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The Kids Aren't Alright -- And Neither Is Lynne

It's clear that Lynne Cheney has never seen the film she cites as the prime example of Hollywood at its worst.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 9/22/2000

For once, NewsMax doesn't get the entire blame for lies and misinformation appearing on its site. It was just parroting what the wife of the Republican vice presidential candidate had to say.

A Sept. 18 NewsMax story summarizes Lynne Cheney's appearance on Fox's "Fox News Sunday" (talk about your right-wing synergy). More accurately, the story summarizes Cheney's attack on a particular movie and the man who produced it.

The producer in question here is Harvey Weinstein of Miramax Films, a backer of Hillary Clinton's run for New York's Senate seat. Don't hold your breath waiting for Cheney to criticize George W. Bush's seat on the board of a company that financed the making of a slasher film called "The Hitcher."

The film in question is "Kids," released in 1995. Cheney's main problem is that instead of releasing the film with the NC-17 rating given to it by the film ratings board, Weinstein released it unrated. "This is inexcusable," Cheney is quoted as saying.

NewsMax embellished the story, saying that Weinstein "tried to sneak a poronographic film past the movie ratings board." That's a pretty blatant misstatement; while there is onscreen sex, there's no nudity, let alone the gynecological detail that most people associate with pornography. Additionally, there was a lot of publicity at the time about this movie's rating problems, and most people are aware that an movie that is released "unrated" is done so because of its content.

And the content? "This is a film about kids having sex," Cheney rants. "This is a film about kids shooting up drugs."

Well, technically, yes. But there is an entire plot to the movie that Cheney has decided to ignore in order to punch up the salacious content: A teen girl who has tested HIV-positive is trying to track down one of the aforementioned amoral teens, the only person she has had sex with, to tell him. The film turns into a race against time as our amoral teen is in the process of trying to bed yet another virgin.

Cheney continues: "We have decided in this society you don't show kids having sex and doing drugs." "We" did, huh? Perhaps Cheney can produce the minutes of the meeting where "we" decided this.

Cheney is falling back on the classic criticize-what-you-haven't-seen tactic of assuming depiction of a certain behavior equals glorification of it. This is like dismissing "Saving Private Ryan" because the first half-hour was so violent and gory; it refuses to consider the context.

Had Cheney bothered to actually watch the movie before criticizing it, she would know that "Kids" is, at its base, a morality tale in its own way, matter of fact but in your face.

Here's what famed movie critic Roger Ebert had to say about it: "the film is intended as a wake-up call, and for some kids, it may be a lifesaver. Other kids should probably not see it. The film received an NC-17 rating by the MPAA, and then a decision was made to release it 'unrated'; in many markets, it will be 'adults only.' It is so raw, bleak and unfiltered that such a policy is appropriate, and yet there will be kids who should see this movie, and my hunch is, somehow they'll find it."

Then, Cheney tries to go in for the kill: "The book it was based on is pornographic. You cannot buy it."

Both statements are wrong.

The movie was not based on a book. It was an original screenplay written by a then-19-year-old named Harmony Korine. The screenplay was issued in book form and, yes, you can buy it. Both Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble have it in stock.

So, what have we learned? 1) Lynne Cheney has decided to spread a few lies in order to score some political points; and 2) the position of "fact-checker" does not exist at NewsMax.

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