Twin Peaks Usenet Archive

Subject: Re: Is Twin Peaks anti-woman? Are Twin Peaks fans?
From: (Liz Bonesteel)
Date: 1990-11-15, 13:47
Reply-to: eboneste@BBN.COM (Liz Bonesteel)

I'll start by saying that I'm not going to absolutely defend the Ms.
article;  personally, I found that some of it went too far.  But I am
somewhat distressed that there are people who seem to be contending
that there is no sexism at all on Twin Peaks.  Our entire society is
sexist; why should Twin Peaks be any different?  I am not advocating,
and shall not advocate, that Lynch/Frost change their vision simply to
please me; art is art, and they are entitled to create their own
vision and put it out in the world.  I find the vision of Twin Peaks
to be a powerful and thought-provoking one.  I criticize because for
me the essence of truly effective horror (and I think TP can be
classified as horror - or is this another debate? ;-)) is an
atmosphere that has enough identifiable with the world that I live in
to affect my perceptions of my own existence.  For me, the
stereotypical gender roles presented on the show dull some of its

In article <39597@ucbvax.BERKELEY.EDU> (Joe Buck) writes:
> >
> >the show deals extensively with the unconscious, but they aren't
> >"gifted innocents"; they are very deliberately tapping into the unconscious.

I'm not so sure of that.  David Lynch, from the interviews I've read,
strikes me as just about anything but deliberate.  He thinks
"horrifying", comes up with an image, and presents it.  I did not get
the impression that he does a lot of thinking about *why* that image
is horrifying.  In this, I'll have to agree with the article.

> >Get it: Twin Peaks is not socialist realism.  It deals with the unconscious;
> >the ones we have, not the ones we wish we had or think it would be politically
> >correct to have.  

I'm not sure what you're getting at here.  Are you saying that our
collective unconscious is sexist?  That we all take a prurient
interest in violence against women (or simply those that are

> >Twin Peaks portrays violence against women; our culture
> >contains violence against women.  

Our culture also contains violence against men, children, the elderly,
and people of non-white ethnic groups.  Violence against women is a
terrible social problem (why it has yet to be classified as a hate
crime is beyond me), but I see it disproportionately represented on

In defense of Twin Peaks, it began well on this front.  Yes, our
victim was female; but we experienced the trauma of her death without
actually having to watch her suffer and die.  I still think one of the
most powerful images the show has presented was in the pilot, when
Sarah finds out *over the phone* that her daughter is dead.  There was
something incredibly poignant about that shot of the phone receiver,
transmitting the sound of her sobs.

> >I would prefer that violence be depicted
> >as Twin Peaks does it, with all the horror that that violence really has,
> >than in the sanitized form that the rest of the media portrays it in

A point perhaps; but surely the scenes of violence have been some of
the best photographed of the series.  I watched Maddie's murder from
beginning to end, absolutely enthralled, even as I was horrified.  Is
this any less reprehensible than the sanitized quasi-killings that
populate shows like "Hunter" and "Miami Vice"?

>> >> Leading the bordello where all these high school girls have their after-
>> >> school jobs is Blackie, a creature of smoothly amoral collarbones if
>> >> ever there was one.
> >
> >Of course in real life there are no madams.

This is probably a fair shot.  (I kind of liked Blackie, myself, at
least until she turned out to be dependent on Jerry Horne; a truly
nasty, unpleasant person.) But my understanding is that most pimps are
men.  I personally don't have any problems with the character of
Blackie, but if she was meant to be a realistic character I'd be

(I can't believe I'm arguing about "realistic" characters on Twin

>> >> Audrey is so sexually advanced that she's 18 going on 40.
> >
> >Say what?  I can almost guarantee you that Audrey is a virgin.

I agree with this, too.  Audrey is my favorite character.  BUT she is
stereotypical, in that she uses her sexual precocity (whether or not
she is a virgin, she certainly knows what she's working with) as a
weapon against men.  I personally have encountered a number of men who
have attributed to deliberate manipulation what is nothing but simple
friendliness.  In this, I see Audrey as a sort of fantasy character;
if she is a virgin (and I believe she is), she is truly a madonna/
whore.  She is also one of the most complex and well-developed
characters on the show, so it's hard for me to criticize her with any

Jury's still out on Audrey.  If she lets Coop turn her into mush, I
will stop watching the show.

>> >> Is anyone vaguely
>> >> in charge of herself, not a victim, crazy, and not corrupt?
> >
> >Sure.  Norma, Donna, Audrey (yes, I know she needed to be resued, but
> >then so did Cooper and Truman).

Norma, yes.  Donna roams off on her own, does something stupid, and
then relies on James to get her out of it.  Her life currently
revolves around a man.  As for Audrey - well, considering her family
history (one thinks that her mother must have been somewhat allright,
or she'd be a total loss), I can't really blame her for being
confused; but since very early on everything she's done has been to
gain the notice/approval of Cooper.  She may be in control of her
actions, but she's hardly in control of her life.

> >But you see, Twin Peaks is about archetypes; Maddie gets
> >to play an archetype, as do a number of the other characters.  Ben is
> >just as one-dimensional playing Corrupt Businessman.

Ben is your average corrupt businessman?  You must have hit some
reeeeeel bad folks out there, Joe! ;-)

> >Seems to me we've seen quite a lot of Donna.  I think part of the
> >underdevelopment is that Lara Flynn Boyle's acting is kind of flat
> >and wooden.

I'll agree with you there.

>> >>  It is Peggy Lipton's
>> >> Norma who must finally bear the burden of being the only adult woman in
>> >> the series who is strong so far, nobody's fool, and only one man's victim."
> >
> >Oh, please.  Catherine and Josie also fit into this category.  

Catherine I'll have to see about.  She certainly let a little
afternoon delight cloud her perceptions (but then, I suppose, so has
Harry).  But Josie plays the little girl too much for me.  

Here's a question:  Don't men ever get pissed off at being portrayed
as so vulnerable to the attentions of an attractive woman?  I mean,
for God's sake, it's as bad as those commercials where a guy can't
even cope with putting a shirt in the laundry by himself.  Is there
any *man* out there who has been annoyed by images of men in Twin
Peaks?  (Harry, for example, pisses me off to no end.) Stereotyping
generally goes both ways.


I feel better than James Brown.
		- Was (Not Was)