The film Kids takes place in the Manhattan - the concrete jungle; a city inhabited by different types of people from all across the world, all trying to conquer both social and personal goals. Rapid socialization and interaction take place between these people, creating diverse social groups and bringing a myriad of varying behaviors to the streets of the city. Kids reveals the lives of adolescents raised in an urban background, capturing the multitude of values and behaviors that rise from the city’s vibrant and dynamic culture.
The film focuses on the undertakings of several inner city teenagers in the 1990s who find pleasure in impulsive yet destructive behavior in the company of close friends. Kids does not follow a particular storyline; rather it depicts the lives of a group of inner-city teenagers and their erratic tendencies in their struggle to discover their personal identities. The progression of the film follows two parallel characters, Telly and Jennie, as they continue through their days. Telly, a fairly laid-back individual, struggles to make his day as interesting as possible, while Jennie, one of Telly’s many sexual partners, gets tested positively for HIV and tries to find and inform Telly about her situation. The film reflects many of the activities teenagers did in their daily lives, such as socializing and experimenting with substances and sex, which led to common social and health related problems such as crime, date rape and sexually transmitted diseases.
Kids is representative of several sociological themes, such as how social stratification plays an important role in determining the behaviors of individuals stemming from different cultures and how these individuals interact with one another. Ethnicity, economic background, employment status and the ability to afford basic necessities are vital elements that determine where a certain individual or their family might live and work, which in turn would modify their behavior. Areas of high urbanization generally consist of people from various economic and cultural backgrounds, separated into neighborhoods widely based on socioeconomic factors.
The film portrays these elements through subtle, yet distinct mediums; the main characters presumably belong to the lower-middle class, though there is little dialogue proving their economic statuses. Several scenes in Kids express the characters’ social strata through the film’s settings, explaining their behaviors and their subsequent actions.
One scene brings Telly to his apartment, asking his stay-at-home mother for money after deceiving her – saying he was out looking for work, while in reality he was out with his friends. She is seen breastfeeding an infant, smoking a cigarette and watching a black and white television. She responds, telling him that his father made her promise not to give him any money unless he finds a job, adding on that “[she] doesn’t have any money to [her] name.” Though they seem to have enough money to afford luxuries like television and a home near their workplace, their living situation may cause them financial and family-related stress. Telly’s mother’s actions provide insight on how lower-middle class citizens living in the city may resort to behaviors such as smoking and staying at home for a child to help cope with these burdens. Telly’s father is not present in this scene, indicating that he is most likely working in order to support his family. This family’s behavior is characteristic of a fairly modern type of American family structure: a nuclear family consisting of “a male breadwinner, a female housewife and their children” (Stacy, 1996 [Conley, 433]), which is an efficient model in societies that define work and productivity as success such as Post-Industrial Revolution America.
Telly’s parents’ busy lives allow him to roam freely around the city with his friends, who most likely have similar family structures since they live in similar