Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mr. Waters

Stephen here, from Peel Slowly. Today we celebrate the birthday of an American treasure.

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!)


debbie koenig said...

Oh that's easy: Avatar.

chris na Taraja said...

Love John Waters and that fabulous quote! But why is he wearing Bjorks dress in that picture!?

Janice said...

Australia. (Debbie's pick is a good choice, but at least I got a shred of enjoyment out of it at the time.) At least Baz had some talent, or did, but then he completely squandered it and all the resources at hand. Resources that could have funded countless John Waters films.

Or anything by Michael Bay. But that should probably go without saying.

Janice said...

BTW - love your new photo Nat! I'm partial to noir (and chiaroscuro for that matter) and this is your sexiest pic yet!

Sam said...

Land of the Lost and Battlefield Earth. I'd also throw in Waterworld even though it's been a while, because it was just such an epic flop.

I really love the noir banner. It may be your best yet.

Janice said...

@ chris - ha! That completely sailed over my head the first time.

Stephen said...

Yes, Avatar and anything by Michael Bay are (sadly) obvious, aren't they? But the Battlefield Earth is a great one, one so many levels. And I can just hear John's nasty twang as he says it.

Ever since I read this book in 1988, I've heard his voice say these sentences as I've watched dozens of Hollywood films. Sometimes I get ten minutes in and think, uh-oh, there goes John in my head!

Janice said...

There are worse voices to have in one's head, certainly, and I can think of few better.

Jordan Ruimy said...

Pink Flamingos is raunchy stuff lol love that Waters Pic

Zach said...

I'm not a big fan of John Waters' films, but I think he is a hoot. He should have a talk show or something. I love me some John Waters.