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Fox News Is a Few Decades Late in Fearmongering Over John Waters

"How's this for a centerspread?!"

Robin Williams in Jumanji, wearing leaves and a big beard. A still from the "What year is it?!" meme.

Sometimes, it takes us a little while to catch up with the rest of the world. Sometimes we only just discover things that others have been clued into for years. I often only get around to popular media months, or even years, after they initially come out. I’ll hear friends talk about shows like White Lotus and I’ll smile and give a thumbs-up, knowing damn well I’m too lazy to just watch the thing already. Things like this are largely inoffensive and not a big deal.

But there are some things that you just gotta laugh at, because holy shit:

Recently in North Carolina, there was a “Drag Queen Story Hour” where drag queens read books to elementary aged children. You know, like in the RuPaul SNL skit. It’s exactly the sort of non-issue an outlet like Fox News would choose to hone in on, but in particular, they were revolted, appalled, disgusted, and dare I say disturbed to discover that John Waters found the whole thing to be funny. So they wrote a whole article about it.

Not to be an “unprofessional twenty-something journalist” or anything, but … LOL. In today’s news, the sky is blue, grass is green, and rent is rising. What’s the story here, that Waters is a degenerate with a provocative sense of humor? Girl, we’ve been there, we’ve done that, we know. Old news! But thanks for the added Waters publicity, I guess! Truly though, thanks, because now we’ll hopefully get a few other pearl-clutchers to watch Divine eat literal dogshit in Pink Flamingos.

I mean, the original interview article is so informative and thoughtful, it only further proves how much Fox struggles to find actually important topics to talk about. The quote they’re pulling from, with some added context, is this:

…Waters embodies the very things that conservative Americans hate. His work is raunchy and vulgar. His work does feature a man performing in drag. I had to know what he thought about some of the recent political fireballs that the hardline right has lobbed at marginalized groups, particularly the LGBTQ community.

“I built a career on being banned,” Waters tells me when I ask for his thoughts on the recent trend of schools banning books deemed inappropriate for kids. “Nowadays if they ban a book it’s the best thing that can happen, because there are sections in bookshops — right up front, near the cash register — that say ‘banned books.’”

As you probably guessed, Waters also doesn’t see a problem with drag, and kids learning from it. He does think the concept is funny, though.

“I just picture little Billy coming home from school and Dad saying ‘How was school today?’” Waters tells me, “and he says ‘Oh, Little Miss Hot Mess taught me how to put on bottom lashes!’ Get it girl!”

Sara Pequeńo, in conversation with John Waters

I highly encourage everyone to read the rest of the interview. But yeah, this is just so innocuous, and invoking Waters’ name now in such a fashion is parody to the highest extent. The time to do it, if you were gonna do it at all, was when he was filming movies where the main quotes were, “Kill everyone now! Condone first degree murder! Advocate cannibalism! Eat shit! Filth are my politics, filth is my life!”

If anything, they’re just proving how timeless, relevant, and necessary his perspective is even today. Waters didn’t make those kinds of films just to shock and provoke; he did it for a purpose, and with love for his community. He knew that no matter what concessions were made, dangerous people were going to go after the LGBTQ+ community just for existing, so he gave them what they were looking for: murder, cannibalism, shit, and beyond. In this way, he communicated, We’re here and we’re not going anywhere, and if that bothers you, get bent.

So hey, cheers Fox for giving our boy another day in the spotlight! Especially since he’s got some new stuff to share with us all (Liarmouth and End of the World). Love that publicity.

(Featured Image: Columbia Pictures)

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Madeline (she/her) is a writer, dog mom, and casual insomniac. Her prior experiences with media have taken her down many different roads, from local history podcasts to music coverage & production. Niche interests include folk music, elves/wizards, and why horses are cool actually.