That Gum You Like
Let me start by saying that I’m sorry if you were scared by last week’s entry. I just want to state, unequivocally, that I’m feeling very well these days. I intended that entry to be a celebration of my progress over the course of the last few months. Some of you read it as a cry for help and I am sorry if you were scared. Please don’t be. I feel great.
Also, some very minor spoilers below regarding the Twin Peaks revival. You’ve been warned!
I am a fan of horror movies. I really like them. I especially like the ones where you’re kept guessing...the ones that really make you think. One of my favorites of the recent past is It Follows. If you haven’t seen it, and you have any interest in horror films (which I acknowledge are not for everyone), I highly recommend it. I believe my original interest in horror think pieces originated with David Lynch’s television series, Twin Peaks. It’s back in the news right now because its “revival” aired on Showtime last night. I’ve been waiting 18 years for this revival (the original series was cancelled before things could be resolved) and those who watched it when it first aired have been waiting 26 years. I’m obviously not alone in my love of this series. It’s a cult favorite. For me, it will always stand out as the first truly fascinating television series that I loved. I collected lots of strange Twin Peaks memorabilia on eBay and still have most of it in a box somewhere. I read Twin Peaks fan fiction back when it was published on websites hosted on geocities, with strange, tinny MIDI music playing (Angelo Badalamenti-style) and a rippling red curtain superimposed on the background. Anyway, I’m an old fan.
Last night, I stayed up past my usual 9:00pm bedtime to watch the revival. I’d already secured my Showtime subscription through Amazon the day before. For the most part, I really liked it. It answered some of the remaining questions from the original series, asked many more new ones, and doubled-down on the Lynchian weirdness that has come to be a trademark of the director’s work. Kyle MacLachlan still seems truly to be Special Agent Dale Cooper and it is fascinating to watch him play his own evil twin. Even in a bad wig.
What I found less compelling, though, and was surprised to feel so angry about, was the abject violence toward women that Evil Cooper committed so wantonly in the first two episodes. Of course, we need to understand that he is, indeed, evil and not just in a wearing-all-black-leather-and-a-silly-wig way. Lynch has never shied away from making women the object of violence and cruelty in his work (Blue Velvet is, perhaps, the most egregious but it appears in all his work). In fact, women have much higher body counts in nearly all horror.
They are either virgins or whores and they are all dead or tortured or both. Lynch follows this same pattern. However, watching it last night made my stomach turn in a way it never has before. As I said, I’m a fan of Lynch’s and I’ve seen what he does to women characters. Twin Peaks begins, famously, with a dead teenage girl washing up on the shore of a river. Still, something about this violence felt not just antiquated but unnecessary. We already know that Evil Cooper is no good. We hate him for stealing the place of the beloved, gentle, always-good Special Agent Dale Cooper (still trapped in the lodge with a bunch of dead folks and a white horse).
Maybe I’m getting old. Maybe Lynch is. Either way, I found my enjoyment of this long-awaited revival was tempered by the gory cruelty of Evil Cooper (among others). I’m hopeful the series will redeem itself by embracing a more modern, less violent attitude as we go along. We’ll see, though. That wouldn’t exactly be Lynch’s style. And perhaps it’s just something I’ll need to learn to stomach if I really want to see the series through. I guess I’ve just reached a point where violence toward women as entertainment has ceased to entertain me. Here’s hoping that begins to be less entertaining to others, too.