Quick-Thoughts: John Water’s Pink Flamingos (1972)

Lives up to being the worst thing I’ve ever seen. My journey with film has led me to a whole other dimension of art now. There really is no turning back for my soul. I mean hell, this s**t gives the daring massacrist dark comedy in Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) and the aggressive celebritizing of serial-killers in Natural Born Killers (1994) a run for their money! Jesus Christ. How am I ever supposed to be a better person after watching this? How am I ever supposed to be at peace with the world after watching this? Do I officially just stop giving a f**k about anything at this point? 

However, I think I’d be feeding my hypocrisy if I decided to give this film a half star simply because I found one scene in particular involving a chicken — if you know, you KNOW — to be excessively graphic, considering I and most the people on this planet eat chicken almost every day for our own pleasures, just as the film had killed one for its own. I simply then can’t see myself to be in a higher position than John Waters like some conceited critics have, and with that said, it’d be bulls**t too for me to condemn what he’s done here as some low bar effort of artistic expression when it’s so earnestly a desensitized reflection of human desperation. Plus, I mean, by the time couches started rejecting the Marble’s I was dying of laughter. This movie works because it is sometimes extremely funny and sometimes extremely upsetting, making it all the more difficult to have a stance on or to further accept, and respectively so as showcasing the taboo should be.  

Everything begins making total sense as we head closer to Pink Flamingos ending though. Whether the film is showing us something as unforgivable as rape and murder in an off-puttingly casual manner, it’s evidently because Waters finds the way real life media has spoken on behalf of such abhorrent crimes as being handled far too off-puttingly casual themselves. He’s pulling back the “cover-up” layers of a time period of profitable publication that didn’t give a f**k about demanding justice issues, rather so pretending like such and such was culturally wrong but never advocating to take it seriously among forgotten victims and movements that were attempting to gain their recognition to actually fight wrongs, wrongs that aren’t legitimately taboo in consideration of how so much of it is hidden in the people around us for the sake of business; it’s easy for everybody to nod their heads and say, “yes, rape is bad”, yet rape culture somehow stays socially prevalent, enlightening on the fact that many people must in their hearts still think of it as some sort of joke just as the film depicts it as in this unusually outspoken world. It’s using a fictional cult culture as a way to mirror ironically both traditional and mainstream ones as nothing less than subtleties of the filthiest things people will do that we appear to despise, as well as absurdism to emphasize how far people are willing to go for self-glory and fame — a topic I have grown unhealthily obsessed with over these past two years in transition with me trying to start my own artistic careers. Pink Flamingos is an oddly amusing movie with some of cinema’s most quotable lines ever that is also sometimes insanely infuriating because it is telling a lot of truths in a lot of so-called “shock-value” exaggerations that did admittedly make me nearly puke once or twice. It also sadly holds relevant to today as well, especially in this mismatched age of internet. 

I wonder what a modern reboot would (and probably will) be like though. Without Divine, I’d say don’t even try. What a performance.

Verdict: B+

“Pink Flamingos” is now available to stream on The Criterion Channel.

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