LIVERPOOL—In an interview with BBC Radio 3 before his appearance November 8 at the Homotopia Festival in Liverpool, American movie director John Waters was asked about the extremes of entertainment today as opposed to when he was making his most famous, or infamous, movies, including Pink Flamingos (1972), Female Trouble (1974) and Pecker (1998). Not mincing his words (as if he ever does), Waters made no bones about his issues with porn, but not just any porn. As far as Waters is concerned, heterosexual porn is the problem.
"I agree that some porn is obscene today," he told the BBC. "Someone said, 'It's not making love, it's making hate'. Especially heterosexual porn. I think in the gay porn you can tell they're both in on it. In some of the hetero porn [with] the [treatment of] women you cannot tell."
But as eager as the BBC may have been to hear an American actually side with the U.K. plan to proscribe access to porn that allegedly glorifies the abuse of women, Waters was quick to note that despite his reservations about "obscene" content, "that is the limits of free speech we have to put up with."
Waters' problems are not just with some hetero porn, but also with "torture porn" feature films that seem to be Hollywood's stock and trade these days.
In an article posted to BBC.com yesterday, writer Samira Ahmed notes, "There is a striking contrast, [Waters] says, between Pink Flamingos' good natured attempt to shock, and the forensically detailed, realistic violence of so-called 'torture porn' films like Saw and equally mainstream fare as The Killer Inside Me (2010)—a film rated R despite its depiction of what the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) called 'disturbing brutal violence, aberrant sexual content and some graphic nudity.'"
By contrast, Waters pointed out, his 2003 movie A Dirty Shame, which featured no actual sex or violence despite being about sex addicts, was given an NC-17 rating.
"I appealed [the rating] and I lost the case," he said, adding, "I'm not saying it would have been a success with an R rating, but it did hurt it. And it's amazing to me how in America it's still very uptight about sex and pro-violence and in Europe it's usually the other way round."
Usually, but not always.