April 04, 2017

John Waters

John Waters

Source: Wikimedia Commons

What did startle me was one of Waters”€™ offscreen talking points. In virtually every promotional interview, he’s said a variation on the following, regarding the scene in which the “€œWeatherman”€ and “€œLady Divine”€ (a criminal of apolitical persuasion) swap cop-killing anecdotes:

I look back on it now and think: “€œOh my God, all this stuff about killing cops”€”not even the most radical group would say anything like that today.”€ And you forget, in the “€™60s, “€œOff the pig”€ was a common slogan on a march, which is shocking today to look back on.

And in not one of these many interviews did anyone shoot back: “€œAre you still high? You live in FUCKING BALTIMORE!”€

You know: Freddie Gray. Riots. Black Lives Matter. “€œPigs in a blanket, fry “€™em like bacon.“€

In Charm City 2017, poor Tracy Turnblad wouldn”€™t end up dancing merrily with the black guys on the freshly integrated Corny Collins Show. Instead, they”€™d rape and kill her in an alley behind the studio. And no one would riot in her memory. After all, Baltimore averages a murder a day. Who can keep up?

I said earlier that Breitbart’s televised meeting with his hero was a disaster. It took place during the Tea Party’s ascendancy (which had been accompanied by the inevitable scatological response from the left), so Waters greeted him with “€œSo are you a Tea Bag top or bottom?”€ The audience dutifully howled.

But, well, it’s not really funny, is it? Neither is Waters”€™ quip that Milo Yiannopoulos is “€œjust the next Fred Phelps.”€ I”€™ll bet his famous mustache curdled when he mouthed that dumb, leaden line.

Yet those are the familiar sad, sputtering sounds liberals make when they”€™re trapped. Like all transgressive, avant garde blah blah blah progressives, Waters finds himself stuck in the very future he helped create”€”a reality show host for president!?!”€”but which is no longer under his control.

His apparent confusion about the real world extends even to one topic you”€™d think he”€™d be an expert on: political correctness.

He always insists perversely (and again, without journalistic pushback) that “€œall my movies are politically correct,”€ but then again, he clearly doesn”€™t understand the concept:

My philosophy is “€œDon”€™t judge other people until you know the whole story”€ and “€œMind your own business.”€ That’s politically correct. That’s a very democratic way of thinking.

Like the kids say today: I can”€™t even!

Don”€™t get me wrong. The world will always need a John Waters or two. But he was never one of my heroes, even though, through his books”€”which mostly (and entertainingly) catalog his “€œloves”€ and “€œhates”€”€”I learned about other artists I went on to revere, like Flannery O”€™Connor. For that I”€™m grateful.

Trying to track down a quote I didn”€™t end up using here, I came across another, in the revised edition of Crackpot, put out in 2003, fifteen years after the first. In a new introduction, Waters reevaluates some of his old passions, such as smoking. (He”€™d since quit.)

And after reading journalist Oriana Fallaci’s new book (“€˜The Rage and the Pride”€™), I think I hate her now rather than love her.

“€œHate”€ is such a strong word. But I think I know how he feels.


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