The Science of Sex and “Kinsey”, in The Hamptons
by Brian Brooks
The Hamptons International Film Festival was fully underway Thursday following the opening night film “Kinsey,” which kicked off the event at two screenings in East Hampton, NY Wednesday, followed by a party in Montauk. Yesterday afternoon, Director Bill Condon joined a group of panelists including Kinsey Institute director Dr. Julia Heiman, distinguished sociology professor Dr. Ed Laumann, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation program director Doron Weber, and indieWIRE editor-in-chief Eugene Hernandez who moderated a discussion focusing about the film and the state of research exploring human sexuality.
Heiman pointed out during the discussion that many of the biographies about Dr. Kinsey, who rose to fame in 1948 with the publication of his book “Sexual Behavior in the Human Male,” differed wildly, with some who opposed his research concentrating on his perceived shortcomings. Laumann, who studies human sexuality today, commented that he felt the film was “pretty accurate” and recalled the fallout after the book’s release, saying that the same sentiment exists to this day, affecting his own work in the field.
“I have the distinguished [misfortune] to have had an act of Congress occur over my studies,” Laumann said about a Congressional controversy over whether the word “sex” should be used in the publication of his sexual study with government backing. Former North Carolina senator Jesse Helms had sponsored legislation to stop such a survey.
For his part, Condon expressed anxiety regarding the potential controversy that could come with the release of the film. “There’s good and bad controversies,” Condon told the audience gathered at the festival. The director used an example of a woman opposing the movie who had seen only ten minutes of the film and challenged it, charging that the film included “gross inaccuracies.” Other groups, according Condon, have embraced Kisney’s work as supportive of their cause.
“Kinsey was a catalyst for the gay movement,” said Condon, “But that was ironic because he did not believe in sexual identity.” Mr. Condon also made reference to the “Kinsey scale,” which argues that most people fall somewhere between complete heterosexuality or complete homosexuality (on a scale of 0 to 6), and that most people only identify with one or the other based on cultural and societal pressures.
“Kinsey,” a Fox Searchlight release, opens on four screens November 12, and the Hamptons International Film Festival continues through Sunday on the east end of Long Island.