David Simon to Present Writers Guild Awards Honor to Fellow Baltimorean Icon, John Waters


One of Baltimore’s most influential cultural voices will be presenting an award to another at the upcoming Writers’ Guild Awards: Variety has announced that not only will John Waters be receiving the career-honoring Ian McLellan Hunter Award, but that it’ll be given to him by The Wire creator David Simon. (Simon, himself, formerly received the award.)

Though the actual ceremony isn’t until February 19, 2017, Simon’s already giving previews into the ways he can sing the praises of his fellow, deeply influential Baltimorean. He said in a statement:

The metropolis of Baltimore, Maryland contains multitudes: The stolid rowhouse folk of Mencken’s Heathen Days; the post-Yiddishe wit of Barry Levinson’s assimilating Diner guys; Anne Tyler’s hermetic yet idiosyncratic Roland Park; Laura Lippman’s crime narratives of Bawlmer women and their carried secrets; The Wire’s inverse economies of the city’s poorest and most vulnerable…But only John Waters has made being not right, not normal, not ordinary, nor expected seem so, well, Baltimore.

Waters, of course, is one of the most radical visionaries of queer cinema, reveling in a celebration of camp and “filth,” appalling and captivating a tentatively onlooking mainstream that, less than a decade prior to films like Pink Flamingos (1972), saw onscreen married couples sleeping in separate beds. He most always situated (I use the past tense, because his moviemaking days may very well be over) his stories in Baltimore, and his filmography is also a love letter to his city. Simon’s statement continues:

Time and again, on film and in prose and eventually on Broadway, [Waters] has celebrated the very American notion that there is, in fact, no normal. That we are all, if we are honest, at least two standard deviations from the mean. In Baltimore, it is our goddamn birthright. I’ve shared my crew with this man. I’ve shared some cast, at points. I’ve shared some meals and jokes and the very real benefit of his having been a pioneer for a film community that has punched well beyond its weight class. But most of all, like damn near every Baltimorean, I am proud that I share a city with this fine storyteller.

Meanwhile, John Waters’ own statement is more — expectedly and delightfully — irreverent:

Decades ago, a critic once wrote that my screenplays were merely clotheslines to hang out my dirty wash.’…I’m glad the WGAE disagrees — or maybe they DO agree, who knows? Either way, I couldn’t be more honored and excited to get this award.