photo manipulation by nacrowe
i am a total fanboy of DIVINE and JOHN WATERS.
i mean really. if you check out any of their trashy EXPLOITATION filmography from the 1970s, movies like PINK FLAMINGOS (DREAMLAND, 1972) and DESPERATE LIVING (DREAMLAND, 1977) or even more obscure earlier fare like MULTIPLE MANIACS (DREAMLAND, 1970) and MONDO TRASHO (DREAMLAND, 1969) you will not be disappointed.
my favorite out of the bunch is FEMALE TROUBLE (DREAMLAND, 1974) which depicts the life of a BALTIMORE teenager seeking attention throughout her life and ultimately commits murder for the sole motivation of becoming notorious.
for me this film is a bitter take on TABLOID culture in much the same way as BILLY WILDER's ACE IN THE HOLE (PARAMOUNT, 1951) eviscerated yellow journalism a generation before. WATERS saw the future of the AMERICAN SOUL and the lowest common denominator in cultural terms as the concept of infamy being a goal in and of itself predates today's online social media culture where people are famous for being famous and being "on brand." DIVINE is psychotic as all hell in this film and the DREAMLAND cast, as always, keep the film grounded in its debased underbelly like a more deranged and conked-out alternate versions of ANDY WARHOL's superstars.
the look, the acting, the humor and the caustic message about the nature of the media and the vacuous nature of seeking fame in this film is all textbook JOHN WATERS and is why FEMALE TROUBLE has been a touchstone of my movie-viewing habits since my teen years.
this film is required viewing in my opinion.
art by nacrowe
man i am a huge JOHN WATERS fan.
when i think about his films, especially those from the 1970s, i think of a true auteur who brings his audience into a fellini-esque carnival alternate reality of the destitute, disaffected and delusional. he holds a mirror to our true selves.
there is an almost poignant clarity in the shallowness of his characters, particularly those portrayed by the inimitable DIVINE / GLENN MILSTEAD (RIP) in PINK FLAMINGOES, FEMALE TROUBLE and DESPERATE LIVING. the baser rungs of our nature provide the motivation for these characters, which poetically mirror modern reality tv and internet meme culture. WATERS back then saw something in much the same way that BILLY WILDER did years before in his doomed opus ACE IN THE HOLE, that spectacle and sensationlism in american life is more important than knowledge, empathy, love or any meaningful higher ideal that binds us all.
his movie's truly reflect a future dystopia: trump's america.
as DIVINE's character dawn davenport states poignantly before her execution via electric chair in FEMALE TROUBLE...
I'd like to thank all the wonderful people that made this great moment in my life come true. My daughter Taffy, who died in order to further my career. My friends Chicklette and Concetta who should be here with me today. All the fans who died so fashionably and gallantly at my nightclub act. And especially all those wonderful people who were kind enough to read about me in the newspapers and watch me on the television news shows. Without all of you, my career could never have gotten this far. It was you that I murdered for and it is you that I will die for! Please remember, I love every fucking one of you!