The People versus Larry Flynt

The People versus Larry Flynt (1996) is an entrepreneurship movie, but it not a movie for everybody. This movie is the story of Larry Flynt, an ambitious, hard-working, driven self-made entrepreneur. He (with his wife and brother) started publishing a girlie magazine that challenged society’s moral values. This magazine- Hustler- becomes the success story the Flynts were dreaming of. Even though he has to fight numerous legal battles with people who were opposed to his business, he was able to assert his constitutional right to continue publishing his magazine. The movie is a fictional account of the life of a real-world financially successfully entrepreneur.

Because the movie is about an entrepreneur who acheived his success in the pornographic publishing industry, it is full of nudity and sex. Despite doing a great job of presenting the struggle between an upstart entrepreneur and the establishment, this is not a movie you can watch with your family or relatives. I personally think the movie could have presented Larry Flynt’s story without so many nude and explicit scenes.  

The U.S. (as well as many other countries around the world) have many entrepreneurs like Larry Flynt (Hugh Hefner, Joe Francis etc.) whose success comes from exploring the dark side of the business world. The stories of these entrepreneurs as well as the fascination with them in the media and the public make them great examples to discuss the ethical side of entrepreneurship.

I enjoyed the entrepreneurial theme of the movie, but had a very tough time making a positive decision to include it in my entrepreneurship course as one of the choices (and I tell them about the nudity and explicit scenes so they can make an informed decision). I am curious to see what my students think about it.      

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8 responses to “The People versus Larry Flynt

  1. I thought the movie The People vs. Larry Flynt was clearly related to entrepreneurship and was quite interesting as well. It not only showed the concept of persistency but it also showed several others as well.

    I learned how important family is to the survival/failure of your business. This was shown when Larry’s brother basically took over operations while Larry was in and out of jail, etc. Then when Larry returned toward the end, he truly showed appreciation for his brother even though he tried telling him and all the other employees they were fired earlier in the movie. I also learned that you have to truly be passionate and willing to do anything to keep your business alive.

    Larry demonstrated this consistently throughout the movie and it was clearly vital to the survival of Hustler. Overall, I enjoyed the movie and felt it was a great tie to entrepreneurship as well as other life lessons too.

  2. When I watched the movie The People versus Larry Flynt, I was reminded of the concept of Begin with the End in Mind from my Organizational Behavior course. This is the idea that all people must start every day with their ultimate goal in mind. It is dedicating oneself to what one wants to accomplish. A person should always perform tasks that will help in reaching this goal and not waste time on activities that cannot move a person towards the achievement desired.
    The concept of Begin with the End in Mind was demonstrated throughout the movie. Larry Flynt never backed down from the goal he was working towards. Specifically, this was depicted in the many scenes in which he acted out of line in the courtroom. His repeated outbursts and direct defiance of the judge represented what he wanted to say. He was never going to give in to the judge or even his lawyer on any charges. In his eyes, that would be admitting defeat and his dream would never be fulfilled. Even when these outbursts led to jail time and more jail time, he was determined to stand up for himself no matter what lengths he had to travel. This is critical to entrepreneurship because it represents that determination to achieve cannot be stopped. There are ways to survive the devastating times. Just focus on what needs to be done to recover and do it. Do not question one’s own actions. Keep in mind the goal one is striving to achieve.
    I learned, from this movie, that businesses are not safe from persecution, especially if it is not widely accepted in the first place. Obstacles will be set in place on purpose in an attempt to add to the struggle. Another thing I learned from this movie is that perception is everything. The way others look at a business leader may be contradictory to the way they look at themselves. Personality and lifestyle, among other factors, is commonly perceived in a way that can distort the message. One must learn to deal with this idea, but do not back down from challenges of one’s ideas.

  3. When I watched the movie “The People vs. Larry Flint,” I was reminded of the concepts of being persistent and being immortal. Larry was a immortal persistent entrepreneur. Many people hated him because of how immoral his business was, but he stayed persistent in making the business thrive and winning a court case against a preacher, a case for the first amendment rights. I learned that there are many people out there that might hate your business, but try to ignore them and stay persistent.

  4. abusinessprofessor

    We usually talk about U.S. entrepreneurs in class. I just came across a NYT article from March 8, 2008 (Paul Raymond, 82, Dies; Built an Erotic Empire) about a British entrepreneur Paul Raymond who built the largest erotic empire in England. The following paragraphs are from the NYT article

    “Born in 1925 as Geoffrey Anthony Quinn, a name he changed in 1947, Mr. Raymond grew up in Liverpool, the son of a successful haulage contractor. He left school at 15 and had his first experience of show business as a mind reader and clairvoyant. He developed his interest in the commercial exploitation of sex when the manager of a theater where he performed said he would hire him only if his two female assistants appeared seminaked on the stage.

    Shy and stammering as a boy, Mr. Raymond adopted a flamboyant style in his Soho heyday, favoring lustrous fur coats, trendy long hair and a gold-plated Rolls-Royce, as well as a Wimbledon mansion and a longtime companion, Fiona Richmond, who was one of Britain’s best known pornographic models.

    He “began his entrepreneurial life selling black-market nylons and fuel coupons from a market stall during World War II and went on to become one of Britain’s richest men, overseeing an empire of Soho striptease clubs, salacious magazines and real estate holdings… In its annual “rich list” in 2007, The Sunday Times estimated his fortune at £650 million, about $1.3 billion.”

    He “was credited, or disparaged, for taking sex out of the dark corners of British life in the postwar era and turning it into highly profitable entertainment with his London clubs and glossy nude magazines.”

    When he died earlier this year, “many celebrated him as having helped liberate Britain from stuffy Victorian attitudes about sex and “ancient pruderies and restrictive laws,” as an obituary in The Guardian put it.”

  5. I felt that the movie, The People vs. Larry Flynt, show a very interesting and entertaining view of entrepreneurship. Larry started a very racy publication that he knew would not be liked by everyone, but also knew that there would be those who liked it. The magazine started with the idea of printing a newsletter to promote his business, but evolved into a magazine. He used the idea of Playboy to start his publication. He asked his friends/employees if they read Playboy. Many of them said that they did. He then asked about some specific articles in the magazine. Not a single one of them read the articles. He decided to print a magazine that gave the “readers” what they wanted….not much to read, but certainly a lot to look at. He was very passionate about his stance of keeping the magazine in publication, and using his First Amendment right. He took this passion and belief all the way to the Supreme Court. Larry Flynt lived a lifestyle that you don’t see or hear about a lot of very successful entrepreneurs living, but his lifestyle did not interfere with his passion and success.

  6. I thought the the movie “The people vs. Larry Flynt” was quite entertaining. I actually did not even know what it was about when I put it into my DVD player. I was surprised to find that it was about the magazine hustler. The movie definately shows a different side of entrepreneurship than what I am used to observing in class, but yet was very applicable to the concept. Woody Harrelson portrayed the necessary traits necessary to become a successful entrepreneur. He had his vision of what he wanted the company to be, and after almost losing it at one point, stuck to that vision and in the end the magazine was a success. As far as the movie itself, I found it to be interesting because I never really knew the story behind the publication itself. Overall I thought that the movie was good, and I thought that it had strong ties to entrepreneurship.

  7. billwickes0420

    The people vs. Larry Flint can be summarized in two words: Dirty money. Even though Larry was a scum bag who was running a strip joint, he saw an opportunity to challenge Playboy in the market place with a different type of magazine, one which was far more revealing and dirtier.
    This movie was good for an entrepreneur’s point of view only for the purpose of showing there a many ways to make millions, and you have to love what you’re getting into. He had a dream to become rich and that’s what he did – he was just tryin to make a honest buck

  8. Meghan Behrens

    The People versus Larry Flynt was a good movie to watch for this course besides some of the things that it contained. It was a great example of an entrepreneurship because Larry Flynt did something that no one thought of and he also created something that many people didn’t agree with. Yet the magazine that he created still became one of the most well-known magazines in the world. I think that it was something that people were interested in but just did not want to believe that it was because it had things in it that no one every had the guts to show.

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