The film that launched John Waters as the world's leading authority on bad taste, Pink Flamingos is a 1972 transgressive comedy starring Divine, David Lochary, Mink Stole, Edith Massey, Danny Mills, and Mary Vivian Pearce. It follows the adventures of Divine (living under the alias of Babs Johnson), a fat, style-obsessed criminal who lives in a trailer with her mentally ill mother Edie, her delinquent son Crackers, and her traveling companion Cotton. Divine, however, is furious when a pair of perverts, Raymond and Connie Marble, try to steal her title of "filthiest person alive." Played for Laughs.
"The Filthiest Tropes Alive!":
- Accomplice by Inaction: The three tabloid reporters certainly could have stopped Divine's assassination of the Marbles, or at least called the police. However, considering what happened to the last group of cops that were called to the trailer (and the fact that Divine threatens to kill and eat one reporter's wife and child if he doesn't report the execution), it was probably the best option not to do anything. Not that they seem too horrified by it.
- Actor/Role Confusion: Of sorts. Babs is the "Filthiest Person in the World", but at the conclusion, the narration states Divine is the Filthiest Person in the World, and eats dogshit to prove it.
- This is amplified by John Waters' own book, Shock Value, in which he exclusively calls the character Divine instead of Babs.
- Asshole Victim: Babs' sentences the Marbles to death for "asshole-ism".
- Berserk Button: Despite being the filthiest person alive, the Marbles sending Babs a turd is the last straw.Babs: This is a direct attack on my divinity, a direct attack on the peace and harmony of our last few weeks here an outrageous attempt to humiliate and disgrace my private life! Someone will pay for this!
- Black Comedy Rape: Hold them goddamn chickens!
- Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Cotton (blonde), Crackers (brunet) and Divine (redhead).
- Broke the Rating Scale: Roger Ebert refused to give the film any stars on the grounds that he wasn't sure it counted as a film.Ebert: Note: I am not giving a star rating to Pink Flamingos, because stars simply seem not to apply. It should be considered not as a film but as a fact, or perhaps as an object.
- Card-Carrying Villain: Divine is extremely proud of being called "The Filthiest Person Alive".
- Chewbacca Defense: "Is there any cross-examination? No? A very strange defense, I must say. Gentlemen, the verdict is guilty on all ten counts of first-degree stupidity."
- Cloudcuckoolander: Edie. Also Channing to some extent.
- Dirty Coward: The Marbles are totally helpless the moment Divine, Crackers, and Cotton barge into their home out of revenge for burning down Divine's trailer and they try to get away with it by lying, saying they've got the wrong people. Of course, it doesn't work.
- Drag Queen: Channing. Also the actor, but not the character, Divine.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Divine seems disturbed by the plight of the girls kept in the Marbles' cellar.
- Evil vs. Evil: Neither Babs or the Marble's could be ever considered "good" people. Between Babs and her family's exploits and the Marble's illegal baby ring, it's hard to decide who is the more "moral" of the two.
- Explicit Content: All of the sex, including chicken rape, is unsimulated. It isn't exactly sexy to most people.
- Fetish: Cotton is a voyeur, Crackers loves chickens, and let's not get started on Raymond and Connie.
- Foreshadowing: There are several allusions to eating shit before someone actually does it.
- A God Am I:Mr. Vader: Do you believe in God?
Divine: I AM GOD!
- Gorn: The executions of Connie and Raymond, the real death of a chicken and the brutal murder/cannibalization of a group of local law enforcement.
- Groin Attack: "He's been...CASTRATED. His penis is GONE."
- Gross-Up Close-Up: The singing asshole, among others. Hope you like nice close-up shots of an anus!
- Grossout Show
- I'm a Humanitarian: What is done to the policemen who get called to Divine's house and eventually murdered.
- Kangaroo Court: Described as such. Connie and Raymond are sentenced to death for simply being assholes.
- Karma Houdini: Cookie is not punished for her part in the scheming against Divine. In a deleted scene, however, she is shot and has her ear chewed off by Crackers.
- Lady in Red: Divine! Played With a bit, she is definitely dressed for attention, but many might argue how well she fits the traditional Lady in Red.
- Literal Metaphor: You never thought "shit eating grin" would become one, huh?
- Masochist's Meal: Dog feces. They fed the poodle on steak for three days beforehand.
- Narrator: John Waters himself.
- Noodle Incident: After assassinating the Marbles, Divine and Company decide where to hide out next.Cotton: Let's move to Boise, I always wanted to go there!
Babs Johnson: Boise, Cotton? Why, that might not be a bad place!
Crackers: Were you ever there?
Cotton: Only once, we robbed a transit bus there, remember?
Babs Johnson: I remember, the number 42!
- "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer: Before the final scene, the narrator exclaims, "What you are about to see is a real thing." Even though everything that preceded it (except for the murders) was, too.
- Parental Incest: "Oh, Crackers, prepare to receive the most divine gift a mother can give!""Do my balls, mama!"
- Plot Hole:
- The Marbles sending the gift to Babs is "Phase one" of their plan. The attack on the trailer is "Phase three". There is no phase two.
- There is a phase two; the Marbles go to Divine's home and torment her mother, dressing her like a baby and breaking all of her eggs. The scene was cut due to a continuity error, as they forgot part of Edie's baby outfit when they filmed Divine finding her mom.
- Another plot hole is how they find out the home and identity of the Marbles; while they are tormenting Divine's mother, Divine and Crackers visits Patty Hitler and get the intel. The scene with Patty Hitler was filmed but cut from the final version of the film, replaced with a vague narration bit.
- Despite the fact that the Johnson family does not have an address and are sufficiently isolated to consider the arrival of a postal carrier suspicious, they are on the route of an egg delivery person. There are hints that he only goes out there due to a personal attraction to Edie.
- Police Are Useless: The Marbles call the cops on the Johnson's party. The guests promptly murder and eat them.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Connie and Raymond. Almost literally, considering their hair colors.
- Rich Bitch: Connie Marble's illegal baby ring apparently does good business with Baltimore's lesbian community.
- Road Apples: "Someone has sent me a bowel movement."
- Scenery Gorn: Many, many scenes of the trailer burning.
- Serial Escalation: To say that it pushes the limits of bad taste is an understatement.
- The actual production of the film counts, as well, as everything you see in the movie actually happened. Unsimulated. Except for the (human) deaths, of course.
- In Waters' stand-up special, This Filthy World, he claimed that he showed the film to a group of prisoners when he was teaching a class in prison (emphasizing that many of them were murderers), and they all declared it one of the sickest things they'd ever been exposed to.
- Skewed Priorities: Despite kidnapping and forcefully impregnating girls, illegal baby ring operators Connie and Raymond Marble are horrified by the drinking, drug using and lewd but harmless behavior of the guests at Divine's birthday party.
- The narrator is upset that Raymond not only exposes himself to women but makes his wife wait in the car while doing so.
- Slobs Versus Snobs: Divine and her family live in a trailer home while the Marbles are rich bourgeoisies.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: Patti Page's "How Much Is That Doggie in the Window" plays while Divine eats dog shit. Yeah, the song is about a dog, but it's a cutesy '50s pop hit.
- Tabloid Melodrama: Completely subverted as both Divine and the Marbles strive to be featured in the tabloid press—Divine in fact invites three tabloid reporters to witness the trial and execution of the Marbles.
- Tagline: "An exercise in poor taste."
- Tar and Feathers: Connie and Raymond are tarred and feathered before getting shot by Divine.
- There Are No Police:
- There Are Two Kinds of People in the World: Connie Marble, to Miss Sandstone after rejecting her:Connie: "I guess there's just two kinds of people, Miss Sandstone: MY kind of people, and assholes. It's rather obvious which category you fit into. Have a nice day."
- Laser-Guided Karma: Babs executes her for being an asshole.
- Those Wacky Nazis: Patty Hitler, a character who didn't make the final cut of the film, although she can be seen as a party guest.
- Torture Cellar: The Marbles kidnap young women, lock them up in their basement, have Channing impregnate them, and sell the babies to lesbian couples.
- Torture Porn: Supposed to be a disturbingly funny parody.
- Trademark Favorite Food: Edie and eggs. She loves them so much, she eventually marries the person that delivers eggs to her.
- Trailers Always Spoil: Which is why it is defied in this official trailer that was used to promote the movie.
- Two Decades Behind: The female characters wear tacky Fifties-style dresses (that reportedly came from trash bins outside the Baltimore Salvation Army).
- Unsettling Gender-Reveal: One of the women that Raymond exposes his penis to flashes hers back.
- Villain Protagonist: Divine. Of course, with their sex slave ring, which they use to sell babies to lesbian couples, and the fact that the money they get is used to sell illicit drugs to inner-city grade schoolers, the Marbles (the main antagonists) are MUCH worse as villains, which is why Divine feels justified in killing them for first-degree stupidity and assholism.
- Villains Out Shopping: The trip to the butcher shop.
- Vulgar Humor: The "Filth Politics" speech .Reporter: Divine, are you a lesbian?
Babs: Yes, I have done everything!
Reporter: Does blood turn you on?
Babs: It does more than turn me on, Mr. Vader, it makes me cum! And more than the sight of it, I love the taste of it, the taste of hot freshly killed blood!
Reporter: Could you give us some of your political beliefs?
Babs: Kill everyone now! Condone first degree murder! Advocate cannibalism! Eat shit! Filth are my politics, filth is my life!
- "World's Best" Character: Divine is very proud of her title of "filthiest person alive". Raymond and Connie want the title for themselves, which leads to an escalating conflict between them and Divine.
- World of Ham: Every major character, except the reporters, has tons of fun Chewing the Scenery. Divine trumps them all, though.Divine: [Blood] does MORE than turn me on, Mr. Vader! It makes me CUM!