January 20, 2008

The Opposite of Huckabee

Riddle me this: What is the opposite of Mike Huckabee?

Answer: The opposite of Mike Huckabee is A Dirty Shame, John Waters' 2004 twisted masterpiece.

I've seen all of John Waters' movies, except for Cry Baby, at least once. Last night was my third time watching A Dirty Shame and I like the flick better each time I see it. It's his most subversive movie. His other movies are about weird people; A Dirty Shame is based on the idea that normal people are just one minor head injury away from becoming absolute freaks. Johnny Knoxville: Freak
In the wild world according to Waters, we all have an inner pervert waiting for an impact to the cranium to emerge. Anything at all can be sexualized, from a can of Spaghetti-O's to a car tire, and the world is divided into freaks and neuters, the latter being people who hate sex. None of it's true, but it makes for a hilarious cinematic world view.

Waters goes even further, of course, because that's what John Waters does at his best. It's not enough for everyone to be either a perv or very nearly one. There's a perv Jesus and perv apostles and the whole thing is part of a religious awakening. The whole world will become instantly transformed into paradise when an act that has never been sexual becomes one. As it turns out, the magical sex act that brings on the Rapture is... butting heads. That's it. Tracy Ullman: FreakWe all bang our heads together and the neuters get "left behind." I mean, who else but John Waters can come up with that after shocking and challenging an audience with some of the most bizarre, deviant behavior ever brought to the screen? Who else would even try turning Tracy Ullman into a nymphomaniac in the first place? John Waters is the Genius of Trash. I love his flicks and I love A Dirty Shame best of all.

But there is one thing that makes my favorite Waters movie even better, and that's watching it as a break from keeping tabs on the presidential race. Let's face it, the world of presidential politics is every bit as trashy and unreal and perverse as the best John Waters movie. They're all so earnest and squeaky clean and wrapped in flags, those candidates. It's an act. John McCain and Mitt Romney's victory speeches don't show us anything more real about humanity than does strapping a pair of enormous prosthetic breasts onto Selma Blair and calling her Caprice Stickles. They've all got handlers who tell them how to look and what to do. They all follow a script designed exactly to remove as much authentic humanity from them and turn them into caricatures in an effort to cover up the imperfections that make us people. When we see Barak Obama or Mike Huckabee campaigning or when we see Johhny Knoxville levitating in "astral orgasm," we're seeing a symbol, not a person. Huckabee: NeuterThey're all characters that stand for something, some principle, some ideology, some perversion. It's unreal. It sure is fun, though, to whiplash between the extremes. There's a balance to be struck by experiencing the characters created for A Dirty Shame and the characters created for CNN.

Everybody creates a character that they project into the world to some extent; only a very, very few people — perhaps only one, if we're lucky — ever see our total reality. That's intimacy. When that intimacy slips out, the person-as-symbol becomes debased. When Howard Dean screamed in Iowa, he became too human and that was the end of his presidential bid. When Bill Clinton got a blowjob, and when Larry Craig tried to get one, they became debased, even though the truth of the matter is that just about every male on the planet has spent at least a few minutes of their day thinking about or getting the same thing (on a good day). Does that mean I want to see Fred Thompson's sex face plastered across the front page of the newspaper? Ugh, no. Still, the images we have in our heads, placed there through the aperture of some camera, are just fiction. Whether we ever see it or not (oh god oh god I'm sorry for putting this image in your heads so early in the morning), it's entirely possible that Hillary Clinton prefers doggy-style and that John Edwards has passed gas in a movie theater at least once. It's just as likely that Minka [This link is NOT work-safe or family-friendly!!!!] can quote Jean-Paul Sartre and Ron Jeremy enjoys discussing Impressionism over a snifter of fine brandy.

These are thoughts engendered by watching A Dirty Shame between coverage of Nevada caucuses and the South Carolina primary. Get a copy of the flick yourself and do the same on Super Tuesday and see if you don't come up with something similar. In any case, the opposite of Mike Huckabee is A Dirty Shame. There's just no getting around it.

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