The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

20 December 2004

Now playing

Kinsey is playing in town (at the AMC Quail Springs), which will undoubtedly surprise some folks. I'm a bit amazed myself. And whereas this is normally my cue to run right out and see the darn thing while I still can, I admit to some qualms about the whole premise, and not necessarily the most obvious ones either: Alfred Kinsey may indeed have been something of a perv, and I have no particular reason to doubt that his research and his jollies were occasionally commingled, but what bugs me about this particular enterprise is the bland assumption by some of our cultural arbiters that Alfred Kinsey was some kind of trailblazer, leading us out of the sexual backwaters into the sunshine of polymorphous perversity.

Borrowing Fametracker's Fame Barometer premise, I'd rank Dr Kinsey alongside, oh, Gabriel Fahrenheit, remembered today for his temperature scale. Kinsey's own scale, which attempted to measure one's degree of homosexuality, is useful as a form of shorthand, less useful as a psychological profile. Still, the zero-to-six continuum is probably the one product of Kinsey's research that has much of a chance of holding up as research: many of the ideas Kinsey promoted were second-hand (Freud and Krafft-Ebing generally were there first). What's more, Bruce Thornton suggests that Kinsey was the beneficiary of fortuitous timing:

Kinsey's success at becoming a media sensation occurred because the culture was ready for such a message, particularly in the flush triumphalism of the post-war years, when everybody was in the mood for cutting loose and enjoying the new freedom created by the war. Kinsey simply gave a patina of science to a message many Americans were already primed to hear.

I'm not buying the notion that Alfred Kinsey is responsible for all of the ills of society up to and including the heartbreak of psoriasis, as some would have us believe; to me, he's just another name in the history books with more footnotes than he probably deserves. Call me when Kevin Bacon stars in Fahrenheit! The Heat Is On.

(Inspired by, and with thanks to, Cassandra of Villainous Company, who disavows any knowledge of this screed.)

Posted at 3:29 PM to Almost Yogurt

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» Dec. 21, 2004 [A load-o-links special edition] from Read My Lips - the blog
Well, here we go again with a nice set of links to point out those nuggets of wisdom and gems of humor that I have found here and there through my blog surfin' adventures. All links open in new windows,......[read more]
Tracked: December 21, 2004 07:49 PM