1948. My own father was a research psychologist who
studied aberrant behavior in male schizophrenics (much of it sexual in
nature), so I had been aware of Kinsey’s work since a very young age.
My dad had nothing but respect for the man, holding both his
statistical methodology and his firm belief in empiricism in the
highest regard. So it was with a great deal of shock that as I aged and
started to talk to other people about Mr. Kinsey, they looked at him in
a dimmer light. Sometimes a much dimmer light. Why? Kinsey said
that Pedophilia was, “normal.” Kinsey was himself a pervert and wrote
these books as a way of justifying his own sick behavior. He pierced
his cock with a toothbrush. And my favorite; the only people that would
talk so frankly about sex back in the mid 1940s were out and out
degenerates–his results are tainted as a result. Anyhow, like anything
in life, the coin has two sides.
To me, the most shocking thing about “Prok” (Professor Kinsey)
was his intense religious upbringing. Early in the film his brother
admits to a young Alfred that he had a wet dream. Kinsey suggests they
pray about it. Admittedly, it would be easy to say, “Ah, he’s just
rebelling against his puritanical roots–no wonder he’s such a dirty
freak.” But there is so much more to the Kinsey story than that. Now of
course, being beaten with the bible from a young age is part of the story, it just isn’t the whole
story. More revealing is when he and “Mac” (Laura Linney as Clara
McMillen) get married, their wedding night is the stuff of nightmares.
Both virgins, they have no idea what to do, what to expect and barely
any notion of where to begin (as Kinsey grabs his wife’s breast for
presumably the first time, he asks, “may I?”). This so upsets
Kinsey–that two people so in love are forced into such massive
ignorance by a society afraid of the mere mention of sex–that he vows
to right what he perceives to be a terrible wrong. But unlike a work of
fiction, where he would stomp his foot and begin crusading, it takes
Kinsey another twenty years to really get going and begin recording his
Before becoming the chronicler of American sexuality, Kinsey
was a biologist studying some sort of wasp. The movie indicates that
through the study of this insect, Kinsey came to realize that their
sexual behavior isn’t that much different from our own. But,
one of the crucial differences is that we have a culture which dictates
sexual behavior whereas the birds and the bees do not (obviously,
Kinsey’s work pre-dated Jane Goodall’s). Furthermore, our culture is
the way it is because of ignorance. And the antidote for
ignorance is education. Lots and lots of education. After a newly
married student couple pay Dr. Kinsey a visit and admit to their own
sexual dysfunction, Kinsey decides to offer a course on human
sexuality. It quickly becomes the most popular course at the college.
And it is through this class, that Kinsey has his real breakthrough; he
records the sexual histories of his students and is shocked at
what he learns. Expecting everyone to be as “priggish” as he was, he
quickly learns that premarital sex, infidelity, masturbation and
homosexuality are commonplace. Extremely commonplace.
Now remember of course that most if not all of our states still
have weird, antiquated “sodomy-laws” on the books (laws so weird that
they equate oral sex with sodomy) and homosexuality itself is still
technically illegal all over the place. As recently as today I was reading about a group called Concerned Women for America (CWA) who not only want sodomy-laws placed back
on the books, but who really believe that Kinsey’s secret goal was to
normalize pedophilia and bestiality. And of course these are the same
kooks who back in the 40s and 50s said that Kinsey was a communist
infiltrator. For all of his personal flaws (flaws that we all have, by
the way), Kinsey was a liberator. I’m not married, nor will I ever
probably get married. It’s just not in me/who I am. However, I have,
and will continue to, enjoy sex, greatly. Kinsey opened the door to that and I am SO
thankful. I get immense pleasure from masturbation, as do the
overwhelming majority of you out there–we can all thank Kinsey for
that most percious of gifts. I like watching drunk girls make out with
each other, etc. Kinsey man, all Kinsey. So, like, if any of you have
ever engaged in non-marital sex and enjoyed yourselves and weren’t condemned/arrested for doing so, you have Kinsey to thank.
I guess my point is that, OK, look, even if his methods were not
perfect and his motives were not “pure,” so what? Glass houses you
motherfuckers. Kinsey didn’t invent blowjobs (the French did), he just
said, “Holy shit, most of the women in this room have had a cock in
their mouth. Hmmm… maybe that’s not deviant behavior?” Actually, that
is what I enjoyed most about the movie. When Kinsey was confronted with
the idea that oral sex prevents pregnancy, he dismisses it as absurd.
But when asked, “how do you know?” Kinsey admits that he doesn’t know,
but he would love to find out. That my friends, is the mark of a true
scientist. The thirst for actual knowledge for the sake of increasing
human understanding is one of the most noble and beautiful of man’s
activities. Shooting an arrow into a wall and painting a bull’s-eye
around it is one of the most ignoble. And I would say that holding onto
beliefs written down thousands of years ago is exactly that–dressing
ignorance up as something it is not. In my mind, Kinsey is one of those rare biopics–like Ghandi–where
the quality of the film, the acting, everything–is transcended by the
message of liberation and hope. In this case it is, “free your ass and
your mind will follow.”
Special Ruthless Ratings:
jerk off in 10 seconds and slept with a 1,000 children: That was
bizarre and slightly disturbing. But, research is research. Kinsey just
reported what was told to him.
not go rape kids: I like how it is always, “God exists–don’t do bad
things/God doesn’t exist–I’m going to start raping!” I remember a
friend of mine who was raised by born agains and was herself a born
again telling me that in Heaven you can smoke and have orgies and
drink… Heaven for me was 2002.
acknowledge that it takes place. I’m not for religion. I see it as a
sign of mental illness. But, 90% of the world or more believes strongly
that an invisible superhero in the sky invented puppies and needs cash,
constantly. I don’t think Kinsey was saying that we need more
Pedophilia. What he was saying, however, was that Pedophilia is very
common place. So is homosexuality. Which, from a scientific perspective
puberty, no one has sexual feelings. Er, better put, no one is capable
of acting on their sexual feelings in a proper way. After puberty it’s
all fair game.
age of consent of girls in Quebec is twelve? The age of consent is a
societal construction. Seems to me that since most people begin having
sex at age 16, that’s what the law should indicate.
Who cares what I think? Also, that has gone on since time immemorial.
You can’t stop it by passing a law.