THE PEOPLE VS. LARRY FLYNT (1996)
Sound Bites
(see the works cited page for full citations)
This is not just a different interpretation of a historical figure, like Oliver Stone’s Nixon.  This is like doing a film about Vietnam in which you say the worst thing about it was that it was tacky, but it really wasn’t all that dangerous, and it was actually quite a lot of fun.  (Steinem, quoted in Svetkey)

Logically speaking, the greater the scumbag Flynt turns out to be, the greater the constitutional triumph that his rights to publish have been protected.  (Billen)

For a film about sleaze, it is squeakily unpornographic.  For a film about injury and death, it is remarkably humorous.  For borderline art-house, its plotting is so conventional that it follows the structure of a three-act biopic boy from nowhere finds success.  (Billen)

The People vs. Larry Flynt takes its greatest liberty by presenting Flynt as a bucolic innocent, ingenuously tripped up by his libido, incorrigibly but harmlessly anti-authoritarian.  This is not the Flynt I meet, a canny businessman who well understands the modern meaning of “spin.”  (Billen)

Forman states, “You don’t have to be faithful to the facts.  History has to be faithful to the facts.  Drama has to be faithful to the spirit of the facts.”  (DeWitt)

Forman’s movie would have been more thought-provoking—and an even more powerful defense of the First Amendment—if it had forced viewers to confront what Flynt actually produces.  But to do so would have risked the dread NC-17 rating and discomfited the middle-class liberals whose political complacencies and horror of vulgarity the film caters to.  The result is a movie that celebrates the First Amendment while embodying its limits.  It champions the uncensored while blurring its own crotch shots.  (Pollitt)

Degrading is a subjective term. I find commercials in which women become orgasmic over soapsuds to be tremendously degrading.  The bottom line is that every woman has the right to define what is degrading and liberating for herself.  (McElroy)

For Communists, Jesus Christ was a pervert.  (Forman, in McBride)

Pornography is unimportant in comparison with what I feel this movie is about.  (Forman, in McBride)

We have to tolerate things that we don’t necessarily like, so that we can be free.  Free press is not just freedom for the thought you love, but freedom for the thought you hate. (Flynt, in Biography)

[To obtain pornography in the 1950’s] One had to have a “connection,” and one had to venture into seedy and possibly dangerous places to “score.”  (Podhoretz 372)

No doubt out of fear that seeing what Hustler is really like would alienate the audience’s sympathy for Flynt. (Podhoretz 386)

If there is a case of heterosexual pornography that truly does degrade women, it is Hustler, in whose eyes they are all filthy sluts who deserve to be brutalized.  (Podhoretz 387)

So as far as Forman and his admirers are concerned, anyone who opposes the likes of Larry Flynt is still backward or wicked or both, and the corrupting effects of pornography on our society and on our culture (if indeed there are any) are still a small price to pay (if indeed a price it is) for our most precious freedom. (Podhoretz 390)

And so it is that I have fallen to wondering uneasily whether, if we wish to clean up our moral and spiritual environment and at the same time put at least some of the weight back into sex, we should consider a restoration of censorship.  (Podhoretz 392)

You are taking all the fun out of sex. . . . don’t you know that pornography soon becomes boring? (Heinrich Blucher, quoted in Podhoretz)

The problem is, that while the film triumphantly exhibits the (seemingly obvious) “evils of censorship,” it hypocritically censors out the most controversial parts.  The film champions free speech, yet is not able to visually depict the potentially harmful material that the First Amendment defends.  (Stephanie McElroy, Issue Essay [1])

The People vs. Larry Flynt will indefinitely show that, in the latter part of the twentieth century, Flynt did America the noble service of protecting our country from individuals that were trying to inhibit the content showed in the film.  By not depicting the true nature of material, the movie encourages ignorance about the content of Hustler because people think they are seeing the truth.  (Stephanie McElroy, Issue Essay [22])
 
 

Copyright (c) 2003 by Stephanie McElroy, Undergraduate Student at Lehigh University.

This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of the U.S. copyright law, and it may be archived and redistributed in electronic form, provided that the author is notified and no fee is charged for access. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the consent of the author.