27 January 2008

Hairspray (1988)

Filed under: Movies — ktismatics @ 4:46 pm

hairspray white dancers

hairspray blondie

hairspray divine

hairspray black dancers

hairspray waters


  1. Excellent Clys this is one of my fav movies of all time, although there was no text to go with the pictures? The psychiatrist with the cattle prod is hilarious, as is Deborah Harry’s hairdo and narcissistic upper class cunt attitude, but I think the real contribution of this film that the remake never captured or even falsified in a sense is those Deleuzian patterns that the dancers make don’t you think?


    Comment by parodycenter — 28 January 2008 @ 9:21 am

  2. Ktismatics no longer believes that words or language are necessary. We now have the image. And image is everything.


    Comment by Erdman — 28 January 2008 @ 9:39 am

  3. No words, just screen shots — I wanted something more interesting to look at sitting on the top of the (not-)ktismatics pile of posts.

    The psychiatrist is John Waters himself — just before jabbing the girl with his prod he asks her if she’s gotten in touch with her anger yet. Yes I think the black dancers are the Deleuzians, sticking their asses out, undulating sinuously and sensuously and idiosyncratically in the darkness, continually deterritorializing and reterritorializing the sexual drive, inventing new dances that the white kids tame, systematize, regiment, render square. The DJ on the white “Corny Collins” dance TV program keeps instructing the dancers to “make a good STRONG line.”


    Comment by ktismatics — 28 January 2008 @ 9:50 am

  4. Erdman, where the hell did you come from? I’ve been stalking Theos Project in my post-linguistic phase, observing your efforts to shake up the evangelicals, trying to get them to smoke dope and eat fish. I recommend the original Hairspray highly — very exuberant, lots of fun, beautifully filmed (as you can see without my having to say so), PG rated, thoroughly queer in the postmodern sense. I haven’t seen the recent musical remake, but I suspect it’s fun in a somewhat more conventional way.


    Comment by ktismatics — 28 January 2008 @ 9:53 am

  5. Yeah, I s’ppose the remake is “fun (in a more conventional way).” But it’s also nauseatingly overstated in ‘racial integration’ – where if I recall correctly, Waters sort of ‘camped up’ rather than made a Disney movie. It’s not that those endearing, self-conscious winks are missing in Hairspray (2007), it’s just they feel distinctly out of place amidst the film’s penchant for endearment. But it’s still rather worth a look!


    Comment by Seyfried — 28 January 2008 @ 11:23 am

  6. I loved the HELL in where the Hell did you come from and the PG rated as well ;-) Regards from the capital of Calvinist guilt, Erdman!

    Jonquille is playing my mom in drag now, the Generation Gap schtick, harping on the Maria Callas – this is only slightly worse than my mom’s regular monthly listening of Missa Solemnis by Gounod, usually followed by Mario Lanza.

    Waters had published a marvelous book in which he explained that he used to spend a lot of time at the Baltimore mental hospital, observing with fascination and a very humanistic sense of kindness all the lost or maladapted people. He recruited some of his cast from there. You can sense this humanism throughout his opus, and this is why I think he’s genuinely great – someone who forgives people and sees creativity in their quirks. Even in later works, when he supposedly lost the edge by ”selling out” to Hollywood, which HAIRSPRAY started I believe, he never really lost this warmth, and you can tell by the loving details in scenes like Edna and Tracy turnblad going to the HEFTY HIDEAWAY together, where Edna, for all of her grotesqueness, appears just such a marvelous mom. I think whereas in this film the recollection of the 1950s and the 1960s was half-ironic, as if to say things weren’t really so idyllic then, in the remake they’re sort of psychotic – as if you can restore ”innocence” that never existed with a straight face. It’s a lot like Disney’s attempt to redeem his Evil in the new ENCHANTED by pretending the Happily Everafter is still possible for America. I know Jonquille’s heart is broken because his country turned out such a lie, but on the other hand sometimes Rude Awakenings have a therapeutic effect!

    Clysmatics by the way I just saw a Dutch site, where some friends of mine worked as designers, which successfully offers online counseling. Why did you give up on that idea, started once with me and Love and Terrorism? They seem like they’re full of clients, and they also needed good interactive design for the business. I can send you the link but you don’t speak any Dutch I think?


    Comment by parodycenter — 28 January 2008 @ 11:35 am

  7. “I know Jonquille’s heart is broken because his country turned out such a lie, but on the other hand sometimes Rude Awakenings have a therapeutic effect!”

    All you ever think of is therapy, and NO WONDER! I’m not heartbroken, I still like the remake of ‘Hairspray’ better than ‘Inland Empire’, because Michelle Pfeiffer makes Laura Dern look dimestore as shit.

    I actually have a recording of ‘Missa Solemnis’ coming from NYPL, without the Mario Lanza, the way your schmaltzy mother does. It’s you who does the maternality, what with trying to playing me and Clysmatics against each other. Indeed you are a degraded bottom feeder, as well as a Puerto Rican Aztec slave girl!


    Comment by jonquille de camembert — 28 January 2008 @ 12:13 pm

  8. because Michelle Pfeiffer makes Laura Dern look dimestore as shit.

    I agree that Dern looks a lot like Comrade Infinite Thought WITH Marxist makeup, only a bit less butch I would say, but then on the other hand what does Pfeiffer look like without makeup? We’ll never get to find out, because the knife has worked on Michelle’s face countless times, darling. I read it several times in PEOPLE magazine.

    The missa is in fact very nice, and my brilliant mother has impeccable taste, how else do you think I turned out as fabulous as I did? It’s just that after 35 years of the missa, I really don’t think I have to put up with your Maria Callas as well.

    Speaking of the Aztec girl, that’s one of my favorite AbFab episodes; I just love the moment when Patsy is prowling NYC and some passerby trannies remark LOVE THE CHAINS BABY to her overdone Goutier attire. Then of course the immortal ending where you see the two still going strong in their old age, and Patsy’s undies fall just before she is to enter the house. They later made a kind of a remake in Series Six where Bo Chrysalis is sitting at this wimmin PMS therapy group; when one of the British wimmin asks her how she’s dealing with her own PMS, she says ”Oh we don’t have PMS in America! We don’t believe in it!”


    Comment by parodycenter — 28 January 2008 @ 12:30 pm

  9. Parodycenter did you see the quote from John Waters at the upper left: “Nobody does impenetrable better than David Lynch”? Can you concoct a psychoanalytic interpretation of a filmmaker like Lynch who goes to such extremes to resist being “penetrated” by the viewers?


    Comment by ktismatics — 28 January 2008 @ 2:33 pm

  10. Clysmatics, I am just engaging in a conversation with the narcissistic cat dr. Sinthome on blogging text; applying a Deleuzian analysis I would say that comments in blogs, as well as new kinds of film-making, by their materiality, and their movement, ”embody” the text, ”animate” it. Lynch got to this point in INLAND EMPIRE which as I told you repeatedly creates a presence – the Gnostic Deity perhaps – but not as a fantasy, not as a metaphor, rather, by its very materiality: timing, light, and most notably the surface of the video tape onto which the film is recorded. Similarly in HAIRSPRAY it is those moments when the patterns and colors created by the dancers that strike my fancy mostly, not for what they suggest or mean, although they do certainly suggest an inter-racial, progressive view as opposed to a binary, black-and-white one, …but for the way their endlessly shifting… how do I put it? patterns? take on a life of their own, become a ”line of flight” perhaps; they are evanescent, in a way. but i am putting an accent on the materiality of the image, could this be what deleuze meant with his philosophy of the cinema? worthy of more consideration!


    Comment by parodycenter — 28 January 2008 @ 3:24 pm

  11. So the impenetrable I guess would mean that the ”point” of a Lynch film is all in its surface, in its materiality.


    Comment by parodycenter — 28 January 2008 @ 3:25 pm

  12. “the ”point” of a Lynch film is all in its surface, in its materiality.”

    Somehow what comes to mind is Waters wielding his cattle prod trying to penetrate Lynch… Hairspray is all about penetration, opening things up, giving the world a clysmatic treatment. While the world of Inland Empire seems to open onto countless portals to alternate realities, it remains insularly resistant to outside contact. Of the two movies, Hairspray is far more material.


    Comment by ktismatics — 28 January 2008 @ 4:23 pm

  13. what makes it more than just PoMo camp is Waters’s love of people – notice the woman in the dance hall who motivates people to applaud; everyone, even the most perfunctory characters, gets special treatment. I wonder if in reality BAltimore is really such a haven for the odd and the quirky Leftist? Never been there but strikes me as a super town!

    Clysmatics dr. Sinthome is such a prissy, unforgiving and self-absorbed cat; he rarely rewards me for all the attention I lavish upon him, and my honest attempts to use his thoughts creatively he greets with cold distancing. Worst of all he persistently refuses to extend our transferrential relationship towards some kind of analytic rapport.


    Comment by parodycenter — 29 January 2008 @ 2:17 pm

  14. I agree that Waters seemed really to enjoy all these quirky characters in the movie. His camp treatment was kind-hearted and even-handed. In my experience Baltimore always had a run-down beat-up appearance and a lonely street scene, but I never spent any real time there to get to know it.


    Comment by ktismatics — 29 January 2008 @ 2:23 pm

  15. I withdraw that last remark, dr. Sinthome is in some personal turmoil, apparently. Waters’s comedy often leans on the unparalleled BBC tradition – stuff like KEEPING UP APPEARANCES, which for example was the material from which he spun SERIAL MOM. I suppose what is seen as the ”beatnik arty-farty” scene over there comes as much more ordinary to us Europeans. Anyhow having read Shaviro’s new piece on Whitehead I do feel inspired to continue the discussion on Eastern Promises, so if you’d care to comment at the CPC I will also have more material to show the university. To be continued shortly.


    Comment by parodycenter — 30 January 2008 @ 6:23 am

  16. I don’t know Keeping Up Appearances, so I can’t reply. Hairspray strikes me as an anti-elitist celebration of diversity, and perhaps also of excellence, in “cultural product.” There’s an immanent drive to experiment that is suppressed by a mainstream culture dominated by money (e.g., the sponsors of the Corny Collins show). Corny’s sponsors don’t want to purvey elite dancing; they want to cultivate an image of wholesome white youth culture. Perhaps because European countries are more prone to subsidize art regardless of popular tastes, there’s more diversity of expression in a socialistic art world than in the supposed explosion of diversity in a market-dominated art scene. On the other hand, I suspect that a lot of the European subsidizers rely on boards of experts who advocate a fairly conservative haute-bourgeois or elite aesthetic, so you get fairly conservative and boring cultural product coming through the pipeline.

    I look forward to continuing the Eastern Promises discussion, so if you put up some thoughts I’ll see if they trigger anything in my own immanence. I echo Seyfried’s commendation of your latest movie review at the Parody Center, but since I’ve neither seen nor heard of that particular film I had nothing to say about it. This is the trade-off between incisive commentary and popularity that we’ve discussed previously, although the blog theorists who are the main targets/beneficiaries of your parodic efforts are even less well-known to a potentially broader blog audience than any weird-ass B picture you manage to dredge up from the archives.


    Comment by ktismatics — 30 January 2008 @ 9:21 am

  17. Keeping Up Appearances took me out of many a depression in the past decade, so you should see it – all of it – it’s absolutely brilliant. The star of the show is the snobbish Hyacinth Bucket, who insists that her name be pronounced ”Bouqet” and is constantly suffocating her bottom husband with incessant narcissistic demands. Across the yard is a Jonquille-type pianist who can’t stand the sight of Hyacinth, or her dreadful singing. She also has a trailer trash working class family that she wants to hide from the upper classes. Waters built Kathleen Turner’s character in SERIAL MOM out of Hyacinth, although in Waters the accent is on the American mass media culture rather than class anxieties.

    THE HOST is absolutely worth it, very original and after Seyfried’s comment I realized that the movie is a metaphor of the way societies are orphaned by capitalism – the monster’s gaping womb-like mouth as well as the hunger that the main characters experience, afraid of abandonment, symbolizes this – and for the rest it has a specific Korean vibe that I found very refreshing in comparison to American fare of the same category. So it is by no means B-level, except in financing.


    Comment by parodycenter — 30 January 2008 @ 10:37 am

  18. On the other hand, I suspect that a lot of the European subsidizers rely on boards of experts who advocate a fairly conservative haute-bourgeois or elite aesthetic, so you get fairly conservative and boring cultural product coming through the pipeline.

    Yes, especially in France. In Holland, there isn’t much more financing for art than in the States, I imagine, although last year there was enormous hoopla around the Dutch cultural ministry and the pressing need to introduce more budgets for the arthouse productions – I think it worked, too.


    Comment by parodycenter — 30 January 2008 @ 10:42 am

  19. Okay, based on your recommendations I’ll add Keeping Up Appearances and the Host to my Netflix cue, and also Teeth based on Seyfried’s link. The only Korean movie I recall ever seeing is Oldboy, from a few years ago. I thought it was brilliant, though I might have to revisit my own resonance with the sadism that drives the film.


    Comment by ktismatics — 30 January 2008 @ 11:23 am

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    Comment by William Sole — 9 March 2011 @ 11:59 am

  21. Sort of spammy, William, but at the same time sort of endearing. Next time I’m in need of orthopedic intervention in St. Petersburg FL I’ll stop in for a consult.


    Comment by ktismatics — 9 March 2011 @ 12:15 pm

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