Flashback Friday: KIDS 21 years on

By Anton Constantinou - @Aberrantin

Spread The Word

There are great hip hop tunes you remember, and then there are the soundtracks you come across them on. 90’s teen flick Kids, boasts possibly one the greatest to date.

This week celebrating its 21st anniversary, the gritty low budget drama has never seemed more relevant – even if it does look a bit dated.

Larry Clark’s directorial debut centres on a group New York teens who drink, smoke, skate and have unprotected sex. By modern standards it’s far from an original plot, but what sets Kids apart from so many other films like it is how raw it is.  Rare is it that a movie looks at Aids so comfortably, but in Kids the epidemic is brought frighteningly close to home- and at a time when it had more less reached its peak.

Telly (Leo Fitzpatrick), the film’s lead, is a good for nothing 17 year old whose on a mission to bed as many virgins as possible. He’s brash, sexist and thinks only of satisfying his carnal desires. The film opens with him making out with a 12 year old girl and eventually persuading her to sleep with him. Any thoughts we might have had about this being a romantic encounter are quickly thrown out the window as Telly brags to buddy, Casper (Justin Pierce) about the particulars of his encounter. “Who am I? I’m the motha-fuckin virgin surgeon,” he says. Casper is just as vile. He shoplifts, urinates in public and at one stage does a gross impression of the menstrual cycle by dipping a sanitary towel in Kool-Aid. But it’s not just the guys who have sex on the brain.

The girls they share a community with are equally as frank. They talk blowjobs, anal sex and losing their virginity so casually you’d swear they were grown adults. But these aren’t adults, these are kids, with little to no sense of responsibility or direction. As the conversation turns to std’s’, we learn that Ruby (Rosario Dawson) and Jennie (Chloe Sevigny) have undertaken an Aids test and are awaiting the results. Ruby is a self confessed slag – if anyone’s got Aids it’s her. But in a tragic turn of fate it’s Jennie who comes back positive, despite only having slept with one guy. Problem is, that guy is Teller, and given his bad reputation it’s no surprise that he’s infected her.

Now on a mission to stop Teller doing the same to other women, it’s too little too late for Jennie, who arrives at a party just as he’s about to bed his latest victim. As she crumbles into a heap on the sofa, Casper, proving himself to be more despicable than we first thought proceeds to rape her in her sleep. Moral of the story: wrap up and get your act together.

There’s a lot to be said about the authenticity of Kids. The voyeuristic filming, vulgar conversations, and semi- amateur cast offer, even by modern standards, a worryingly accurate portrayal of teen life from the bottom up. Location too plays an important part. Since the dawn of cinema New York has proved a popular setting for crime, violence and debauchery, as seen in Taxi Driver, Midnight Cowboy and New Jack City. In Kids the city serves as  teen playground: for youths to spit, drink,fight and get high on. And what better music to compliment that than Boom Bap: that bass thumping, jazz infused style of hip hop which emerged out of New York in the early 90’s.

Kids packs all the old skool joints: Nine- Whutcha Want, A Tribe Called Quest- Oh My God, Jeru the Damaja- Da Bichez and Crooklyn Dodgers- Crooklyn are eased in so seamlessly, you’d swear the film was one long music video. Other big tracks featured include Brand Nubian- Word is BondArtifacts- Wrong Side Of Da Tracks and O.C.- Time’s Up Whether for its soundtrack, story or central themes, Kids remains an important cult classic which today’s youth could really do with becoming better aqquainted with.

Purchase your copy on Amazon now.

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