Tag Archives: john waters

Link Dump: #52

This week’s kitty is Dr. Paula Hutchison, wife of Filburt in the landmark Nickelodeon show Rocko’s Modern Life. Between marrying a turtle and having a hook for a hand, she’s certainly one of the more idiosyncratic kitties we’ve featured. We hope you had a nifty Thanksgiving if you celebrate it; now bear with us as we enter the snowy depths of winter. In the meantime, here’s a solid handful of links:

  • Greg “Sestosterone” Sestero, aka Johnny’s best friend, is writing a memoir about the making of The Room. We can only hope it’ll mention how his sex life is going.
  • Another John Waters interview: “I liked Santa but I would get confused as a child whether I was supposed to pray to him, or William Castle, or Jesus…”
  • The intrepid Craig of Dark Eye Socket revisits Catwoman and doesn’t like what he finds.
  • The slang of Depression-era America, via the movies.
  • Are the Teletubbies “Radical Utopian Fiction“?
  • Funny or Die presents the trailer for Drive-Thru.
  • You know how every few months there’s a new “scary thing that kids are doing!” nationwide phenomenon? Well, here’s a hilariously bad article on “drunken Gummi Bears and vodka-infused tampons“; it’s the most wishy-washy, over-the-tope, poorly written and sourced piece of garbage on a non-phenomenon I’ve ever read.

A couple mildly funny search terms this week. First, a Disney porno that never existed: “beautiful the beast vagina.” And second, the exotic and adventurous “journey into pussy.” What will that intrepid Internet user discover?

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Link Dump: #49

You know a horror cliché that I just love? When animals hiss at people who they just know are going to transform into monsters. Kitties, especially, seem to have a sixth kitty sense about these things. For example: the kitty above, hissing and clawing at Henry Hull just before he changes into Werewolf of London‘s titular lycanthrope. Keep at it, awesome kitty! And now, links:

  • The reliably excellent Roderick Heath of Ferdy on Films writes about MST3K’s Manos: The Hands of Fate episode.
  • Jonathan Rosenbaum objects to Pauline Kael’s Raising Kane while the New Yorker picks five essential Kael reviews.
  • Mark Harris names three stupid Oscar rules. (And when it comes to stupid, inconsistent, counterproductive Oscar rules, this is just the tip of the iceberg.)
  • If you want to read the text of the frivolous Drive lawsuit, you can do so here. It actually reads more like a bad essay out of Film History 101. Highlights include the following:

“Virtually no film critics described in any detail, if even mentioned, the allegorical nature of DRIVE, despite the importance of allegory in DRIVE. This is for inexplicable reasons.”

Well, we have a clear winner out of the past week’s search terms, and it’s “betty boops pussy on fire.” Yeahhh.

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Link Dump: #42

Aww, look, it’s one of the many kitties belonging to the Beales in the Maysles Bros. landmark documentary Grey Gardens! It’s so cute. I think it either wants dinner, or it wants to read this week’s set of links. Meow! And by the way, huge thanks to everyone who’s been joining in and publicizing the Juxtaposition Blogathon. It’s going down in about 2 1/2 weeks, so there’s still time if you want to juxtapose movies with us! And now, with that out of the way, our kitty-approved links:

Finally, the search terms are back in full force, and we’ve got some bizarre ones this week. Like “black cannibal pussy.” Like… what the fuck? I don’t know even know. I’m even more confused with “indisny poossy.” But perhaps the most confusing is “tigger mowing pubic hair.” The image is hilarious, I admit, but how does someone end up typing that series of words into Google? And finally: сатанисты. In case you didn’t know, that’s Russian for “satanists.” Hey, check it out, now you’re bilingual!

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Link Dump: #13

Inspired by today’s Kindertrauma Funhouse, the above picture comes from Roger Corman’s early black comedy A Bucket of Blood (1959), something of a companion piece to Little Shop of Horrors (1960). In it, Dick Miller plays Walter Paisley (a character he would play many more times), a busboy who wants to be a beatnik artist. He gets the chance when he accidentally stabs his landlady’s poor kitty, Frankie, and turns the corpse into a sculpture. What follows is Corman’s usual Faustian drama wrapped in dark humor, all filmed on recycled sets with a budget of pocket change. And yet another horror movie kitty bites the dust (or, I guess, bites the clay).

And now, to celebrate our lucky 13th Link Dump, I’ve got a ginormous parade of links that runs the gamut from depressing to hilarious to fascinating and back again. The Internet was pretty talkative this week, and now you get to reap the fruits of my copy-and-paste labor. Enjoy!

  • As you’ve probably heard, actor/comedian extraordinaire Leslie Nielsen died last Sunday at age 84. The Internet is full of remembrances; here are a few from Paracinema, My Life, at 24 Frames Per Second, True Classics, and Roger Ebert. Also, here are my own Twitter-bound reminiscences.
  • Here are two awesome LGBTQ lists: one of comic book characters and one of 2010 books.
  • Empire has a fun time-waster: a poster quiz featuring individual letters from movie posters. I got 16/46, including Showgirls. (Who could forget that typography?) What score can you get?
  • Over at Splitsider, former Simpsons writer/producer (and Mission Hill co-creator) has been writing about the Simpsons writing process; most recently, he’s done a detailed look at the evolution of “Sweet Seymour Skinner’s Baadasssss Song.”
  • The Criterion Collection! Female filmmakers!
  • Leo McCarey’s hard-to-find My Son John (1952) is on Netflix Instant! Let’s all go watch it, quick! [Thanks to the Self-Styled Siren for the tip-off.]
  • Artforum has 2010 Top 10 movie lists from John Waters and Mark Webber. The latter’s list is mostly avant-garde, while Waters’ is predictably wild and eclectic. Alas, out of all 20, I’ve only seen Dogtooth and Life During Wartime. Better get watching! (And more: Guardian film critic Peter Bradshaw’s best of 2010.)
  • From a Vanity Fair interview: Johnny Depp on his characters’ sexualities and his desire to play Hamlet.
  • Terence Malick’s making a movie immediately after The Tree of Life!! Has anyone checked to make sure this is the same Malick we’re talking about? His new project (potentially titled The Burial) will – according to the TheWrap.com article linked above – feature Rachel McAdams and Javier Bardem.
  • Hey, it’s that time again! Censorship Time! Thanks to the Catholic League and Speaker of the House John Boehner, a David Wojnarowicz video piece has been removed from an exhibit in the National Portrait Gallery. Don’t you just love the abuse of political power to supplant the artistic expression of a man who’s been dead since 1992? JESUS. (Literally – the piece was about Jesus.) [GLAAD has another article about the censorship.]
  • As a pick-me-up, how about some terrible but still funny typography jokes?
  • Matt Mazur of PopMatters wrote a long, in-depth essay on one of my favorite movies, The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant. I love it when people do that.
  • Speaking of long, in-depth essays on movies I love, Ed Howard at Only the Cinema has one on Edward Dmytryk’s disturbing, underrated film noir The Sniper! “Stop me. Find me and stop me. I’m going to do it again.” Arthur Franz is terrifying.
  • We all love Criterion’s gorgeous DVD cover designs, but some genius decided to make fake Criterion-style covers for movies like The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006) and Bio-Dome (1996). Delightful.
  • This just in! Sarah Dopp wants to make a marketplace for genderplayful clothing! It’s a super-cool idea, and you should totally show your support! Yeah!

We’re running tragically low on funny/weird search terms because of how WordPress has reformatted their system, but I still have some porntastic treats for you. For example, “the horny lady in the caravan” is a pretty enigmatic search, as is the horrendously spelled “sex pusy bleak girlls.” One of those four words is not like the others. (It’s “bleak.”) Someone sought out “xander berkeley + sexuality,” which I applaud. (Berkeley, for what it’s worth, is an underappreciated character actor in films, TV, and animation; he played insensitive husbands in two of my favorite films of the ’90s, Candyman and [Safe].) And finally, we had that old classic, “pussy om nom nom.” And a merry pussy om nom nom to you too, dear reader!

[Note from Ashley:  Andreas is no longer allowed to pick the pictures for the link dumps. He picks too many disturbing pictures of kitties and it upsets me greatly.]

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Filth, Fame, and Divine

I really really love John Waters’ Pink Flamingos (1972). It’s one of the most infamous cult movies of all time; it’s also hilarious, unrelentingly in-your-face, and endlessly enjoyable in the most tasteless ways. Hell, I love it so much that I wrote a 12-page paper on it a week ago called “Divine, Pink Flamingos, and the Politicized Body.” Therefore, I’d love to share with you what I learned from this paper. The fruits of my intellectual labor, if you will! And better yet, I’ll present them via a bulleted list, as my gift to you.

  • The mother: Within the film, Divine’s body is squeezed into a lot of roles. She’s a loving mother, a sexy starlet, and a mass murderer. The conflation of these gendered identities subverts them all, making for some pretty acrid social commentary. Babs Johnson’s brood is the American family run amok (complete with incest and chicken-fucking), and she’s an exaggerated, parodic portrayal of the ideal suburban homemaker – June Cleaver as a fat, foul-mouthed drag queen.
  • Sexualization: Divine (the character) isn’t just a mother; she’s also a horny gal raring for some action. Or as she puts it: “Why, I’m all dressed up and ready to fall in love!” She embraces a clichéd 1950s image of what attractive women are, and how they act, even if that image is self-evidently ridiculous. Like the film as a whole, she undercuts social norms by claiming as her own the lowest, tackiest, most degraded forms of cultural discourse.
  • The transgressive body: Early in Pink Flamingos, Divine buys a slab of meat and warms it up “in [her] own little oven” by holding it between her legs. Later, she barbecues the meat and serves it to her family for dinner. She’s the homemaking matriarch, but she also rubs food against her genitalia, licks furniture, and eats shit. The actions don’t suit the role, but Divine does them anyway.

  • Violence: As Michael Tinkcom points out in Working Like a Homosexual, John Waters totally anticipated the tabloid glamorization of criminals, and did it better than Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers (1994). Divine and her family are a pack of fugitives, “the filthiest people alive,” and this only compounds her sex appeal. As Pink Flamingos sees it, there’s no difference between pin-up and wanted posters. (Female Trouble delves even deeper into this – “I’m so fucking beautiful I can’t stand it myself!”)
  • Celebrity: Pink Flamingos is really about the cult of celebrity. In Divine, his cinematic muse, John Waters blends Jayne Mansfield with the Manson Family. (The film quotes a scene from the Mansfield vehicle The Girl Can’t Help It [1956], and it’s dedicated to “Sadie, Katie, and Les,” three of the Manson girls.) By mixing sex, violence, and press coverage, Waters is essentially writing a love (or poison pen?) letter to postwar mass culture. (Also, for what it’s worth, I think Divine might be the Lady Gaga of the 1970s.)

So there you have it! It’s my reading of Pink Flamingos in just a few bite-sized pieces. It was a little more complicated than that, but you get the general idea. I talked about Rachel Adams’ Sideshow U.S.A., especially her take on Zoe Leonard’s photographs of bearded lady Jennifer Miller; also, I included this very vital quote from Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble:

The replication of heterosexual constructs in non-heterosexual frames brings into relief the utterly constructed status of the so-called heterosexual original. Thus, gay is to straight not as copy is to original, but, rather, as copy is to copy. The parodic repetition of ‘the original,’… reveals the original to be nothing other than a parody of the idea of the natural and the original.

So remember that the next time you have to write an academic essay about drag! Finally, I noticed a great visual tidbit in the entryway to the Marbles’ house in Pink Flamingos.

Yes, that’s right: next to that poster for Joseph Losey’s campfest Boom! (1968) is an Andy Warhol print of Elizabeth Taylor. Since I had recently written a paper on Sixteen Jackies (1964), I was very cued into Warhol and his ties to celebrity culture, mass production, and drag. Like Pink Flamingos, Warhol’s work frequently links consumer culture with death, albeit in subtler, less over-the-top ways. More importantly, the grids of near-identical faces in his many series of celebrity prints (like those of Liz, Jackie, and Marilyn) resonate with the ways that Divine imperfectly embodies the personas June Cleaver, Jayne Mansfield, and Charlie Manson.

My ideas about Waters vis-à-vis Warhol aren’t fully fleshed out quite yet, but there’s a start. After finishing this project, I adore Pink Flamingos more than ever, from Ms. Edie’s demented, egg-centric babbling to Connie Marble’s intense bitchiness (“my kind of people, and assholes!”) to, of course, the divine Divine. A final note: If you want to learn more about drag, Divine, Warhol, and everything else, I highly recommend Marjorie Garber’s indispensable and entertaining Vested Interests. It’s a fantastic book.

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Link Dump: #7

Damn, life in 1930s Connecticut was swanky. Look at that dress! It’s really perfect leopard-petting apparel. Here’s some links I gathered over the past week that could come in handy if you need to go “gay all of a sudden“:

  • From the “Last Year’s News” department, I just read this 7-month-old article by Paul Tatara bitching about Avatar and eulogizing Eric Rohmer. I wouldn’t link to it, but it’s so insightful, well-written, and bittersweet that I couldn’t help it. Besides, it contains a still from Claire’s Knee.
  • Say it ain’t so, PTA! The Master, the latest project from the genius/director of Magnolia and There Will Be Blood, has been indefinitely suspended. And it would’ve starred Philip Seymour Hoffman, too!
  • Shanna Katz writes in “No, I’m NOT Her Roomate” about heteronormativity and fuckers who refuse to acknowledge queer relationships as legitimate.
  • Static Nonsense at Some Assembly Required talks about sexuality and OCD, touching on some problems with the word “bisexual.”
  • Jezebel has the scoop on what’s next for DADT. Maybe soon the answer can firmly be “repeal”? Eh, Obama administration?
  • Dan Savage has started the beautiful It Gets Better project on YouTube to help gay teenagers. It’s really inspiring; go watch some of the videos. (Happy Bodies talks about It Gets Better as well.)
  • Big Think has a 20-minute interview with John Waters about filth, art, his new book Role Models, Salò, and more! The man is an indisputable genius and you need to watch this whole thing. Right now.
  • From the 13th issue of Rouge, a film magazine, published in March ’09, here’s an essay entitled “The Secret Life of Objects” by Mark Rappaport. It’s lengthy, but very rewarding, as it addresses Hollywood studios’ reuses of certain sets, paintings, and statues across the films of the 1940s and ’50s. Give it a read.
  • You know what’s freaking aweso.me? Freaking Aweso.me’s “ridiculous detailed” zombie poster. It’s a rotting hand and it’s got the names of almost 1,000 zombie movies/books/video games and you can zoom in to read it closer online. All I can say is, “BRAAAINS!”

This was a disappointing week in search terms, but we did get some wacky pussy-related entries. Like that immortal question, “woman puts dog food in pussy why”? Why indeed. Or another timeless riddle: what is the “sound made by pussy when fucking”? Forsooth, learned men have been pondering the sound of one pussy fucking for eons now. Someone wonders, “do you see princess mononoke’s pussy”? I reply: 1) her name’s not actually “Princess Mononoke,” but San and 2) NO, YOU DON’T! Duh. Next: “pregnant open pussy and baby can be seen.” Ummm. Yeah. And finally, “the old testament the book of smut.” I do not believe the Old Testament contains such a book. But I could be wrong.

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But it’s always been that way!

So, we got out of class 20 minutes early today, and even if I have the sword-of-Damocles of responsibility hanging over my head (damn writing portfolios), I wanted to write a blog. About what, you may ask? I’m not sure. But it usually comes. And if it doesn’t, I just give up and go home. Except I am home. Or am I? I’ve long been confused about this vague, dubiously meaningful concept of “home.” You know, “There’s no place like home.” Be it ever so humble. Humble abode. A house is not a home? Or, as we learned in my melodrama class, home is the “space of innocence” in which melodramas (like, archetypically, D.W. Griffith’s Way Down East) begin. I randomly just thought of Jules Dassin’s great film noir Thieves’ Highway, which begins with the hero (Richard Conte) coming back from WWII. He finally reenters his home, starts doling out gifts to his parents and girlfriend, when all of a sudden it’s revealed: his father has no legs. This leads back to an incident involving an unscrupulous fruit merchant, motivating the revenge that dominates the rest of the film. But the point is that he comes back home, attempting to “Return to Normalcy” as Warren G. Harding would’ve put it, and finds that something is very much rotten in the state of California.

This is a common plot device (which has its own trope, Doomed Hometown) that basically feeds on the desire for everything to be good, normal, and how it used to be. When the hero comes back from the war, he expects to find his family just as happy and his hometown just as idyllic as it was when he was little. We certainly get a strong dose of this in that quintessential melodrama Gone with the Wind: what example in American history is as obvious as the Atlantan aristocrats who endure the Civil War only to see their old, beloved plantation and way of life literally burned to the ground by Union soldiers, just as certainly as the stormtroopers burned Uncle Owen’s moisture plantation in Star Wars, or the image that inspired that, the burning of the family house by Indians at the beginning of The Searchers. In these latter two examples, the destruction of the home serves a dual purpose, in that it both motivates revenge (setting in motion the hero’s journey) and makes it so there’s nowhere for the hero to come back to anyway, so he has to seek out the wrongdoers and make them pay.

So, the home. It’s a strange idea. What is home? The place that little bastard E.T. phones? Where the heart is? What the fuck is “the heart,” anyway? Sometimes I just hate tedious little adages like that. “Home is where the heart is.” Well, thank you! That’s so specific and meaningful! It’s not just repeating an old grouping of words with about as much magic power and insight into the human condition as “abracadabra.” I hate it when people just spout bullshit because people have said it before them. I say this over and over again: I can think of few reasons to do something worse than “people have done it before”! You know, committing murder has a long tradition in the human race. Does that make it a real valid course of action? Racism was law in America for 400 years. Does that make it a great way to live your life? In the 16th century, the Catholic Church condemned a heliocentric view of the universe. Is it therefore inappropriate to teach in schools? My point is, tradition can have its good points, but tradition is never good just because it’s tradition.

Another example: Ashley recently told me how at a wedding she attended, they celebrated a tradition where apparently the bride and groom each cut off a piece of the wedding cake and smash it in each other’s faces. And I spent about the next five minutes shaking my head in disbelief, going, “What the fuck is that? Why? Why? Why would you ever consent to doing something that deeply stupid?” So from the sounds of it, there’s a lot of idiotic traditions revolving around marriage. You have to do this, you have to do that. Why? Because people have done it before! And OK, some traditions, if they’re remotely meaningful or cute or whatever, I can appreciate. Doing moronic bullshit just because you’re supposed to is something I despise. I mean, what’s going to happen if you don’t follow all the stupid traditions? Maybe someone will get all upset and confused and go, “No, you have to do the cake-smashing thing, because that’s how it’s always been done! Intelligence be damned!” Maybe they’ll protest along lines that are frighteningly similar to the reasoning used by the village elders in “The Lottery.” Maybe, little did we know, but those stupid traditions were in fact holding together the fabric of the universe, and since you failed to do them, the sky is going to come apart at the seams. But I think it’s worth the risk. Seriously, it’s like people let their ceremonies be guided by a kind of collective OCD.

I think this also connects back to a basic tension underlying a lot of human behavior, beliefs, and also fiction: old vs. new. And not just that; to elaborate, people like novelty. It makes little chemicals fire in the brain and they go, “Oooohhh…” But change is scary, and people also like it when things stay the same. So when you try to suggest something new or different, even if it’s useful and good, they’ll fight back with all they’ve got because it makes them uncomfortable. (After all, “there’s a storm gathering.”) So what do these two ideas mean together? That, I think, human beings are a bunch of fucked-up little monkeys with inherently dysfunctional brains. Of course, it’s more complicated than that. But I’m sleepy and have to leave for class in 10 minutes, so pardon me if I cut some corners.

Let’s see, any other thoughts been percolating up in this ol’ head of mine? Well, I did want to write something about Edith Massey, one of John Waters’ Dreamlanders, just because she’s so fucking awesome. I’ve been watching and rewatching a clip from Pink Flamingos for my final project in digital storytelling, and every single time I hear her say how she’s going to eat her eggie-weggies before she goes sleepy, I just crack up (pun apparently intended). Massey is really just one of a kind. Here’s a sample of her unique acting genius:

Apparently in Female Trouble, she dresses like a dominatrix. I’m not overstating it when I say I have to see that movie. Also, I have a copy of Massey singing “Big Girls Don’t Cry” with her novelty/punk band, Edie and the Eggs. Words escape me. The world clearly needs more actresses like Massey. (Incidentally, though she died 25 years ago, you can read about her and her band, and listen to her music, here.)

And now I’d best be off to class where we’ll discuss Kon Ichikawa’s The Makioka Sisters (1983). Enjoy your day.

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