Twin Peaks Usenet Archive

Subject: Is David Lynch creepy?
From: jds@sppy00.UUCP (SOUTHERN JAMES D)
Date: 1991-01-14, 13:26

The following article appeared in the Jan./Feb. 1991 edition of the Utne
Reader. This magazine provides an excellent overview of the plethora of
alternative magazines that are currently available. It is being published
without the permission of the Utne Reader.


Is David Lynch Creepier Than His Movies?

  David Lynch, whose strange imagination is behind the dark, disturbing film
BLUE VELVET, the much-lauded television show TWIN PEAKS, and the bizarre 
Cannes film festival winner WILD AT HEART, has been widely praised as one of 
the era's most gifted directors-a creative genius whose inimitable surrealist
style makes him the reigning leader of intellectual, avant-garde filmmaking.

  Lynch is know for his dreamlike manipulation of images and for what the
right-wing NATIONAL REVIEW (Oct. 1, 1990) lists as his trademark themes:
death, violence, mutilation, deformity, sex, kinkiness, and secret traumas.
In his most recent works, Lynch takes the viewer into what he calls the
"dark underside of middle America," where nothing is quite as it seems:
Middle-class college boy finds a human ear and somehow gets mixed up with 
the victim of a psychotic rapist-both of them from the wrong side of the 
tracks (BLUE VELVET); a picturesque small town is plaqued by seductive women,
wife-beaters, and the murder of a homecoming queen with mysterious 
connections to the drug world (TWIN PEAKS); the innocent love of a young 
couple is threatened by an evil, deranged mother and white-trash killers 

  So far Lynch has enjoyed a barrage of favorable media attention and the
cultlike adoration of white, "hip", college-educated people who normally
shun anything as lowbrow as television but tune in religiously to TWIN PEAKS.
Why would an upper middle-class audience develop such a fascination with a 
troubled, shocking world so different from their own? Stuart Klawans, writing
in THE NATION (Sept. 17, 1990), points out the irony in Lynch's voyuerism and
the audience for whom it is intended: "The poor get locked out of their jobs,
get tossed out of their homes, get shot by stray bullets at the rate of once
a day; and the college-educated play at wanting to be disturbed."

  Fans aren't the only ones raging over Lynch. Some critics see his work as
misogynist, elitist and racist and believe his admittedly conservative politics
are somehow connected. The principal charge against Lynch is glamarization of
sexual violence. As feminist film critic Kathi Maio points out in Ms.
(Sept./Oct. 1990), Lynch has a disturbing habit of casting women as victims in
sadomasochistic scenarios. Consider that most female characters on TWIN PEAKS
are beautiful, "promiscuous" young women who are routinely murdered, tortured,
beaten, and manipulated by men, while the rest of the women are depicted as
old and mentally ill. Critic Tony Alterman, writing in the radical newspaper 
THE GUARDIAN (Sept. 12, 1990), charges Lynch with presenting the dangerous
idea that rape can be sexy in a particularly offensive scene in WILD AT HEART.
Perhaps more disturbing than any Lynch film is his explanation of Dorothy, the
passive victim of sexual, physical, and psychological abuse in BLUE VELVET. 
In an interview in the British magazine BLITZ (Aug. 1990), Lynch says: "There 
are some women that you want to hit because you're getting a feeling from them
that they want it, or maybe they upset you in a certain way. I see this 
happening. But I don't really understand it."

  The personal politics of any creative artist have a way of creeping into
the art, and Lynch is no exception. His adoration of Ronald Reagan is no 
secret, and, according to Judith Lewis of the Minneapolis alternative weekly
CITY PAGES (Aug. 15, 1990), Lynch "misses the '50s, deifies Elvis Presley,
and loves all things American." Yet in an interview, Lynch is unable to 
account for the contents of his work, unwilling to explain how his personal
views fit into his films or TWIN PEAKS. Lewis is just one critic who has a 
hunch. She writes: "The demons in Lynch's imagination jibe well with 
neo-conservative paranoia, from the war on drugs to the fear of black folk
(unless they work in your dad's hardware store, as they do in BLUE VELVET) and
the danger of seductive women. In every film, his criminals are poor white
trash types who must be eliminated-never understood-before the world can
be put back in order."

  What David Lynch does know is that he is afraid. As he admitted to 
ROLLING STONE (Sept. 6, 1990), he's afraid that "so many people are 
participating in strange and horrible things-you begin to worry that the 
peaceful, happy life could vanish or be threatened." And who wouldn't be 
afraid? Real-life stories of violence, rape, psychotic killings, sexual
perversities, and other heinous crimes permeate the headlines daily. 
Strangely enough, they never attract any real, root-cause examination in
Lynch's work.

  Lynch's success has been explained as a talent for dipping into the 
collective unconscious. What else can explain why so many have so 
suddenly become so enthralled with a world where everyone is abnormal, 
where everyone is handicapped, mentally or physically, where violence and
rape are everyday occurrences? Media scholars constantly debate whether
film and television are reflections of society or forces shaping it. 
Either way, when someone like David Lynch becomes a popular icon, his 
anti-female, anti-minority, anti-poor folks, avant-garde fantasy world
becomes truely frightening. Then again, as Ella Taylor of LA WEEKLY 
(Aug. 17, 1990) points out, "Maybe we should be grateful that Lynch
empties the contents of his murky, endlessly inventive head into film
and not into public office."


Jim Southern
Workstation Products Development
OCLC, Inc.
Dublin, Ohio 43017