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John Waters
John WatersVia Wikimedia Commons

Even John Waters wants to cancel JK Rowling

‘Give her some Preparation H for that transphobia. What’s the matter with her?’

John Waters has never been cancelled, in the contemporary sense of the word. Yes, Pink Flamingos received bans in several countries on release, and a US censor took him to court for insulting her eyes with Multiple Maniacs, but if anything these controversies only helped solidify his status as one of cinema’s seminal provocateurs. John Waters pushes the boundaries so far that he’s beyond cancellation.

Naturally, it follows that if John Waters wants you cancelled, you’ve probably done something to deserve it. According to a recent New York Times interview with the cult filmmaker, Harry Potter author and widely-accused transphobe JK Rowling is on the list. 

In case you haven’t been keeping up with news from the frontlines (AKA Twitter), Rowling has been flirting with the usual TERF talking points on the timeline for years. In 2020, a particularly controversial post saw her mock an op-ed that used the phrase “people who menstruate”, writing: “I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?” Amid widespread backlash, she only doubled down, firing off a series of tweets followed by a lengthy post on her website.

Why a once-beloved children’s author would wade into this public discourse, instead of relaxing in her £2 million mansion and enjoying the nostalgic affection she earned from millennials across the globe with books about witches and wizards, is beyond most people’s comprehension. And yet, she’s still at it. This month alone, she ‘celebrated’ International Women’s Day with a takedown of Scotland’s LGBTQ+ legislation, and responded to a post about South Wales police performing LGBTQ+ community outreach in an area where a man was murdered in a homophobic attack, by... mocking their statement about virtue signalling.

Which leads us back to John Waters and cancel culture, a topic brought up in his interview with the New York Times, to promote his debut novel, Liarmouth. “It’s a good thing we are not going retroactive here because practically every artist would be cancelled,” the filmmaker says, but doesn’t shy away from sharing his thoughts about artists ripe for cancellation today.

“I have a thing about who I would cancel: JK Rowling,” he adds. “Give her some Preparation H for that transphobia. What’s the matter with her?” 

Of course, Waters goes on to clarify that he doesn’t really want any artists to undergo censorship, adding: “There are people I would like to cancel, but at the same time I’m saying it humorously.” On the other hand, he’s all for “going further” with political correctness and enlisting “fecal flash mobs” to push for social change: “We should have fecal mobs go out and perform turd terrorism to prove that we’re serious about policing pronouns.”

Much to JK Rowling’s disappointment (presumably), John Waters opened the first gender-neutral bathrooms at the Baltimore Museum of Art last year, after requesting that the toilets were named in his honour. “When I heard the new restrooms could be remodelled for all genders, I was even more excited,” Waters explained at a ceremony with the trans activist and Pink Flamingos ‘flasher girl’ Elizabeth Coffey. “I could be part of a much-needed public elimination upgrade. Finally, we could all go to the bathroom together in full privacy. That’s what I call progress!”