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Lodged in a Fantasy Space: Twin Peaks and Hidden Obscenities

  • Todd McGowan

Abstract

Despite its status as one of the first representatives of what has become known as quality television, Twin Peaks has received a striking amount of critique. Feminist critics take the show to task for employing the traditional sexist trope that the most beautiful woman is a dead woman and structuring its narrative around violence toward women. Not only that, but it also exculpates the murderer of Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) by depicting him possessed by a supernatural force when committing incest and murder. In the world of Twin Peaks, women are the victims, while men commit the crimes and solve the mysteries. 1 From the perspective of class, the series depicts a middle-class world threatened by dangerous members of the lower class, such as Leo Johnson (Eric DaRe) and especially BOB (Frank Silva). Despite its formal inventiveness, Twin Peaks seems to be on most counts a political disaster. The narrative structure of the series lends support to Jonathan Rosenbaum’s critique that “ Twin Peaks is ideologically no different from other prime time serials” (25). In one sense, Rosenbaum is correct: the series promulgates ideological fantasies as much as any other television program. But what he fails to see is that Twin Peaks takes a different approach to these fantasies, which is why the series is ideologically the opposite of most of its television counterparts. Lynch and Frost’s series separates the fantasmatic elements of our social reality from that reality, and the effect is one of undermining our capacity for investing ourselves in that social reality. In this way, the series opens us to the possibility of changing our social reality rather than simply taking it for granted.

Keywords

Social Reality Television Show Symbolic Structure Life Worth Living Twin Peak 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Todd McGowan 2016

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  • Todd McGowan

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