Film Analysis: The People vs. Larry Flynt

Topics: Larry Flynt, First Amendment to the United States Constitution, Censorship Pages: 11 (1811 words) Published: November 16, 2005
Larry Flynt, an infamous photographer and free-speech activist, has brought

about controversy in the film, "The People v. Larry Flynt". The movie functions as a

general biography, but it focuses on legal issues to a large degree.

Flynt, the editor of Hustler magazine, publicized pornographic obscenities in

many ways. By doing so, he has challenged the First Amendment and the Charter's

guarantee of the right to free expression.

Larry at first glance seems like an odd figure for a hero. He is outspoken,

opinionated, and perverted. If there is one word to sum him up it would be, unapologetic.

In "The People v. Larry Flynt", Flynt stood up for his rights, never quit, and never

apologized for what he did.

Flynt started out as a strip joint owner with his younger brother Jimmy. He was

not making any money, so he decided to advertise his dancers in a pictorial magazine.

Eventually Larry gets an offer to publish nude shots taken of someone famous, Jacqueline

Kennedy Onassis.

He decides that this is his big break and decides to do so. This eventually brings

his magazine into the public eye. Flynt gets arrested for this, because it is an alleged

violation of community standards.
In 1976, Flynt was arrested on charges of obscenity and organized crime. The

disputed notion in the trial became the method by which to judge whether something

is seen as obscene or not. Flynt's initial loss in which he was given a jail sentence,

suggested that individual communities had the right to define what is obscene and thus be

able to control what is sold in stores.

Larry hires a lawyer when he learns he is being taken to court. He ends up with

Alan Isaacman, a young lawyer who defends him from the beginning to his most famous

case. The primary case involving Reverend Jerry Falwell, who is suing Flynt for

defaming him in one of Hustlers' ads.

After Flynt was released on bail, he stated "we're the strongest country in the

world today because we are the freest." He declared that his way of being free, lays in his

pornographic magazine.

Flynt tries to show a point about the communities' view of obscenity. "What is

more obscene, sex or war?" In the movie, Flynt explains that murder is illegal, but if

you take pictures of it, you'll be put in a magazine. However sex is legal and if you take

pictures of it you can go to jail. Flynt wins after this appeal, but his battles have just


Though Flynt's many appearances in court seemed much like a circus, he was

truly testing the outer limits of the liberties we enjoy. He challenged the First

Amendment, Section 2 of the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, and the issue of


The First Amendment states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an

establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the

freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to

petition the government for a redress of grievances." (First Amendment) This is quite

similar to Section 2b of the Charter which guarantees that "everyone has the right to

freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and

other media of communication."(The Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms)

These two rights led to Flynt's success in the case involving Reverend Jerry


Larry published a mock advertisement, according to which Falwell's "first time",

was in an outhouse with his mother. Falwell sued Hustler and Flynt for libel, invasion of

privacy, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The court dismissed the invasion

of privacy claim because Falwell is a public figure. Hustler was found guilty of inflicting

emotional distress and Falwell was awarded a sum of money. The court ruled against

Falwell on the claim of libel.

The lower...
Continue Reading

Please join StudyMode to read the full document

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • People vs. Larry Flynt Essay
  • Essay about Film Analysis
  • Ordinary People Film Analysis Research Paper
  • Essay about Deaf People Film Analysis
  • Film Analysis: The Homeless People Essay
  • Falwell vs. Flynt by Smolla Essay
  • Dear White People Film Analysis Essay
  • Film Analysis Essay

Become a StudyMode Member

Sign Up - It's Free