Desperate Living is one of John Waters’ 70s camp masterpiece along with Pink Flamingos and Female Trouble, in which he attacks the conventions of hollywood genre. Set in the 1960s when hippy culture was at its height, Desperate Living attacks fascism that prevailed throughout America. Throughout the movie, which features the story of a petit bourgeois white woman and her black maid who run away to Mortville, the grotesque taste of Waters can be seen. The portraits of Hitler and Idi Amin in the house of the queen of Mortville are direct metaphors for despotism. Filled with B-movie spirit, Waters features shocking images of perverts, lesbian sex, and transsexuals. The acting and dialogues of Waters’ films have always been exaggerated. Likewise, Desperate Living is far from seriousness, and is exaggerated in every aspect, which induces laughter. Uniquely though, this is the only 1970s Waters film that lacks the irreplaceable drag persona Devine.
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