Nauseating John Waters Compares His Movie to the MOVE Bombing

Because his trashy "art" and the most tragic day in Philadelphia's history have just so, so much in common.

Filmmaker John Waters, who recently compared one of his movies to the MOVE bombing in Philadelphia

Filmmaker John Waters, who recently compared one of his movies to the Philadelphia MOVE bombing, in Los Angeles on September 18th to accept his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (Getty Images)

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John Waters Compares His Movie to the MOVE Bombing

John Waters is having quite the month.

On September 18th, Hollywood honored the trashy filmmaker with a star on its Walk of Fame. Naturally, he used the occasion of his name going on the sidewalk as an opportunity to slide in a joke about being “closer to the gutter than ever.” Womp-womp.

This weekend, he presides over the “John Waters Filthy Film Festival” at the Mahoning Drive-In. That historic site is about 90 minutes north-northwest of Philadelphia, just outside Jim Thorpe. (If you haven’t been, it’s absolutely worth the trip. Not a Waters fan? There’s a Tarantino fest next weekend.)

On Sunday, the Inquirer published a story about the John Waters Filthy Film Festival. The feature includes various quotes of Waters posturing and pontificating. Most of it was very blah blah blah. If you’ve paid any attention to Waters over the years, you realize that he sort of says the same things over and over and over again. As if he got a copy of Offensive Mad Libs in the 1970s and just keeps reusing the pages, tossing in different adjectives now and again.

But one part of the article did stand out.

Buried near the end, there’s a remark from Waters about his controversial movie Pink Flamingos. If you’ve never seen said flick, you probably don’t need to. The lead characters compete to see who is the filthiest person alive. In one infamous scene, a character eats dog feces. The film’s sole purpose is to offend. I’m pretty sure similar plot lines floated through my very stoned 16-year-old mind. The difference here is that Waters actually made a movie out of his ideas, catapulting him to cult-legend status. Bravo.

Some countries banned Pink Flamingos. Critics savaged it. So it was notable when, in 2021, the Library of Congress decided to add Pink Flamingos to the thousands of other movies on its National Film Registry. That designation doesn’t mean Pink Flamingos is “good,” by any measure. It just means Pink Flamingos is “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant,” and one could certainly make the argument that it is one or more of those things.

In the Inquirer story, Waters used the Pink Flamingos turnaround as a moment to invoke the MOVE bombing, the most tragic day in Philadelphia history. “You never know how things can change,” Waters told reporter Shaun Brady, going on to compare the addition of Pink Flamingos to the national registry to the City of Philadelphia apologizing for the MOVE bombing, which City Council did in 2020. (Yes, it took 35 years and the tumult after the murder of George Floyd for Philadelphia to apologize for bombing its own citizens and burning down a neighborhood.) “The Philadelphia government apologizing to MOVE is the only thing I can think of to compare that to. It shows you what happens if you just stick to your guns.”

Was Waters just being his provocateur self? Or was he talking out of his ass about things he doesn’t really understand? It’s unclear. And Waters didn’t respond by deadline to a request for comment. My advice, John: Stick to your hometown of Baltimore for your tragic cultural references.

A Taylor Swift-Travis Kelce Conspiracy Theory Emerges

I promise you: One day I will stop writing about the supposed romance between Pride of Berks County Taylor Swift and quarterback Travis Kelce, brother of the Eagles star. But today is not that day.

In yesterday’s column, I included a couple of jokes about the Swift-Kelce affair that I found on social media. (There are plenty to choose from.) And one was a conspiracy theory (a joking one) that Swift was doing all of this as an elaborate prank on Kelce and that she’ll soon break up with him as revenge for his team beating ours in the last Super Bowl. Amusing!

Then last night, I found a Facebook friend who is floating a not-at-all-joking conspiracy theory about Swift-Kelce. Her theory? That there’s no actual romance at all. She posits that this is all one big publicity campaign being managed by the NFL. What would be the NFL’s motive? Getting young girls to watch football, according to her.

Ridiculous? Maybe! But still fun. And could all of this lead up to Taylor Swift headlining the NFL Super Bowl Halftime Show in February? After all, she’s yet to take that stage, and if she did, she’d probably set records. Alas, according to this Cosmopolitan article, it doesn’t sound like Swift is planning on doing that anytime soon. (And, since that article came out, the NFL actually confirmed Usher as the headliner.)

One can dream.

Yet More Cheesesteak Drama

Just when I thought that I had extracted every last bit of cheesesteak drama from the city that invented the sandwich (in case you missed the previous cheesesteak drama, this article will get you up to speed), I come to learn that Pat’s Steaks owner Frank Olivieri has pulled out of a deal to open a Pat’s Steaks at Penn State with Rob Wasserman, owner of Rouge and organizer of Philly’s Burger Brawl. For more on that, go here.

Local Talent

Paramount Plus just released 72 Seconds in Rittenhouse Square, West Philly filmmaker Tigre Hill’s bound-to-be-controversial documentary about the controversial killing of developer Sean Schellenger and the controversial trial of Michael White, the young man who killed Schellenger. Hill made a big splash in 2006 with his excellent documentary The Shame of a City, which covered the chaos that was the John Street-Sam Katz mayoral battle. (Remember the infamous City Hall FBI bug?) And then came The Barrel of a Gun, his not-so-popular documentary on convicted cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal. (Philly Mag writer Jason Fagone called it “deeply, viscerally bad.”) Check out 72 Seconds in Rittenhouse Square and then let me know what you think!

By the Numbers

8: Number of giant downed wooden PECO poles that have been driving Queen Village residents crazy for way too long.

2: Bills making their way through Harrisburg that are designed to prevent ticket-selling debacles like the one that surrounded Taylor Swift’s recent shows. More than 2,000 Pennsylvania residents filed complaints with the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office about those shows. But it sounds like those bills could have some unintended consequences.

$4 million: Money that the Children’s Scholarship Fund Philadelphia is giving away to students attending tuition-based schools in the city, in $1,200 to $3,200 increments.

And from the No-Doubt Sports Desk …

The Birds looked good on their initial drive in last night’s Monday Night Football game against the Bucs, but Tampa Bay stood up tall for its home crowd and got the ball back on a fourth down at the 35. The Eagles chased down QB Baker Mayfield on the following series, and he turned it back over after three.

On the punt return, Britain Covey went a fine 52 yards to midfield. Local lad D’Andre Swift promptly got two 13-yard runs, leading to a Jake Elliott field goal. Reed Blankenship had a terrific stop on the Bucs’ next run, and on the following play, Mayfield got his ass sacked. Covey caught the 73-yard (!) punt on about the two and managed to almost get it back to the 20. A nice 16-yard pass by Jalen Hurts to DeVonta Smith got the first down, but we turned it over on downs, and the Bucs got it going early in the second quarter. A pass-interference call on Josh Jobe took them to the 16, but a Sydney Brown breakup in the end zone prevented a touchdown, and the Bucs had to kick the field goal: 3-3.

Devon Allen took the Bucs punt back to the 16, and Dallas Goedert got the first on a Hurts pass. And somehow, Hurts escaped a forest of defenders to complete a pass to Swift’s fellow St. Joe’s Prep alum, Olamide Zaccheaus, at the 35. The rowdy crowd earned a false-start call on Goedert, but Hurts made them pay by connecting with Zaccheaus in the end zone, thanks to great work by Lane Johnson: 10-3!

And an interception by Blankenship got it right back. Tush-push time! But Hurts threw an interception, after which Fletcher Cox thumped the Bucs for a 13-yard loss and rookie Jalen Carter knocked the ball out of their hands and into Blankenship’s to give it back to us, for another Elliott FG: 13-3 at the half.

In the second half, the Eagles put together a lovely opening drive and two QB sneaks for another TD. Considering that various sources were reporting that Hurts had “flu-like symptoms” before the game, I don’t think I’d have wanted to be in that pile. Still! 20-3 Birds. Who’s a real Philly guy?

D’Andre Swift broke it open again a drive later, going for 29 yards, but Landon Dickerson went down throwing him a block and headed for the med tent. Hurts aired it out to the goal line to Smith … for an interception at the one. Damn. But! A safety courtesy of Nick Morrow, who was in for injured Nakobe Dean! Take that, Bucs! And we got the ball back. A.J. Brown had a nice run at the close of the third, but the Bucs foiled a faked tush push and sacked Hurts, so Elliott notched one more: 25-3. The Birds’ D did allow a Bucs TD in the fourth quarter, plus a two-point conversion that made it a 14-point game. On the Eagles’ final drive in the fourth, a “Let’s Go Eagles” chant broke out, naturally.

“I think the scary thing for the rest of the league is that the Eagles still aren’t hitting on all cylinders,” Joe Buck declared. Final: 25-11 (for a Scorigami!), and a 3-0 start for the second straight season. Go Birds!

And the Phils?

They host the Pirates tonight for the start of the season’s final home stand, with first pitch at 6:40. If the Phillies win tonight, they clinch a playoff berth.

All Philly Today sports coverage is provided by Sandy Hingston.