Besides John Waters’s many virtues as a filmmaker, commentator, cultural archivist, and so on, he’s also an excellent writer and teacher. His 1981 book "Shock Value," which traces his life through film, up to and including Desperate Living, is an invaluable education in how to write, direct and make films, inside and out. He didn’t create such a body of work without being a smart and driven man, and gratefully he shares his hard-earned knowledge with us. If you want to learn more about filmmaking or if you just want a great laugh-out-loud read about a simpler time, I heartily recommend "Shock Value" by the Birthday Boy!
I bring this up, however, because of how he ends the book’s final chapter, “Do You Have Parents?” (which he claims is his most frequently asked question). In the final sentences, Waters defends his films and their questionable content:
At least I’ve never done anything really decadent, like waste millions of dollars of other people’s money and come up with movies as stupid as The Deep or 1941. The budgets of my films could hardly feed the starving children of India.As sensible defense if there ever was one.
In 1988, he did an abridged book-on-tape version and gratefully updated it for the 80s:
So, as we celebrate the living legend today, I ask: If John Waters wrote that book today, what films would he cite as being “stupid”? (Bonus points if you pick films with titles that would sound particularly snarky coming out of his mouth!)