” (American Experience, 2005). All of these aspects of Kinseys life are important to understanding his own development, personal commitment to openness about sexual information and practice, and how he acted upon these beliefs, thus it would have been a disservice to the story if these elements had been altered by the filmmakers. Additionally, they are among the more fascinating, relatable and “marketable” parts of the story, so it is clear why they were retained intact by the filmmakers.
Many aspects of Kinseys life and work, however, appear to have been, if anything, toned down rather than amplified or sensationalized to sell movie tickets and DVDs. Kinseys “masochism” and his value-neutral approach to pedophiles was alluded to, but not given full air play in the movie. Kinsey reportedly experimented with many masochistic practices, inflicting pain on his body and genitals on multiple occasions (Flynn, 2004), much more so than the single episode shown in the movie of piercing his foreskin, shown as if it was done only once during a period of extreme duress.
Kinsey was shown having a single meeting with the character of Kenneth Braun in the movie (based on the man known as Rex King). During this meeting, Braun shares details of his meticulously documented sexual history, which includes hundreds of incidents of sex with minors/children, both boys and girls. This information is shown as sickening to Kinseys assistant, who leaves the interview, and Kinsey emphatically tells Braun that “No one should be forced to do anything against their will. No one should be hurt.” However, Kinsey maintained contact with Braun (or King) for many years, and even commended the man for his scientific data collection (Flynn, 2004). Additionally, Kinseys attitudes towards pedophilia and rape were considerably more tolerant and controversial (Flynn, 2004) than what is generally acceptable in society — both the society of Kinseys time, and in our modern times where the violation and long-term psychological damage done to victims of those events is now much better understood and documented. Depicting Kinseys pursuit of some of these more extreme aspects of human sexuality might have made the movie and the character of Kinsey far less palatable to the movies audiences.
With regard to Kinseys research methods, some questions have been raised at the time and over the years since. These controversies were not adequately addressed in the movie. For example, the movie alludes to statistical mistakes in Kinseys first book Sexual Behavior in the Human Male which he says he then corrected in his second Sexual Behavior in the Human Female. However, lingering concerns exist regarding Kinseys sampling techniques for his research, which include large numbers of prisoners and prostitutes. (American Experience 2005 & Flynn, 2004). However, perhaps the filmmakers chose to overlook these issues in light of the fact that subsequent researchers have re-analyzed Kinseys numbers with the more controversial subjects removed from the data pool, and come up with largely similar results (The Kinsey Institute, n.d.).
One concern that remains, however is the diversity (or lack of diversity) in Kinseys research sample. While the film displays a large map of the U.S. with a network of subjects distributed evenly, and prominently shows the faces of multiple races (e.g., African-American), in reality, Kinseys subjects were predominantly white and from the Eastern U.S. For example, he had nearly as many male subjects from the state of Pennsylvania as from the entire Western U.S. (Flynn, 2004).
Despite the digressions from fact that are made in the movie, many of the essentials of his life, work and the impact of Kinseys work are depicted with reasonable accuracy, if slightly slanted towards a more favorable portrayal of the movies hero.
Alfred Kinsey. (n.d.). Wikipedia. Retrieved 12 April 2010 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_Kinsey
American Experience: Kinsey, 27 January 2005. Retrieved 12 April 2010 from PBS website, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/kinsey
Flynn, Daniel (2004). Kinsey Myths Perpetuated in New Movie. Accuracy in Media. Retrieved from http://www.aim.org/guest-column/kinsey-myths-perpetuated-in-new-movie/
The Kinsey Institute (n.d.). Facts about Kinsey, the Film. Retrieved 12 April 2010 from http://www.kinseyinstitute.org/about/Movie-facts.html.