John Waters’ Commencement Address To Rhode Island School Of Design

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“Prepare Sneak Attacks On SocietyYou need to prepare sneak attacks on society,” Waters says. “Hairspray is the only really devious movie I ever made.” He then points out that although the musical based on the film is now regularly performed in every high school in America, “it’s a show with two men singing a love song to each other that also encourages white teen girls to date black guys. …Hairspray is a Trojan horse—it snuck into Middle America and never got caught. You can do the same thing.”

Wreck What Came Before

“Contemporary art’s job is to wreck what came before,” Waters says. “Is there a better job description than that to aspire to? Go out in the world and fuck it up beautifully. Horrify us with new ideas. Outrage outdated critics. Use technology for transgression, not lazy social living. It’s your turn to cause trouble—but this time in the real world, and this time from the inside.”

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