Korine’s director, Larry Clark, famously said they were trying, with Kids, to “make the Great American Teenage Movie, like the Great American Novel.” They succeeded, in the sense that the film’s absent moral arc leaves it open to infinite interpretation. Whether that was by design or not (plenty of people think Korine is a hack; his 2013 Spring Breakers, an updated nod to Kids, was as polarizing as the film that put him on the map), it’s the film’s legacy. You get out of Kids what you put in. It’s your anxiety, your disgust, your perverse excitement that gives the movie its lasting strength.
So! For me, a 21-year-old with an undiagnosed clinical depression who had, until 90 minutes earlier, been absolutely intent on moving to NYC, the experience was sorta like drowning in a pool while my friends & family sat on the edge, obliviously sipping lemonade. In a life of relative privilege & comfort, it was undoubtedly my scariest moment at the time.
For hours, I wrestled with the fact that I’d have to give up on my plans before I even began. I had a job offer in Denver (not writing), and even though I had no interest -- in the job, or in Colorado generally -- I was crushed with the overwhelming sense that I had to take it. New York was no option. It's not what I thought it was. My dream of moving to the city, writing, becoming Relevant and Famous and Not-Boring... the movie took a brick to all that. That only made the despair seem more decisive. I cannot move to New York. I can't. I was stuck on the futon, and my own projections on Kids put me there.