Features and Columns · Movies

Absolutely Sickening: The Provocative Punk Power of ‘Pink Flamingos’

“Filth is my politics! Filth is my life!”
Pink Flamingos
By  · Published on May 17th, 2021

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay about the marvelous trash factor of John Waters’ Pink Flamingos.

There’s depravity…and then there’s 1972’s Pink FlamingosDirected, written, produced, narrated, shot, and edited by counterculture icon John Waters, Pink Flamingos tells the deliciously degenerate tale of a handful of ne’er-do-wells vying for the title of “the filthiest person alive.” Abhorrent one-up-manship ensues, including (but not limited to) murder, cannibalism, gluttony, exhibitionism, [redacted], [also redacted], and [absolutely redacted].

As its tagline unabashedly boasts, Pink Flamingos is a feature-length “exercise in poor taste,” a shocking display of outrageous, grotesque, and bizarre obscenities that are sure to upset the strongest stomach. The film has been banned in multiple countries and repeatedly garners the most restrictive viewer advisory possible. (Waters once told The Washington Post that he “loved the idea of the ratings board having to sit down to watch it,” which, to be fair, is a very funny mental image).

And yet, as the video essay below explains, for all its infamously debauched displays, the film’s impact on pop culture cannot be denied. Fashioned after pre-Stonewall Underground Cinema, Pink Flamingos is an important and influential cultural object in LGBTQ spaces. And the film has been described as a vital precursor to the punk movement, precisely because, not in spite, of its messiness.

A word of caution: while the video essay below does not feature any visuals of the film’s more extreme and upsetting scenes, they are described. So be mindful of your limits (we all have them) and proceed on your own terms.

Watch “Pink Flamingos – Reflecting On Peak Trash Cinema“:

Who made this?

You Have Been Watching Films is produced by United Kingdom-based writer Oliver Bagshaw. The channel provides video essays on an assortment of films, from cult to classic strains of cinema history. You can subscribe to their YouTube channel here. And you can follow them on Twitter here.

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Based in the Pacific North West, Meg enjoys long scrambles on cliff faces and cozying up with a good piece of 1960s eurotrash. As a senior contributor at FSR, Meg's objective is to spread the good word about the best of sleaze, genre, and practical effects.