Camp • Sontag claimed that “the essence of Camp is its love of the unnatural: of artifice and exaggeration…” (3). I have isolated this one sentence because it is a definition that can be applied to John Waters’ films.
Waters makes a guest appearance as a collectable junk store owner called John. Upon visiting his store, Homer asks John why a “grown man” would collect such junk, and John replies: • JOHN: It’s camp! • Homer looks back at John with a blank expression, not comprehending what he means. • JOHN: The tragically ludicrous, the ludicrously tragic.HOMER: Oh yeah, like when a clown dies.JOHN: Well sort of, but I mean more like inflatable furniture or Last Supper TV trays or even this bowling shirt…HOMER: And that kind of stuff is worth money? … You should come over to our place, it’s full of valuable worthless junk (4).
Polyester 1981 Polyester was meant as a send-up of “women’s pictures,” an exploitative genre of film that was popular from the 1950s-60s and typically featured bored, unfulfilled, or otherwise troubled women, usually middle-aged suburban housewives, finding release or escape through the arrival of a handsome man.
Sirk's melodramas of the 1950s were generally very poorly received by reviewers. His films were considered unimportant (because they revolve around female and domestic issues), banal (because of their focus on larger-than-life feelings) and unrealistic (because of their conspicuous style). This dismissal of Sirk's films changed drastically in the 1970s when his work was reexamined by British and French critics. From around 1970 there was a considerable interest among academic film scholars for Sirk's work - especially his American melodramas. Often centering on the formerly criticized style, his films were now seen as masterpieces of irony
Transgressivevs Subversive • Transgress: to break, violate or go beyond boundaries or laws (even of decency) • Subvert: To upset or overthrow (there is a connotation of secrecy)
Sirk Form subverts content Use of melodrama and garish colors A way to subvert culture?
Transgress • Aesthetically: rebels against rules and conventions • Taboo (topics and actions that are strongly prohibited by culture) • Campy, shocking, gross
Bad Taste as Good Taste • Multiple Maniacs (1971) 5,000 • Pink Flamingos (1973) 12,000 • “assault on conventional sensibilities” “Dregs of human perversity” “one of the most vile, stupid and repulsive films ever made” • “Perfect underground flick for a generation coming of age during Watergate, devoid of the ideals of the late-sixties counterculture, but equally disdainful of their parents’ institutions”
Polyester 1981 (Studio Indie) • New Line Cinema • Usual Players • Odorama
“Divine” • October 19, 1945 – March 7, 1988) was an actor and singer, best known for his drag persona, Divine, especially in the role of "Edna Turnblad" in the 1988 comedy film Hairspray.