Waters' love for the deviant, dispossessed and dangerous infuses his writing, his speaking, his art collection, even the decoration of his tastefully appointed home. However, while it's tempting to see Cecil B. -- a wild-eyed cinema purist who detests all the cheap sentiment, overproduced commercialism and hyper-marketed trash that Hollywood stands for -- as his alter-ego, Waters insists that he doesn't share Cecil's righteous rage. He has profited too well by skirting Hollywood's periphery. And let's face it, when the Farrelly brothers are making it their business to set the bar on tasteless humor ever lower, what once outraged Waters' critics now looks downright quaint.
"I don't have great anger about Hollywood," Waters says. "I mean, my films are better sold in the independent world, they know how to market them better. But I can't be a hypocrite. I bought this house because of 'Cry Baby,' a Hollywood movie, certainly not with the profits from 'Pink Flamingos.' "
Waters is even quick to debunk the persona of uncompromising artist that has made him a hero to generations of young filmmakers. Even though Cecil rails against a system that compulsively test-markets and tracks movies like so much product on the supermarket shelves, Waters happily works within the system that he's skewering. "I've never had final cut in my contract, ever," he says, referring to a clause guaranteeing the director final say in what his movie will look like when it's released. "[But] I can negotiate my way to getting the film out the way I want it."
Finally, that's all Waters -- or any director -- owes his audience: to make the films he wants to make, with some modicum of honesty and integrity, in a reasonable amount of time for reasonable amounts of money, thereby affording himself the opportunity to make more films he wants to make.
The rest of us are free to take him or leave him. I'll continue to do both, remaining grateful that there is room in the world for John Waters, even if I don't have his name tattooed on my back.