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Pecker a 1998   "R" rated movie on New Line Home Video. 

The 1970's Photog had Blow Up

The new Millennium Photog has Pecker

If you love Photography, go get Pecker... I mean rent Pecker.....eh..... I mean the video Pecker.....no...it's not that kind of movie...though it does have some not so PG moments.....

Pecker should be required viewing for adult Photography 101 classes -- no I am not kidding.   

Just beneath its  comic, irreverent, and often strange surface, are many serious and important  Photographic issues. 

Whatever your view,  exploring them will probably help your photography and your vision.

Pecker is the story of an American teenage photographer from a working class background  who  becomes "famous,"  only to discover that fame and art have their price.  Is fame worth it?  Is it always deserved?     Pecker  is a lighthearted and often strange comedy, but just under the surface are many issues which merit a Photog's attention.   By the way, Pecker  is the nickname of the aspiring Photog -- given to him by a not so enlightened family from his habit of "pecking" at his food as a child.   An offbeat 1988 comedy written and directed by John Waters, starring Edward Furlong as Pecker and Christina Ricci as his not so silent suffering girl friend.

Pecker uses an outdated 1970's 35mm film rangefinder which  seems to take about 300 shots without   reloading -- a 1971 Canonet 28 with 40/2.8 lens with programmed AE exposure only -- that he got for free from  his mom's thrift store.  The point, an important one, is that people care about your pictures, not your camera.    I once knew a photographer who regularly sold $5000-6000 of her pictures every week.  She didn't know a f/stop from a bus stop.  Makes you think, doesn't it?

Another shot is a not so flattering look at the rich and often superficial Art Gallery crowd who bought Pecker's works at exorbitant prices - - until   his camera is turned on them.  Alas, artists can't survive without their patron's  money, but we don't have to like them.

Be forewarned that this is an off beat comedy with sexual overtones but not graphic sex...probably not something to watch with the kids.  Hmm..    maybe that is why it got the R rating.  In some ways, Pecker is a lightweight "Rocky Horror Show" for photographers.    

Some of Peckers more memorable quotes and issues:


"I love you more than Kodak!"   I guess it was true love


"They really are something special,  Pecker is like a humane Diane Arbus."  "But with a wonderful streak of kindness."

ah yes, to be compared to the greats, a sure sign someone wants to make money on you.


"Without you my work is shit."

"I don't understand that Art crap." 

"You could if you just open your eyes.  It's what you see every day.   Let your mind go and you will be free forever."

every artist needs their Dulcinea, and has the innate need to explain themselves


"Stop taking my picture Pecker, you are ruining my life."      "Sorry, I thought I was making your life better."

alas, the difference between the artist's intention and the subject's reality


"Pecker, your picture, see what they've done.  They have ruined my miracle"

Art is not always good, the laments of Pecker's grandmother Mi Mama after being lambasted for her talking Mother Mary.


"How can you be so kind and gentle and still have talent?"

spoken like a true gallery owner


"I hate modern Photography!"

not unheard of sentiments


"You're not supposed to have sex with the people you are trying to help."

someone should have explained this to Monica


"I want my friends and I want my family and I want my career back."

the artist chooses his values over Art


   "I thought you like it when I stole."

spoken by a contrived thief in Pecker's pics, to an Art critic who is about to be over charged to visit Pecker's photo exhibition....seems that irony is not lost after all.


"Thanks to my little sister Chrissy for teaching me life is nothing if you are not obsessed."

a great line.    without passion, obsession, what is life?   Chrissy's obsession with sugar makes Hannibal's obsession in Silence of the Lambs look like a passing fancy.


"Pecker's delicious photographs of his culturally challenged family."

ah yes, the superior attitude of the "I'm so smart" photography critic


"pubic hair causes crime"

and many other things


"What they call Art in New York looks like plain misery to me."

The Emperor's Clothes strikes again.   The art gallery scene, complete with the rich trying to be cool and trendy by buying the latest artist of the moment, is a great scene, all too true and all too funny.


"Pecker sees art from the outside looking in, if you look you will see it too.  Just open your eyes"

art is where you find it, or see it, or make it, or hope it will be.


"Your pictures are sublime."  "Well thanks,  if I knew how to make them any better, they probably wouldn't work at all."

This reminds me of the story about the photographer who for years happily took pictures of his family and surroundings -- always being told how beautiful his pic were and how gifted a photog  he was.   At last he built up the courage take his pics to photo galleries and photography reps.    They were unanimous, his pics weren't good enough, interesting enough to be of any value.    Crestfallen, he returned home with his new knowledge.    Realizing that he didn't know what he was doing and he wasn't talented enough, he put his camera and pictures away so not to embarrass himself and stopped taking pictures.    Before visiting the professionals, he was didn't know his pictures were so bad -- all he had to go on was his friends and family who loved them.      A famous literary story is very similar.   He became famous after his death, and has been published ever since.  You might have heard of him,  Franz Kafka.  

Art is a mystery, even to the artist -- that's why so much crap is sold as art.  In today's upside down world of hype and media and personalities, it is frequently not the best in the Art world, but the boldest and brashest that get the recognition and the big bucks -- or the one with the best agent.  If you have a vision, pursue it and make it happen, and to hell with what anyone else thinks.

About the only part of the movie I didn't like was Pecker's photo coverage of  two strip bars.    Yet it is another photography analogy.     As photographers we can neither create or control the world, but hopefully we can record it -- in all its variety.

If you like Photography, see Pecker.   

Pecker feedback

"Loved your review on "Pecker." It is truly unfortunate hype and advertising skews what contemporary artwork emerges as 'great.' "

'Thanks a bunch for your review of "Pecker." I hadn't heard much about it until reading your review, after which I went out and rented it. I loved it.   

 Your comments are right on the mark. This is a movie that operates on so many levels, while being thoroughly enjoyable to watch."

"I enjoyed and pretty much agree with your editorial comments regarding Art, what makes a good
photographer, current trends in cameras, gallery experiences, etc.   Only problem is I didn't find Pecker in the local Video store. And I can't call around town, because I  don't know how to ask for it without sounding like a crank caller."

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Revised: February 05, 2017 Copyright � 1998-2002  Stephen Gandy. All rights reserved.    This means you may NOT copy and re-use the text or the pictures in ANY other internet or printed publication of ANY kind.  Information in this document is subject to change without notice.  Other products and companies referred to herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies or mark holders.