Tuesday, 13 March 2007

A Dirty Shame

A Dirty Shame
I'm a John Waters fan. I love his hilarious autobiography Shock Value, his no-holds-barred early films such as Pink Flamingos, and even his mainstream yet outrageous later films. But I just don't get the joke in A Dirty Shame.

After a perceived shift into tamer, conventional cinema ever since Hairspray (which has now become a Broadway musical, with Waters, like Warhol and Dali, turning himself into a brand), A Dirty Shame represents a reversion to the transgressive themes of his earliest work. The action takes place in suburban Baltimore (the director's home town), where residents alternate between repression and nymphomania whenever they are concussed. The nymphos are led by Ray-Ray, a Christ-like figure with healing powers (remember L'Age d'Or, with Jesus as a libertine?).

Waters seems to think that, by simply including terms such as 'sploshing' in the dialogue, he is somehow creating a scandal. (Anyway, the grossest terms have already been defined in The Aristocrats.) When he was promoting the film, he gave countless interviews in which he discussed all the naughty new practices he discovered on the internet. But I don't buy his faux naivete, and I can't imagine why he considers name-checking these terms even remotely taboo-breaking or daring.

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