John Waters has been a busy man this week, gaining an honorary doctorate from the Rhode Island School of Design and sitting down for an interview with The Daily Beast. While not making t-shirts promoting sex in voting booths or talking about his acts of voter fraud in the ’70s, Waters was able to give some encouraging words to the graduates in Rhode Island. It’s odd to think of the “Pope of Bad Taste” giving a touching speech to a group of young folks, but he did just that according to the AP:
Waters, known for the cult classic “Pink Flamingos” and other films that pushed the boundaries of good taste, was given an honorary doctorate Saturday at the prestigious art school’s 132nd commencement.
He urged the 669 graduates to go out and “outrage outdated critics” and “make ME nervous.”
“It’s your turn to cause trouble,” he said.
Over at The Daily Beast, Waters took some time to address his thoughts on the future presidential election and the recent unrest in his hometown, Baltimore. At 69, it’s not a foreign incident to remember the riots of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, providing a vantage point for Waters to give his view on the situation to The Daily Beast:
“I was around for the first Baltimore riots,” Waters says. “My first apartment in Baltimore was on 25th Street and Calvert, and there were tanks outside of my house. Everywhere was burning. Believe me, these riots were not as bad as those. But the riots in Baltimore this time were more widespread than what you saw on CNN, because if you watched CNN, you’d think it was that one big fire and Penn and North. The Penn-North neighborhood, I guarantee you, 80 percent of white people I know haven’t been there. I used to live [around] there. I used to live in an all-black neighborhood…The problem in Baltimore is that…there is also an equal number of poor white people. I really wish that they would team up. The poor people of Baltimore need to make it a class issue, not a race issue.”
Waters also says he didn’t initially want to give his thoughts on the situation due to the racial and geographic nature of the events, but also because what happened is not a shared experience:
“Whatever you think, Freddie Gray was walking up the street and then he’s dead. Somebody has to pay for that. It was somebody’s fault.”
It’s an interesting chat over at The Daily Beast, so check it out. He has an especially funny joke about the empty stadium Orioles game from a few weeks back. Or better yet, go try to check out a Waters film or two. I prefer Serial Mom myself, but there’s a few good ones in there.