Parenting Lessons from John Waters

Paragon of American family values?

In a recent issue of our nation’s most perverse newspaper/website, “The Wall Street Journal,” John Jurgensen (great name, great spelling, probably accompanied by great accent) interviewed the Baltimore auteur, John Waters.

Waters has been a cultural hero of mine since one of my best friends in college and I took his high-school brother to see Waters’ seminal (hee-hee) film, “Pink Flamingos.” I have never seen a 17-year old boy so scarred from an otherwise simple cinematic experience. I must admit the film was rugged going for me, too.

More than anyone else in America, Waters defines bad taste. Actually, he defines what it means to cross the boundaries set by moral blowhards and never cross back. It’s like he’s Darth Vader with a sense of humor. He turns the dark side of the force into to a whoopee cushion filled with chocolate pudding placed on the principal’s chair. And the principal is J. Edgar Hoover dressed in drag.

I doubt Waters has fathered any children, but the interview contains one of the most important lessons for parents I have ever read:

“I think my parents made me feel safe. They were horrified by what I did, but they encouraged me to keep doing it because I was obsessed, and what else could I do?”

Waters’ parents, I am convinced, were your typical Baltimore by-the-book Roman Catholics without a spark of imagination. However, they clearly loved their son and wanted him to succeed by following his dreams, not theirs.

To my way of thinking, most family = dysfunction. As parents, our job is to try to not screw our kids up too much. Mostly, we fail at this simple task. However, John Waters’ parents succeeded brilliantly.

Their success was not without cost:

My movies were very humiliating for them.”

Not a word about “jeepers, son, could you stop embarrassing the family with this shit?” No:

I borrowed money from my father, and I paid him back. I was doing something.”

Christ, I wanted to cry of joy as I read this interview. John Waters, who introduced the filthiest performer ever — Divine (God rest her soul) — to the world by having her do disgusting things with eggs and dog shit (I considered linking to the appropriate videos, but could not stomach it), came straight out of a fucking Norman Rockwell painting.

Bravo to his parents and bravo to him for recognizing their utter brilliance at the most important job in the world.

About Stephen Dedalus, Jr.

I am trying to awaken from the history of my ancestor's nightmare to comment on my Holy Trinity of Interests: art, literature, and music. Oh, and thoughts on dysfunctional families, which is to say families.
This entry was posted in Culture, Divorced Parents, Yutes. Bookmark the permalink.

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