Weird moment on the subway today when I heard two young people, a boy and girl both around 19, discussing the movie Kids (1995, dir. Larry Clark). The boy had seen it and the girl hadn't. "It's about teenagers in New York in the nineties," he said. "It's just really interesting because there's so much going on: drugs, AIDS, social hierarchy..." She seemed impressed. Earlier, I had been to the registrar at NYU to get them to send one of my transcripts to a place where I'm applying for a job. Naturally, that reminded me of when I was in college, which was 1995 through 1999.
I saw Kids in the theatre the summer before my freshman year began; by the time I started classes at Tisch everyone there was abuzz about screenwriter/filmmaker Harmony Korine, who'd come out of my program and was its most recent success story. I didn't like the movie at all -- to me it felt false and alarmist and exploitative. I used to remark that there'd be a time when Kids would be to the '90s what Saturday Night Fever was to the '70s: perceived as kitschy and shallow. It's weird to me, then, that this boy (who I can assume grew up in New York City, the way I did) likes it. It's weird also because when I was a kid and the film was coming out I wanted to like it. It was supposed to be about me and my friends. But no, the people in it were just bad and soulless and had no love for each other and nobody was likeable, it was just drugs and sex and having a depressing orgy at the public swimming pool. Luckily I didn't have many friends like that, I guess, or perhaps I was just being defensive: "That's not how it really is!"
The prevailing feeling I come away with is not bitterness, though, it's nostalgia. We talked about this film's place in history, back when we were film-school pups, and now it is history. Just like so many things.