I could no longer ignore a glaring fact about Lynch’s new Twin Peaks: It is fueled by troubling cultural appropriation.I’ve been a serious and passionate Twin Peaks fan since the 1990s. I’ve written a weekly column on a popular fan site since before The Return. I founded my own Facebook Bookhouse of old-timers that I hear tell is one of the most productive and decent fan communities with almost zero trolling and wonderful discussions. As a woman of color — and one of an even more niche community of Twin Peaks fans of color — I’ve been a vocal and staunch defender of David Lynch’s work as not racist and sexist, and I’ve theoretically situated The Return in the framework of Brechtian theatre principles and socio-cultural satire. I’ve done my part to feature the voices of other fans of color, as well as actively advocate for rape and trauma survivors through my writing and participation in fan communities. I watched Twin Peaks: The Return from an unabashed female and feminist gaze, and found much of Lynch’s commentary to be powerful and empowering. Twin Peaks has been like an imaginary home to me for decades, and a place where I was able to accomplish a great deal of healing and self-development. But after the surreal and disturbing finale, and slowly coming out of the haze that has been these past three months, I could no longer ignore a glaring fact about Lynch’s new Twin Peaks: It is fueled by troubling cultural appropriation.
What keeps other Peakies of color coming back again and again? How did other people of color navigate and negotiate the show’s overwhelming whiteness?It was the summer of 1998 when I was first introduced to David Lynch and Mark Frost’s strange little town of Twin Peaks. I was already a huge Lynch fan, but Twin Peaks was a horse of a different color. It changed the landscape of pulp television and elevated it to art. More importantly, it was the first time that family violence — and in particular childhood sexual abuse — was ever discussed openly on prime time TV in a white middle class context, removing it from the narrative that only the poor and racial minorities were the perpetrators of these kinds of crimes. It was groundbreaking work. As the decades have gone by, Twin Peaks has managed to keep my attention, and with each viewing of the show and its prequel film, Fire Walk With Me my obsession with the town and Laura Palmer’s story has only grown.
Think you know the women of David Lynch's classic Twin Peaks? Think again -- and take good notes before the show resurfaces on Showtime in May. In honor of Women's History Month as well as the upcoming Twin Peaks revival, here are some