|A pivotal scene from John Waters' A Dirty Shame|
John Waters' A Dirty Shame (2004) -- to date, the Baltimore provocateur's latest film -- is a crude, often lowbrow and childish slapstick sex comedy which features CGI squirrels, gigantic fake breasts, obscene shrubbery, and a David Hasselhoff cameo. In other words, even though I'm proud to have it in my DVD collection, it is not exactly Oscar bait.
But it does contain a scene which has been running through my head a lot these last few days.
The plot in a nutshell: uptight Baltimore wife and mother Sylvia Stickles (Tracey Ullman) gets a concussion which turns her into an unapologetic, promiscuous sex addict. Soon, she finds herself part of a cult of sex addicts led by the mysterious Ray Ray (Johnny Knoxville) and realizes that many seemingly "normal" members of her community are sex addicts as well. Ultimately, there is a chaotic war for control of the neighborhood, with sex addicts on one side and the prudish, judgmental "neuters" (led by Waters' resident villainess Mink Stole) on the other. I think you can guess who wins.
Anyway, at one point, Sylvia's concerned husband and mother have a doctor visit the Stickles household, and there he tries to convince both Sylvia and her similarly-libidinous daughter Caprice a.k.a. Ursula Udders (Selma Blair, wearing an absurd prosthetic chest) that their problems can be solved through pharmaceuticals. Selma Blair vehemently protests ("I'm NOT depressed!") but ultimately is coerced into taking the pills.
|The uneven John Waters|
"I always have in all my movies, like, different doctors forcing medication on people. You know, I think tranquilizers are good for people that are chemically depressed, but I also think every brand is completely over-prescribed. What happened to 'the talking cure' with psychiatrists? They don't have that anymore! I'm for that! I don't want to be 'even.' I'm on her side here when she says, 'I'm not depressed!' Being 'even' sounds worse than being depressed."I may well be chemically depressed. I don't know. I'm not a doctor. But I share Waters' skepticism of being "even." If there were one word I wish I could ban from the critical vocabulary, it would be "uneven." Critics, both professional and amateur, are constantly complaining these days about works being "uneven." Since when did evenness become the standard by which art is judged. Whatever happened to consistency being "the hobgoblin of little minds?" To me, evenness is for sideburns, suburban lawns, and wallpaper. It's not for art and definitely not for comedy.
I used to theorize that the rise of the word "uneven" as a critical cliche was a side effect of all the mood-stabilizing drugs we've been gobbling up as a society. Well, now I'm actually on at least two of those drugs, and I worry about being too flat emotionally and losing the highs and lows which make life entertaining. It's true that I have some crushing, even life-threatening lows, but there's a goofy, playful side to my personality, too. I don't want to lose that side of myself. Lately, that part of myself seems to have evaporated.
Fortunately, I had my first meeting with my new therapist today, and it went very well. I explained a lot of these fears to her, and she completely understood what I meant. She said that my body would eventually adjust to the medications and, if it didn't, those medications could be switched until we could find a combination which worked for me. That was extremely encouraging news. I want Joe Blevins to be well, but I don't want "Wayne Kotke" (my silly side) to go away either.
Financially, I think I'm going to be able to handle this treatment without having to ask relatives for help. I'm fortunate to have a bit of a cushion to fall back on and no existing debts or dependents. But if I end up selling pencils on the street, you'll know what happened.
P.S. Even though my therapist was very cool and easy to work with, I could not help but end this post with a particular favorite song: