Shock value

Joe wanted to see John Waters’ latest flick “A Dirty Shame,” so we did last week. I’d never seen any of his movies before. My main impression of him is from the late lamented UC Theatre in Berkeley, where they would show theno smoking PSA featuring John Waters.

“I’m supposed to announce that there’s no smoking in this theatre.” He lights up a cigarette. “Which I think is ridiculous. How can anyone sit through the length of a film, especially a foreign film without a cigarette?” He takes a drag. “Smoke anyway. It gives ushers jobs, and without jobs, where would the youth of America be today? Don’t you wish you had one right now? So once again, no smoking in this theatre.” He sucks in a puff of smoke. From the mention of ushers, and the skinniness of his tie, the announcement must have been filmed in the 70’s. (Script is paraphrased from what I can vaguely remember.)

Anyhoo, so we went to see “A Dirty Shame.” Yes, it is about sex, very over the top camp, some of it in a refreshingly frank, touching way (Tracey Ullman’s sexual wakening), some of it in an irredeemably gratuitous way (we get the size of Selma Blair’s bosom, the same point could have been made with a few less cups.) It’s sort of funny seeing Chris Isaak cast as the meek, bland husband. And of course Patty Hearst is in there . . .
Some older folks in the audience walked out (which apparently happens at most showings.), but I wonder didn’t they realize it was a John Waters film?! Would I recommend it? It depends on who you are . . .

On the flip side, my mom took us to see “The Producers”. We haven’t gone to see any big-name shows (either Broadway or stadium concerts) in so long, just because they’re so expensive. The base price of the ticket being so expensive compared to my day (in college): lawn tickets have doubled. Then there’s the Ticketmaster fees: service charges, processing charges, per-ticket charges, and because-it’s-Tuesday charges. Joe passed up on going to see The Boss simply on principle of not wanting to pay an additional $11 on top of a $75 ticket. The idea of performers charging higher ticket prices to make up for the loss of CD sales due to free downloads is OK, the idea of Ticketmaster gouging fans by virtue of its monopoly is not.

“The Producers” was actually pretty entertaining, the catchy tunes, the snappy lyrics, the ingenious sets; these elements made me remember why I used to going to see shows. While the play is set in the post-war era, and spoofs queens and foreigners in a manner easily fitting Middle-America’s stereotype of gays and Europeans, there’s also a decided 90’s sensibility to the production that’s carried over from MTV: “fuck”, “sex” and “erection” were part of the lyrics, and the leering and uh . . . physical intercourse were very explicitly demonstrated. Not to say I’m a prude, but I attended a matinee show, where parents had brought along their children. If I were a parent, I might have demanded my money back, because there didn’t seem to be any notice that the show might be rated R if it were a motion picture.


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