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'Kinsey' Attire
November 17, 2004

By James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
contributor to

Writer Bill Condon, whose previous work was "God and Monsters," has a bio-pic out that could have been tagged with the same title.

"Kinsey" is a movie about a man who in some folk's minds still stands as a god. In reality, though, the subject of the piece, Alfred Kinsey, was a monster. Don't look for this admission in the flick.

Actually, had it been honest the film could have been thought-provoking, meaningful and maybe even instructive. Instead it's a tedious, pretentious and pseudo-intellectual work of pseudo-art. It's also a blatant attempt to snag some awards.

The marketing plan has been fairly transparent with its super-limited release and poster that trumpets the message "instant Oscar contender." And what better way to get attention and accolades than to profile one of Hollywood's counterculture idols?

The real Kinsey was an entomologist who in the 1940s and 50s transitioned his research from insects to humans because, as he stated, "Human beings are just bigger, more complicated gall wasps." Rejecting morals and viewing sex as merely a biological function, he was the catalyst for the so-called sexual revolution. I guess we're supposed to thank him for that.

In the film, Liam Neeson plays the part of Kinsey. Neeson shows the professor, in the name of research, of course, prying into the sexual history of everyone he comes into contact with, writing a bestseller and eventually becoming a celebrity.

The actor renders a stilted performance, wearing pretty much the same frozen expression throughout the film. Perhaps in an attempt to reproduce the scientific stare Neeson inadvertently captures the pre-Pepto pose.

John Lithgow plays Neeson's father. Despite the make-up, Lithgow's look is too youthful to fit the bill. Kinsey's dad is depicted as a sort of Hollywood version of the "universal Christian" ­ you know, repressed, mean-spirited and fanatical with the attendant mental defects as defined in the Tinseltown handbook.

Tim Curry rounds off the cast. He plays a morality professor who's laced up so tight he makes the Puritans look like party animals.

The film is a robust effort to celebrate Kinsey's bisexuality and includes what appears to have become obligatory in Tinseltown these days; the same-sex love scene. It occurs between Neeson's character and and "Garden State"'s Peter Sarsgaard.

In the movie's repressed, prudish world, Kinsey is shown to be a passionate proponent of the high Hollywood virtues of tolerance, diversity and adultery. And apparently in the name of a couple of other Hollywood virtues, i.e., relativism and non-judgmentalism, all allegations of pedophilia are left out.

In my opinion, a soft trap has been set in an effort to sell the film, and a lot of critics appear to be falling for it. It's one that's been woven into the screenplay and it goes like this: If you don't like what you're watching you're obviously missing something in the intellect department.

But to me there's an "Emperor's New Clothes" thing going on, and we're not supposed to tell what we see; that once again Hollywood is trying to work through its problems on the big screen and Tinseltown therapy is what's on display.

Well, here goes. "Kinsey" has no clothes. It has no merit either.

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Copyright © 2004
James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.

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