I did a good deed on Friday.
I talked a kid out of watching KIDS, Larry Clarke’s love letter to teenage rape.
The kid was doodling on my board and talking about wanting to see it, and I said, “Don’t do that.”
“Why?” he asked.
“Because,” I explained, “it’s a movie about KIDS who skate from place to place to give people AIDS.”
A girl sitting opposite me agreed, “That’s pretty much it. No joke.”
The doodler grimaced.
I didn’t elaborate on my bias, but I find Larry Clark’s stuff so distasteful. And I like distaste. I’m all for art that gets down and dirty with its subjects and gets rapey and grimy and druggy or whatever but honestly, KIDS feels like a movie Larry Clark made to watch in the dark with a bucket of preheated Crisco. It vibes that way from the opening scene. It vibes that he’s there, with the kids, inserting himself into the storyline, even if it’s as a voyeur, and that’s creepy to me. Clark’s sharing an intimacy with his subjects, and his brand of intimacy turns his subjects into objects, and I don’t want kids that I know to watch KIDS and, therefore, involve themselves in that experience as viewers because Larry Clark is a viewer and that puts my kids side by side with him on his shiny couch. It’s like what health teachers tell you about having sex. You’re having sex with every person the person your having sex with has had. Anybody who watches KIDS is watching the peepshow with Larry Clark. He’s sitting right next to them, extending his warm bucket.
Most of the kids working or chilling left around four but left reminders of their presence: whiteboard doodles.
One kid doodled, “I’M SUPPER GAY AND I PROUD,” with an arrow pointing at my desk. I’m thinking of putting this slogan on a sign and carrying it in the next gay pride parade.
Another kid doodled an epic reptile.
My final student of the week had gone to use the bathroom and when she came back, she walked along a whiteboard that’s out of my line of vision, asking, “Did you see the diarrhea turtle?”
“What diarrhea turtle?” I asked.
I walked around my desk and went to look at this thing that she’d so deftly named.
On the other side of the off-white metal cabinet, a student, presumably, had drawn a gargantuan, bright green turtle with volcanic Hershey squirts horizontally geysering behind it. The explosions seemed powerful enough to propel this beast forward at quite a clip. The colorer had browned the diarrhea angrily, and the turtle could see this despite his visual impairment: he was wearing glasses. This was the part that made it for me, that this giant slowpoke with gastrointestinal difficulties still wants to see. And what he sees makes him smile.