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MIT student blogger Abby H. '20

I Met John Waters by Abby H. '20

This beautiful mobile home you see before you is the current hideout of the notorious beauty Divine, the filthiest person alive!

On Monday night, instead of studying for finals, I went to church.

The First Parish in Cambridge hosted a Q&A book-signing with cult star and cultural icon John Waters. I love his movies and what he’s done for Weird Culture, so of course I had to go.

blurry and far away

He was full of great one-liners and aphorisms, but one that stuck out to me was this, paraphrased:

Baltimore is better than ever. You should all move there. It’s great that you don’t have to move to New York or LA to be a star anymore. You can stay in your home town and make it big. And it looks like people understand that now: my audience in Des Moines looks the same as my audience in Paris.

As this is a college admissions blog, I’m gonna extend this a bit to rant about this pervasive idea that you have to go to an Ivy or a Stanford or an MIT in order to become something. In this day and age, this is far from the truth. You can go to a state school and thrive! You can go to a community college and thrive! A lot of people just don’t go to college at all and yet they thrive! Barriers are breaking down, and suddenly you can find every kind of people in every kind of place. This whole college admissions game is so contrived. Each year it just gets more stressful and selective for the poor kids who go through these cycles. Don’t get me wrong; I am glad that I go to MIT. There are so many resources here that I would have to fight for if I had gone to school back home. I’ve learned so much about the world here. Nevertheless, I cringe a little when a nerdy movie character is introduced as having gone to MIT. These top universities have become punchlines that obscure the unhealthy obsession we have with them. These aren’t radical new opinions; I’m just trying to plant a little seed of doubt in the minds of kids reading this who want to go to Harvard just because it’s the most prestigious school in the world. Harvard is a meme. Harvard is camp.

Back to the actual topic of this post: I met John Waters! He said that I was the youngest person there, but I assured him that I am just 21 years old with a baby face and short legs, and there was likely a younger, older-looking person there. At least I hope so. I don’t like being called an old soul. Here’s a series of photos in which I explain that:

me looking at John Waters
me explaining to John Waters that I am old in a young body
this is the one that I sent to my mom

I’ve never been to a book signing before, but imagine my surprise when he signed my book. 10/10 experience; would do again. John Waters is a pleasant guy.

the signed title page of my John Waters book