Chicken Hawk: Men Who Love Boys

Chicken Hawk: Men Who Love Boys (1994)

This film is about the North American Man / Boy Love Association (NAMBLA), so if you think a discussion of this topic will upset you, then please do not click through.

Director Adi Sideman's subjects are disturbing in their candour, and you can almost hear cable knit jumper wearing Leyland salivating as recounts current and former obsessions.

The men in this film maintain that the age of consent laws make them criminals for activities that were endorsed in the martial cultures of ancient Sparta and Samurai-era Japan, and they seek to normalize sexual relationships between adolescent boys and men. NAMBLA purports to be  a support group and legal resource for men who are attracted to boys, and their spokespeople in this film are very good at sticking to their talking points and citing relevant resources to support their arguments. However, Sideman neglects to give sufficient screen time to coherent counter arguments, and all we get in opposition to the NAMBLA discourse are vitriolic voice mail recordings and a bunch of wise guys sitting around a lunch counter threatening to strangle the dirty fanooks.

The version of this film I saw was very definitely ripped from VHS, with ugly tape artefacts, sound mixing issues and all, which somewhat added to the the tone. At one point the score was a tinkly piano piece which due to the crappy rerecording became distorted in speed and pitch; the camera was panning over some stills from the NAMBLA bulletin. Surreal.

Conversation starters

  • My goodness, that Leyland is creepy. And what was with that old lady he kept as a pet?
  • Did anyone else notice how they carefully arranged the paintings behind Rennato in his interviews?
  • In the Netherlands, a child between the ages of 12 and 16 can enter into a sexual relationship with an adult if they have the permission of their parents and a social worker.


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