Perhaps taking a cue from the notorious Wizard of Gore himself, Herschell Gordon Lewis, Waters seemingly made “Pink Flamingos” as extreme as possible in order to score publicity. Waters was clearly being deliberately disgusting, making a conscious effort to piss off the Pinks and cater to the gentle perverts of the world. Right underneath the noses of Baltimore’s hoi polloi is a filth contest that the average mind cannot fully encompass. On an episode of NPR’s “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me,” Waters said that “Pink Flamingos” was taken to court several times on obscenity charges, and that he could never mount any kind of defense. It is, after all, objectively obscene.
There is certainly an integrity to such an aspiration. Any sicko with a camera can film gross things and cut them together as a movie, but Waters possessed a winking love for his characters that makes a film like “Pink Flamingos” transcend from cruelty and aggression into … dare I say something sweet? John Waters’ characters love who they are, they love the filth they wallow in, and they love chaos. They are happy, blissful people who live so far off the grid, the real world has been reduced to something academic. Water built a new world, a filthy Babylon of competitive rule-breaking where common morality has been flipped.
And what’s so great about the world, anyway? A world without drugs, a world without queer people, a world without sex or violence? This is not a world worth preserving. The greatest danger is to be an a-hole. Ridding the world of Connie and Raymond Marble keeps filth alive, but rids the world of cruelty. Filth is a way of life, but mean people need not apply. Let’s celebrate with a — gulp — meal.