17 May 2008

Pink Flamingos

I just don't know what's got into me lately. My choice of films is increasingly more transgressive. Perhaps it's a male monopause. Perhaps it's stress from work. Perhaps I overworked. Perhaps I'm bored of films that show the problems and complexity of middle-class people or those experimental films that want to appear more clever than they actually are. So yesterday I picked up John Waters' Pink Flamingos and it proved to be one of the most enjoyable films I've seen this year.

Of course I'm sure a lot of people who have heard of the film will probably think that I've gone out of my mind, choosing to watch this epitome of trash (which of of course has been banned in many countries) rather than a complex French film full of complex symbols, deep emotional subtlety, and multilayered plotlines. Somehow Pink Flamingos with its simple plot and the incredibly flat yet grotesque characterisation of Divine, Crackers, and the Marbles, turns out to be a breeze of fresh (well, quite stinking actually) air. It's purely irreverent and angry, and its prime target is (like Funny Games in my previous blog entry) the middle class. I really like the scene when Divine and her "son" go into the house of the Marbles and lick everything to put the curse on them. Of course a lot of people will certainly think this is bad taste. But it's precisely what John Waters sets out to do: to transgress what the bourgeois deems proper. If their identity project is to create a clean, proper human, Divine and her clans are simply the opposite, as they want to be 'the filthiest people in the world'. Her politics is simple: 'Kill everyone now. Condone first-degree murder. Advocate cannibalism. Eat shit.'

Of course, needless to say, this is not my personal politics. But this film is perhaps a good index of how middle-class lifestyle has entrapped people, becoming more like a norm that imprisons the public. Pink Flamingos in this case can be considered a carnivalesque play that enacts an imaginary, yet wistful scenario.

However, there's one scene that I don't like. It's the scene when Crackers and Cookie have sex and a couple of hens die in the process. Despite my liberal outlook, I personally don't condone violence, especially when it's done to people or animals who are unaware of what's going on. This is the same argument I would use in paedophilia and domestic violence, when the victims are underaged children who are not aware of what this might have damaged their mentality in the long run.

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