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John Waters tells college grads to 'use tech for transgression'

"The Prince of Puke" encourages Rhode Island School of Design's class of 2015 to shake things up, "horrify us with new ideas" and make him nervous. Plus, he gives a nod to hackers.

John Waters encourages grads to disturb society. Video screenshot by Bonnie Burton/CNET

Director, author and visual artist John Waters could teach a master class in shock value as a way to succeed in the entertainment industry. His films "Pink Flamingos," "Female Trouble" and "Desperate Living" -- also coined as the "Trash Trilogy" -- pushed the boundaries of taste in cinema to its limits. After all, he convinced his muse and friend, drag queen icon Divine, to eat dog poo on film.

His later films "Polyester," "Cry Baby," "Hairspray" and "Serial Mom" launched Waters into mainstream fame, where he remains today.

But the outspoken filmmaker also makes a living entertaining fans with spoken-word shows full of useful advice like reminders not to sleep with people who don't own books and, "If you're not sure you could love your children, please don't have them, because they might grow up and kill us."

So it makes sense that the hilarious movie maker gave the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) class of 2015 its commencement speech late last month. This is the same school that not only gave Waters an honorary degree but also awarded one to geek author William Gibson.

Before the speech even began, Waters reminded graduates that he was suspended from high school, kicked out of college, arrested several times, built a career out of bad reviews and was labeled "The Prince of Puke" by the press.

But in a way, that just makes Waters more qualified to tell college graduates to try new things and never fear rejection, and why it's up to them to shake things up.

"Keep up with what's causing chaos in your own field," Waters encourages the graduates. "Read! Read! Read! Watch people on the street, spy, be nosy, eavesdrop."

Even hackers get a thumbs-up from the director. "Never be like some of my generation who say, 'We had more fun in the '60s.' No we didn't. The kids today who still live with their parents...are having just as much fun shutting down the government of foreign countries on their computer as we did banning the bomb."

"You need to prepare sneak attacks on society," Waters tells the graduates. Using his film "Hairspray" as an example of how creative ideas can be used in the form of a Trojan horse, Waters reminds the graduates that his movie, which includes potentially sensitive themes of racism and homoeroticism, is now often performed as a musical at various high schools around the country.

Most importantly, Waters reminds graduates to go out and "horrify us with new ideas; outrage outdated critics; and use technology for transgression, not lazy social living; make me nervous!"