Virginia Film Festival: The People Vs. Larry Flynt

Posted on November 5, 2011 by


The man. The legend. The free-speech activist. Larry Flynt. We all know him. Some may also know the film, starring Woody Harrelson, Courtney Love, and Edward Norton, from 1996 – a hilarious film about the controversial, provocative and rambunctious figure. A colorful, outrageous, controversial life? You bet.

people vs larry flyntPresented by The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression, Larry Flynt himself – complete with gold wheelchair, body guards, and biting sarcasm – came to Charlottesville, with his new book, One Nation Under Sex, in tow. A great gift for the kids? Maybe, maybe not.

The packed house was silent awaiting Flynt to come on stage, and silent still in listening to him speak. But more than once, Flynt had the entire audience applauding and laughing, some standing and cheering.

larry flynt

In response to the movie, Flynt joked that “Woody plays me better than I play myself,” and that 15 years after the movie, there is still a cult following. And in response to the infamous Jerry Falwell v. Larry Flynt case, seen in the movie – “I did become friends with Falwell after I trashed him good.” However, this case changed forever the role of satire in the political and social sphere, and most importantly, in publishing.

closing remarks - flynt

In closing words, Flynt stated a profound remark, standing out from the sarcasm and jokes: “Hypocrisy is the greatest threat democracy has.” Said by a man who has dedicated his life to protecting free speech, and in turn, calling out the hypocrites.

As a belated birthday gift, the TJ Center played a short film of our free speech wall on the downtown mall – a time-lapse of a local artist chalk-drawing Larry Flynt.

free speech wall

Larry Flynt - Free Speech Wall, Downtown