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  •  Your take on Waters is very different from mine. (8+ / 0-)

    I'll talk about Hairspray 1988, not the later dreck.  In Hairspray, I didn't feel a great deal of sympathy for Tracy, nor did I worry about her problems, nor did I feel COMPELLED to worry about her and her problems or COMPELLED to sympathize with her.  In fact, expressing such sympathy felt like a dirty trap laid by the filmmaker.  "Will the film audience be dumb enough to worry about this stupid dance contest?  Hahahaha."  I never, for once, felt that it related to anything in my real life.  Even if I HAD been somebody like Tracy at some point in my life, I don't think I would have shed a tear over Tracy's problems.

    The first time I saw Hairspray (1988), I thought, what a bunch of STUPID HORSESHIT to make a movie out.  I really couldn't get it.  I felt like I'd seen this same film before, only this is slightly worse, and I wasn't sure how seriously I was supposed to take it.  It made me uncomfortable.

    By the way Waters' presents it, the whole typical storyline is destroyed before it begins.  You're not allowed to clench your fists in anxiety that the bad girl doesn't win, and if you do, you're a dunce.

    Compare it to a film like Bring it On (a film I've never watched and don't think I'll ever want to, either, so I'm speaking from impressions absorbed osmotically).  It's a story about teenage girls competing in a high school extramural cheerleading team contest.  I have no doubt that the audience for that film was full of teenage girls clutching each other in anxiety at all the dramatic moments, and seething hatred at the bad girls on the other team.  

    In a way, Bring it On is what Hairspray mocks.  It's the same story line, essentially, same appeals to dumb tribal loyalty, same melodrama over petty teenage competitive shit.  I've probably trashed somebody's favorite movie, for all I know, but I'm just pointing out the formal similarity.

    (I can't believe I'm actually writing such a long, detailed post about this shit, can you?  What's wrong with me?)

    I point out the similarities so I can thereby point out that Hairspray is a mockery of the audience.  Unlike Blazing Saddles, where the audience gets to laugh at cowboy films and their stereotypes, Hairspray mocks the form and the audience that takes it seriously, that you ever took it seriously.

    And still...  It's not cruel!  Which is why it works so well.  When Stacy and her enemy get up to do their dumb high school dances in the dance contest, neither of which is particularly inspired or done rather well, it's entertaining.  It's LIFE OR DEATH in the context of the storyline, but to us, it's just fun to watch.  You're forced to first distance yourself from the character (very different from Catch-22) and then you're allowed to look at it more objectively from a greater distance with a twinkle in your eye.

    •  Dumbo. It's about Baltimore in the 1960s (8+ / 0-)

      and about racial stereotyping. THAT is what Waters is mocking -- especially the racial stereotyping. And that's why Tracy matters, and why the audience gets sucked into it.

      YMMV, of course.

      Irony takes a worse beating from Republicans than Wile E. Coyote does from Acme. --Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

      by Youffraita on Wed Jul 24, 2013 at 08:37:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I started to say in the previous post, (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cfk, RiveroftheWest, Youffraita, shari, No Exit

        before it go too long, that even the part about racial stereotyping was mockery.  That was the obligatory "DEEP MESSAGE."  Usually, such obligatory deep messages are just another type of writer laziness, but Waters makes great fun of it, both treating it as if it's a real burning concern, and at the same time tossing things in like "Negro Day."  The civil rights movement of the 60s is treated with the same semi-serious snickering as the Corny Collins dance-off.

        •  Point well taken. (6+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          cfk, Brecht, Dumbo, shari, wonderful world, No Exit

          But that's John Waters: that's been his modus operandi for his entire career.

          Hairspray was one of his first "serious" movies.

          I mean, have you ever seen Pink Flamingos?

          Irony takes a worse beating from Republicans than Wile E. Coyote does from Acme. --Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

          by Youffraita on Wed Jul 24, 2013 at 09:01:22 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  No, I never saw that one. (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            cfk, wonderful world, No Exit, Youffraita

            I liked Crybaby and Polyester and Cecil B. Demented and Serial Mom.  Crybaby is a lot like Hairspray.  It's hard to not enjoy a scene like this:

            •  My first Waters film was Pink Flamingos. (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              cfk, Dumbo, Brecht, RiveroftheWest

              Hairspray is an order or two of magnitude better.

              Pink Flamingos basically sucked. Do Not Watch Without Serious Chemicals In Your System. (weed works: I smoked a whole joint by myself before going to that one)

              Irony takes a worse beating from Republicans than Wile E. Coyote does from Acme. --Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

              by Youffraita on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 02:14:12 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Nope, never saw it. (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                cfk, Brecht, RiveroftheWest, Youffraita

                I used to, a long time ago, volunteer for a suicide hotline in Orange County.  There was one girl that called frequently, and she was a big fan of Pink Flamingos.  

                You might wonder why somebody would call a suicide hotline to talk about their favorite films.  You've got a point, but that's exactly what they do.  And after every call like that, I had to fill out a form.  "Talked about Pink Flamingos."

                So I think I know that film by heart without ever having seen it.  I think she was trying to talk me into asking her out.  I didn't love my (unpaid) job so much I wouldn't have considered doing something so unethical in order to get laid, because back then I did many unethical things to get laid on a regular basis.  But based on intuition it had the feeling of a VERY BAD IDEA.  

                Another time she called me up to tell me how she had taken a skydiving course, and how hot her instructor was.  "So why did you decide to take a skydiving course?"  "Uh, it sounded fun.  You know, it raises your self-esteem!"  More paperwork to fill out.

                •  Thank you for documenting (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  cfk, RiveroftheWest

                  why I never want to do a suicide hotline.

                  But she doesn't sound suicidal, she sounds crazy. NOBODY likes Pink Flamingos that much, not even its auteur.

                  Who went on to make actual GOOD movies, once he had the budget to do so.

                  Irony takes a worse beating from Republicans than Wile E. Coyote does from Acme. --Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

                  by Youffraita on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 10:51:50 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

          •  i was wondering if anyone would mention (5+ / 0-)

            Pink Flamingo's...

            it's borderline unwatchable, but it contains some things you may never see (or want to see) on film.

            i guess it's over-the-topness is some sort of pull for some people.

            Pink Flamingos is a 1972 American transgressive black comedy exploitation film written, produced, composed, shot, edited, and directed by John Waters. When the film was initially released, it caused a huge degree of controversy due to the wide range of perverse acts performed in explicit detail. It has since become one of the most notorious films ever made and made an underground star of the flamboyant drag queen actor Divine. The film co-stars David Lochary, Mary Vivian Pearce, Mink Stole, Danny Mills, Cookie Mueller, and Edith Massey.

            Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends. - Gandalf the Grey

            by No Exit on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 09:15:44 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Divine was fabulous. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              cfk, RiveroftheWest

              The dog shit eating scene was merely disgusting.

              And what was that thing about the eggs?

              Irony takes a worse beating from Republicans than Wile E. Coyote does from Acme. --Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

              by Youffraita on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 02:16:05 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

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