Thursday, October 27, 2011

Divine McMadness

Just yesterday I told you guys that I had done and interview with iconic director John Waters. The piece appears in the current edition (#392) and comes to the basic conclusion that it's not Waters who has changed, but the world that has caught up with him. I can't think a more prime example of this than one of 2011's breakthrough stars now doing a photoshoot inspired by the man and his muse, the drag queen Divine. Perhaps if Melissa McCarthy really wants that Oscar campaign for Bridesmaids to take off (I'd rather it didn't, but that's another story) then impersonating a female impersonator (?!?) probably isn't the way to go about it, but I love that she did it all the same. I love that a publication (is it still a "publication") like Entertainment Weekly did this in the first place, although they kinda skimped on the photos. The EW website only has two photos!

Of course, what this says about Melissa McCarthy and Divine is questionable. Divine was, after all, a man so having McCarthy in the part seems somewhat counter-productive (and did anybody at EW link these two for reasons other than their fuller figures?), but, on the other hand, how often does the image of Divine (aka Harris Glenn Milstead, by the way) get such big time exposure. Not just Divine, mind you, but Divine in Pink Flamingos. The same Divine in Pink Flamingos that licks her tongue all over a rival filth contender's house. The same Divine in Pink Flamingos that eats dog feces off the street. Yeah, that Divine. Let's be thankful McCarthy didn't recreate Pink Flamingos' "singing arsehole" moment. Sure, it wasn't Divine doing it, but it was divine all the same.


1 comment:

Janice said...

Glenn, I think this is really great and I suspect Divine/Milstead would have loved it (a woman inpersonating a drag queen) or at least appreciated the irony as well as the recognition and publicity. Divine is truly a mainstream icon now (as you say of Waters, culture has finally caught up with him), and it's too bad Milstead isn't here to enjoy it. (Of course the alternative reading is that he'd be pissed by the lack of financial reward from the appropriation of his creation, but that's another discussion.)

But it also makes sense, in my mind at least, on another level: in our mass media, large (white) women (really, any women who isn't a stick figure) is generally not seen at all, and certainly not seen as someone powerful, sexual, desirable and feminine. (The music industry seems to have a little more leeway - Jennifer Hudson, Adele - but not much. Think Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood. Or don't waste brainspace thinking on them.) A "fat girl" is somehow as invisible, as "Other" as GLBT's, and maybe more so at the moment. Or maybe mass media is starting to slowly catch up with the likes of McCarthy as well?

I've worked retail here in the US, and the tremendous discrepancy between the mall shoppers and the photographed adverts seen in the store windowfronts never failed to amuse, amaze and astonish me in equal measures.