The single issue I care most about politically is free speech and freedom of expression. This Film Is Not Yet Rated, which I have previously discussed, is I think one of the most important films made in the past decade. Stores with huge market shares, like Walmart, that decide what material is or is not suitable for their customers drive me insane. I was enraged when a bunch of Congressmen got together to show official displeasure with Ice-T’s “Cop Killer,” and believe me, if Steve Earle’s “F the FCC” comes up on my iPod shuffle, I’m turning it up. It even dismays me that obviously racist material like Amos and Andy and Song of the South have been suppressed from viewers who might want to see what the fuss is all about.
The modern era with its almost omnipresent pornography on the internet has made things tough for a guy like me. It’s not Lenny Bruce and Naked Lunch people are upset about these days, and who really wants to be the one at a dinner party arguing for the necessity for the preservation of 2 Live Crew?
Freedom of expression is paramount to me, but that doesn’t mean that certain things I’m forced to defend don’t still skeeve me to the bone. I was once on an el train in Chicago and could overhear a child of less than ten singing along with a rap song he was listening to that essentially was a boast about an upcoming rape. It didn’t change my views, but that has to send shivers up your spine, especially since most censorship arguments are based on the dangers to the competent raising of children.
One person who is obsessed with the state of our youth is Larry Clark. Larry Clark creeps me out more than any film maker or writer that I’ve ever come across. Clark was an accomplished photographer, who made a big splash in the movies with his film Kids. Kids is scarier than any horror movie ever made. If I even thought the characters depicted in Kids, were representative of even 1% of the youth of America, I’d pray endlessly for Armageddon. These “kids” make the amoral drugged out youth of River’s Edge look like Harvard Business School graduates. It’s final scene where a drugged up, barely conscious, HIV positive Chloe Sevigny gets raped at a party by another teen is perhaps the single most disturbing and repulsive thing that I’ve ever seen in a movie.
I’ve now seen three of Clark’s movies and I’m completely convinced that he isn’t a voice out warning us about the dangerous youth we’re spawning, but instead just a creepy guy who has a fetish for filming graphically sexual material featuring heroin thin, barely pubescent teens, and I haven’t even seen Ken Park, which apparently makes the rest of his work look like Romper Room.
Kids opens with a graphic sex scene between two of age actors, who barely look 14. Both the boy and the girl are incredibly emaciated. Clark’s 1997 film Another Day in Paradise featured two actors, Vincent Kartheiser and Natasha Gregson Wagner, that looked like they were right off the cover of Heroin Chic magazine.
My biggest worries about Clark’s “Is it a wake up call or a fetish” art were confirmed with 2001’s Bully, which was actually based on a true story and again shares many similarities with Razor’s Edge. If you excised all the graphic sex scenes out of Bully, you wouldn’t have enough material left to post something meaningful on YouTube.
Macaulay Caulkin’s ex Rachel Minor (21 but looking about 16) is about a razor’s edge away from becoming a hard core porn actress in the film. Clark even manages to film her in the nude as she uses the bathroom.The real life character that Minor portrayed was actually noted to be quite overweight, and of course you can’t be overweight and be in a Larry Clark movie
The film also features stick figure thin Bijou Phillips, who is similarly shown in numerous graphic sex scenes usually hopped up on whatever drug happened to be available at the time.
So how did I finally decide that Clark wasn’t a concerned provocateur and was instead just a sick dude with a creepy fetish for filming sex scenes with pre-pubescent looking actors? It comes down to one scene in Bully that I consider to be the most gratuitous shot that I’ve ever seen onscreen.
Bijou Philips is talking on the phone, which apparently bores Larry Clark’s camera, because it soon decides that this is a great time to pan down, gander up her mini-skirt and give us a close up. What exactly was he trying to say there? Even though Bijou is willing to fellate a boy she just met in the back seat of a moving car, she amazingly still often wears panties while talking on the phone?
There’s literally no artistic reason that I can imagine that justifies this shot. Was Clark supposed to be warning me that Bijou was potentially giving the family’s cat or dog a really tantalizing view? There is just no way to witness this scene without a complete reevaluation of the tons of footage that he’s produced that were extremely creepy to begin with.
So what’s the point? Perhaps maybe just that if we ever wind up having a discussion about modern day censorship, and you bring up Clark, I’ll have to defend him, but I’ll be upfront about it the whole way. There is without a doubt no other artist in the history of the world that makes my stomach churn quite like Larry Clark.