Tag Archives: film

MORESO | Generational Shame in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks

Most reviewers and fans are heralding “Gotta Light?”, episode eight of Mark Frost/David Lynch’s Twin Peaks: The Return (or Season 3 for us nerds) on Showtime, as the most ambitious and weirdest WTF hour in television history; rightly so. As with all things David Lynch, “Gotta Light?” has invited widespread theorizing on the Internet about what all of the symbolism might mean. However, everyone so far seems to miss a potent, alternative interpretation about what Twin Peaks has really been about all along; namely, Lynch’s generational shame as a Baby Boomer. Think about it.

WARNING, SOME SPOILERS AHEAD IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN EPISODE EIGHT, “GOTTA LIGHT?”

People point out the similarities between the more abstract, middle section of “Gotta Light?” – when Lynch takes us into the heart of a mushroom cloud at the 1945 climax of the Manhattan Project, which the episode title and request of the Woodsman to strangers repeatedly evoke – to the closing ten minutes of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. They point the obvious anti-thesis between Arthur C. Clarke/Kubrick’s optimistic vision (“My God, it’s full of stars.”) versus Lynch’s more pessimistic one (‘My God, it’s full of blood’ literally and metaphorically). According to Lynch’s vision, evil in the form of the spirit “Bob” was born in 1945 with the first atomic detonation. Of course, Lynch implies such a thing while adopting the quintessential Baby Boomer attitude, i.e. nothing important happen before 1945, it is all about ‘me’ (us), and so forth. Such is the nature of Baby Boomers.

However, this symbolism also offers a clue for viewers to understand that Twin Peaks might have always been about Lynch’s Baby Boomer shame.

Really, the cultural phenomenon of Twin Peaks is due to one thing: Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee); specifically, the haunting image in the opening scenes of the first episode, e.g. a dead, beautiful young girl wrapped in plastic.

Who was Laura Palmer? She was the promising, archetypal image of Generation X? The straight-A student, Prom Queen, and volunteer for the less fortunate (‘Meals on Wheels’, Audrey’s brother) with a secret life and troubled psyche due, of course, to her Baby Boomer parents.

Who murdered her? Her Baby Boomer father, Leland Palmer, who was possessed by the evil spirit “Bob”, who we now know (thanks to “Gotta Light?”) was born in the fires of the atomic denotation in 1945, e.g. the chronological origins of the Baby Boomers themselves.

There’s more. Typically, the most important Generation X characters of the original series (Shelley, Donna, James, Audrey, Maddie, even Bobby Briggs and Laura herself) are good, innocent, or misunderstood. Shelley’s abusive husband, Leo Johnson, doesn’t fit but we’re never sure if he is a young Baby Boomer or the oldest of the Generation X characters. The Baby Boomer characters are divided into good (Ed Hurley, Norma, Sheriff Truman), eccentric (Gordon Cole, Hawk, Andy & Lucy, Log Lady, Nadine, Pete, Sarah Palmer), and nefarious/evil (Leland Palmer, Ben and Jerry Horne, Catherine Martell, the Renaults, Windom Earle, and so forth).

Indeed, David Lynch’s Twin Peaks character Gordon Cole is famously hard-of-hearing. Basically, he is representative of an entire generation.

Finally, in the opening scenes of “Gotta Light?” (before everything gets really weird), we witness the murder of Cooper’s doppelganger. The Woodsmen (see header image) appear and engage in a strange ritual, apparently extracting the evil spirit of ‘Bob” as a fetal orb from the body of DoppelCooper. This bloody scene reeks of abortion imagery. Abortion, of course, is one of the most enduring legacies of the Baby Boomers via the Roe v. Wade decision. Lynch’s symbolism in this scene is ambiguous, to say the least. The Woodsmen’s abortion of “Bob” seems to bring DoppelCooper back to life, i.e. children of Baby Boomers (i.e. Generation X) are evil and abortion ‘saves’ lives. However, the character Ray (who shot DoppelCooper) observes this ritual in absolute, moral horror. This ritual apparently allows the evil spirit “Bob” to endure in the Twin Peaks universe, which can’t be a good thing.

In response, the (presumedly) benevolent beings watching over the events of 1945 create a golden orb, which contains the face of Laura Palmer. Because the image of the Earth is black and white, we assume this golden orb was sent to Earth in the same time period as the ‘birth’ of the evil spirit Bob in 1945. However, this is a leap of logic (if such a thing can be said about Twin Peaks). We know that time, as we understand it, has no meaning in the White Lodge (probably the setting during this golden orb scene) and Black Lodge. Does this golden orb represent the inherent promise of Generation X, which Baby Boomers still endeavor to squander, even murder today?

There is much in the episode “Gotta Light?”, in particular, and Twin Peaks, in general, to suggest David Lynch is attempting to express the collective shame of his entire generation for fü©king over so much, including an entire generation of their promising, unwanted ‘latchkey kids’.

Moreso is a new series of short ruminations or thoughts of the moment, usually of less than 500 words, from The Outlaw Urbanist.

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NOW AVAILABLE | The Best of Both Worlds | Architecture & Film, Part 3

Part III of the Architecture and Film course series, “The Best of Both Worlds”, reviews the seductive correspondence between cinema and architecture. Over the last four decades, the film-architecture analogy and startling technological advances, mostly deriving from computer science, have blurred the distinction between cinema and architecture. Collectively, this tends to obscure the most important aspect, which is architecture’s impact on the dual aims of cinema, e.g. narrative and technology. Part III reviews the cinematic use of architectural precedents and typologies in crafting distinctive film-grammars in support of narrative and characterization for extended narratives. The “Architecture and Film” course series more closely examines the frequent role of the built environment in creatively reinforcing or subverting expectations of the audience about cinematic narratives (2.0 hour course). Click here to purchase this course ($14.99)

Key concepts:  extended narratives, science fiction, fantasy, abnormal scale, cultural appropriation, and historical juxtaposition.

Includes a two-hour video presentation and PDFs of the course supplementary material and slide handout.

Part 3 Film and Television Topics
Star Trek, Harry Potter, Blade Runner, The Lord of the Rings, Citizen Kane, Batman, Doctor Who, Inception, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Spellbound, Doctor Strange, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Interstellar, Star Wars, Logan’s Run, Alien, Dune, Battlestar Galactica, Zoolander, The Martian Chronicles, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, District 9

Please note there may be a delay for a couple of hours before you are able to access the course because we have to confirm receipt of payment for each order before completing the purchase.

About the Instructor

mark_v3Dr. Mark David Major, AICP, CNU-A is an architect and planner with extensive experience in urban planning and design, business management and real estate development, and academia. He is a Professor of Urban Design at the Savannah College of Art and Design. Mark has been a visiting lecturer at the University of Florida, Georgia Tech, Architectural Association in London, the University of São Paulo in Brazil, and Politecnico di Milano in Italy.

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NOW AVAILABLE | The Architectural Competence in Cinema | Architecture & Film, Part 2

Part 2 of the Architecture and Film course series, “The Architectural Competence in Cinema” (2.0 hour) reviews the seductive correspondence between cinema and architecture. Over the last four decades, the film-architecture analogy and startling technological advances, mostly deriving from computer science, have blurred the distinction between cinema and architecture. Collectively, this tends to obscure the most important aspect, which is architecture’s impact on the dual aims of cinema, e.g. narrative and technology. Part II reviews the cinematic use of architectural precedents and typologies in crafting distinctive film-grammars in support of narrative and characterization. The “Architecture and Film” course series more closely examines the frequent role of the built environment in creatively reinforcing or subverting expectations of the audience about cinematic narratives. Click here to purchase this course ($14.99).

Key concepts:  narrative, scale, historical precedent, architectural typologies, and hyperreality.

Includes a two-hour video presentation and PDFs of the course supplementary material and slide handout.

Part 2 Film and Television Topics
Alien, War of the Worlds, V for Vendetta, Blade Runner, Jaws, Watchmen, Batman, The Rape of Doctor Willis, Superman, The Lady in the Water, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Star Wars, The Godfather, Game of Thrones, The Lord of the Rings, Baywatch, The Shawshank Redemption, Thor, From Hell, The Lodger, James Bond, Chinatown, Logan’s Run, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Stargate, Battlestar Galactica, Cube, 1984, Divergent, The Truman Show, Pleasantville, Metropolis, V, Independence Day, Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Please note there may be a delay for a couple of hours before you are able to access the course because we have to confirm receipt of payment for each order before completing the purchase.

About the Instructor

mark_v3Dr. Mark David Major, AICP, CNU-A is an architect and planner with extensive experience in urban planning and design, business management and real estate development, and academia. He is a Professor of Urban Design at the Savannah College of Art and Design. Mark has been a visiting lecturer at the University of Florida, Georgia Tech, Architectural Association in London, the University of São Paulo in Brazil, and Politecnico di Milano in Italy.

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COMING SOON | Architecture and Film

The Architecture and Film (6.0 hour version) course series covers the relation, if any, between cinema and architecture. Of all the fine arts, cinema and architecture seem to uniquely correspond due to their natures as both an art and a science. The course series more closely examines the role that the built environment often plays in creatively reinforcing or subverting expectations of the audience about cinematic narratives. Part I reviews the conceptual, historical and technological correspondence between cinema and architecture. Parts II and III reviews filmmakers’ use of architectural typologies of space and form to craft distinctive film-grammars in service to cinematic narratives. Key concepts: film, narrative, artificial intelligence, CGI, technology, simulation, scale, historical precedent, architectural typology, and hyper-reality. Available soon to separately purchase as 2.0 hour courses ($14.99 each) or a 6.0 hour course series package ($39.99).

Part I: Do Architects Dream of Celluloid Buildings? (2.0 hour version)
– the seductive correspondence between cinema and architecture

Part II: The Architectural Competence in Film (2.0 hour version)
– the rules of film-grammars for cinematic built environments

Part III: The Best of Both Worlds (2.0 hour version)
– case studies in science fiction/fantasy films and television

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Urban Patterns | Disneyland | Anaheim | California USA

“Jack be nimble, Jack be quick. Ohhhh.
Take a ride on the West Coast kick. Ohhhh.
Holiday roooooaaaad, ohhhhh.”
— Holiday Road, Lindsey Buckingham

Urban Patterns | Disneyland | Anaheim | California USA
by Dr. Mark David Major, AICP, CNU-A

Purportedly the happiest place on Earth, Disneyland is located in Anaheim, California about 30 miles from Downtown Los Angeles. Opened in 1955, Disneyland is the only theme park designed and built under the direct supervision of Walt Disney. Walt Disney came up with the concept after visiting various amusement parks with his daughters in the 1930s and 1940s. He initially envisioned building a tourist attraction adjacent to his studios in Burbank to entertain fans who wished to visit; however, he soon realized that the proposed site was too small. After hiring a consultant to help him determine an appropriate site for his project, Disney bought a 160-acre (65 ha) site near Anaheim in 1953. Construction began in 1954 and the park was unveiled during a special televised press event on the ABC Television Network on July 17, 1955 (Source: Wikipedia).

Satellite view from 2.5 km of Disneyland in Anaheim, California in 2013 (Source: Google Earth).

It is not a surprise to discover acres of surface parking servicing the park, which also represents the hottest place in the urbanized areas of Southern California (literally, not metaphorically). The pink ramparts of the Disney castle are visible in the center of the above image. The overall shape of the original park was circular (discounting later expansions) with the famous Disney Main Street running from the main gate in the south towards the north, defining a ceremonial axis that terminates on the castle. Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island (see Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer) is located to the northwest of the park. Tomorrowland is located to the eastern edge of the park (though I suppose nowadays it could be more easily called Todayland). The highway adjacent to Disneyland at its eastern edge is Interstate 5 aka Santa Ana Freeway. To get there from Santa Monica: take Olympic to I-10, then to I-5 south but avoid the 4-0-5 at all costs, like fer sure.

(Updated: June 25, 2017)

Urban Patterns is a series of posts from The Outlaw Urbanist presenting interesting examples of terrestrial patterns shaped by human intervention in the urban landscape over time.

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