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The Duke Explains Why He Don’t Like David Lynch

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There’s a friend of mine by the name of Paul, and Paul is very fond of this character by the name of David Lynch. As I respect mine comrades, I will warn Paul now, should he be reading, that what this is, is why The Duke thinks David Lynch is a charlatan hack misogynist motherfucker. Just in case anyone gets the wrong idea.

Now, I don’t wish to tar any fans of Lynch with this same shite-drenched branch, so I will point out that Paul is incredibly intelligent, and has obviously some reason for liking the work of this individual.

The Duke, however, has many reasons for not liking it. Here is why.

There is a great misconception amongst the Filmic Affair Cognoscenti that this man Lynch is some kind of a genius, on account of he makes no damn sense. For The Duke, however, each review of Mullholland Avenue or Red Satin reads like the declarations of an audience gaping upon The Emperors New Clothes. They talk about how profound it all is, how meaningful, how cool those threads are. I, however, see only a big naked hairy arse. And it’s not even a very nice one, either.

Lynch is without doubt one of the most predictable filmmakers currently filmmaking. If there is a woman, she is either a lesbian or a whore, probably both, and the only way to deal with her is to give her a good seeing to with the fists. Sometimes this is passed off as “sexual deviancy”, when really, it amounts to little more than “My, aren’t females a bunch of fucked up bitches.”

If a midget arrives, it’s not because Lynch felt like offering starring roles to people who are often ignored on account of their disability, it’s because Lynch finds them freaky and funny and therefore uses them to signify evil and such. We look forward to his appropriation of disfigured children as other, possibly even more evil forms of evil in the future.

Oh wait, he already did that, way back in his first ever film, what went by the name of Eraserhead. The sad thing is, Eraserhead is actually one of very, very few Lynch films The Duke deems worthy of watching. See, Lynch’s daughter had to be given serious medical treatment when she was born, and was hooked up to any number of machines and such like. Via his never-ending chasm of humanity, Lynch recreated this in his debut as the mutant baby what eventually has to be killed on account of its freakishness.

The man just don’t like humans very much. Not one little bit. Maybe it’s cause we all thought Dune was shit. Who the hell knows?

But Duke, you cry, what about The Elephant Man?

Well, that would be the other film worth watching, on account of there being at least a smidgen of humanity in evidence. It is very, very possible, of course, that Davey just wanted to make a film about a bloke with a big freaky head.

The rule of Lynch is that if a film is in danger of being revealed as the laughable crud which is so evidently has become, then we take a big twist. These twists usually involve Kiefer Sutherland turning into Kyle McLaughlin, or all the characters forgetting that the bloke at the start killed someone all of a sudden, or a bloke waking up to discover that the whole film has changed, and it’s now a weird jazz-porn affair with Marilyn Manson.

This supposedly spontaneous unpredictability is, in fact, cripplingly predictable. As predictable, in fact, as all the lights starting to flicker when a baddie appears.

By the way, Saying… Something… Really… Really… Slowly… Doesn’t… Make… It… Any… More… Profound. David Lynch, however, believes quite the opposite. The slower a sentence can be uttered, the better, and hopefully by the time the full-stop arrives we’ve all forgotten what the hell the start of it was about and are therefore incapable of recognising the stench of bullshit.

To make a film like Blue Velvet, or Wild At Heart, Or Twin Peaks Part 2 – Walking On The Fire, all you need is a woman, a butch man (and one to replace with him come the half-time mark), a midget and some old records from the 60’s, preferably played really slowly, so as they take on evil, sinister undertones.

His films are lazy, dull, laughably pretentious and unutterably nasty, and they even try to pass it all off as being terribly ironic and tongue and cheek. To be fair, when the woman was beat shitless and had an orgasm over it all in Blue Velvet, that was some ironic shit right there. Jesus, I almost fell off my damn chair with the force of all the irony. Man, was my tongue ever in my cheek.

No doubt some one will say, But Duke, what about The Straight Story!

I will admit I have yet to see the film with the old fella on a lawnmower. But really, the words “A David Lynch Film” appearing onscreen tend to rob me of whatever enthusiasm I might have had hitherto, regarding the work in question.

But what the hell do I know? I’m just a motherfucker with no sense of irony. Those New Clothes are fucking gorgeous, by the way.

The Duke resides at Mondo Irlando

As a mark of respect for Blogcritics, I offer these links what go to Amazon, but honestly, I’d rather I didn’t have to hawk this motherfuckers wares.

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About The Duke

  • splitred

    Here I think is a relevant quote from Nabokov’s Lectures on Russian Literature p. 162 (incidentally, I retreived this quote using Amazon’s generally wonderful “Search this Book” function, but, since this particular page was “Unavailable” I had to do multiple searches to piece it together, and you’re welcome):

    A dream is a show-a theatrical piece staged within the brain in a subdued light before a somewhat muddleheaded audience. The show is generally a very mediocre one, carelessly performed, with amateur actors and haphazard props and a wobbly backdrop.

    Lynch’s films always struck me as running on dream logic, and I would bet that a lot of his ideas come from writing dreams down, although I haven’t heard him say so. I did read this (approximately) by him, though: “What kind of country is this where human scum can run across my lawn and I go to jail if I shoot them?” Oh come on, it’s funny.

    When I was in college, “The Duke” was our name for the schizophrenic homeless guy who hung out at the Long Beach Tommy Burger (he had a new catch phrase every day – one day it was “Where’s the Duke?” – which kind of stuck). For the low price of some midnight chili cheese fries he would regale us with amusing rants. You haven’t by any chance been to Long Beach, have you?

  • Chris Kent

    Well, what about The Straight Story?! Upon initial viewing I thought it was his least Lynch-like film. Upon repeated viewings, I have seen that it is indeed Lynch, but in comfortably, life-embracing ways. Unlike other great directors of the present generation (Tarantino comes to mind), Lynch HAS attempted to make a film about the human spirit, mining his own beliefs and ideas about emotional truth. It is his most mature effort, and along with The Elephant Man, his most life-affirming film. It is a brilliant work, as perfect in every way as a film could possibly be.

    We listen to the Demons within us, we come up with Lost Highway and Wild at Heart. We listen to the Angels – which is far more difficult – and we produce The Straight Story. Lynch dances with both, but at least he has danced with both……..

    As for Splitred, well, anyone who would make fun of a sad homeless man and antagonize him with fast food a la children at the zoo would no doubt be quoting obscure Russian bullshit and obsessed with Lynch wet dreams……

  • Eric Olsen

    I love The Elephant Man, which is humane if nothing else, a kind of extended gothic humanity laced with nobility. And I think Blue Velvet is a classic, the apex of his “nothing stranger than real life” ethos. I also found the Twin Peaks series highly compelling for a time until it became too explicit with its supernatural elements.

    But interesting thoughts as always – you are an exceptional contributor, thanks!

  • i’m a lynch fan, even if i don’t understand where he’s headed most of the time (the ‘dream logic’ thing makes sense).

    we’ve had conversations about this before…from what i’ve seen in interviews , i don’t think lynch has an ounce of pretentiion in him: he’s just weird.

  • The Straight Story is worthwhile from the git-go and the words: “Walt Disney presents a David Lynch film”.

    I like David Lynch movies (well, except “Fire Walk With Me” that was a huge pile of crap). But what he is really best at is making teevee programmes. That is how “Mulholland Drive” started. Why won’t HBO hire Lynch — oh, wait, they already got “Carnivale” and probably cheaper.

  • Wow. The Duke hasn’t saw this level of debate since the time he tried to convince everyone that Cannibal Holocaust was a masterpiece. Or the time in the dole queue when i attempted to convince the woman that i hadn’t under any circumstacnes been painting a roof on tuesday. I try not to focus on negative stuff very much, which is why i wasn’t very keen on putting this on here. The result, of course, is that the negative post is countered by the positive comments underneath, and the equilibriam is restored, just like Lincoln said. Or something. I must investigate The Straight Story on the advice of our Chris Kent and all the other folks here who said it is the best film about Lawnmowers since Braindead (winner of Mondo Irlando Lifetime Achievement Award Regarding Lawnmowers in 2003). The dream stuff is interesting, and it’s been banded around for years to convince folks that Lynch is really the messiah. Thing is, though, isn’t great art supossed to be about more than the artist? When all you’re doing is being purposefully obscure a la lynch, or yacking about other folks films a la Tarantino, then what are you adding to it all? Not much more than the folks who write lengthy essays saying you’re shit, i’m guessing. Thanks folks.

  • splitred

    We did not torment the homeless guy, we were very nice to him, and we gave him food (not the best food granted, but then that was where he chose to hang out and eat, as did we).

    My point if you read the Nabokov quote, was that I think Lynch’s stuff is generally B.S. (albeit cinematically well-crafted – and it was among the many types of B.S. that meant a lot to me when I was an adolescent). My point with the Lynch quote was that he’s an asshole, albeit an funnyg one. I am amused by horrible things. Sue me.

    I read the Nabakov book because it happened to be on the communal bookshelf in the former brothel run by a pair of elderly (and rather Lynchian) twins from Shanghai named Frank and George (presumably they had Chinese names, but nobody seemed to know them), where I rented one of the little fuck-rooms when I was doing the slacker English teacher thing in Taipei (as opposed to America, sigh). I am actually woefully ignorant of Russian literature, but that’s one of those things I hope to rectify eventually. But enough about me…

  • Chris Kent

    Though I will blushingly admit the lesbian love scene in Mulholland Drive gave me one hell of a boner. Thank you David Lynch…THANK YOU!!!!

  • splitred

    p.s. It was a long long time ago, and p.p.s. If you’re really concerned about the plight of the tormented schizophrenics who wander the streets of our city (and are averse to Russian bullshit), I might suggest directing your ire toward the Randians who infest this site (however good their taste in music).

  • Splitred, i am highly inrigued by these tales of brothel-hopping and English teaching. Chris, it was Naomi Watts after all. What’s not to get excited about?

  • Chris Kent

    Splitred, you sure can dish it out, but when it comes to taking it you have all the power of a drunk Bill Mumy…..;)

    Yes, Naomi Watts can solve my “mystery” eights days a week…..

  • chris

    thing about lynch is his movies all have a very smug and nasty undercurrent. i don;t know whether this is intentional or not on his part but this smugness is there is all of his films (even the supposedly humanistic elephant man). i remember seeing dennis hopper commenting on how mr. lynch was uncomfortable with the profane lines he wrote for hopper to say in blue velet and this just adds to my theory that he is simply a pretentious (though talented) pop/surrealist artist. you know, one of those guys who just can’t help but create stuff that practicaly begs you to be offended by it. like that insufferable buffalo video for u2’s ‘one’. or the guy at the bus stop who looks over at you and says, ‘elephants’ for no apparent reason. in other words an interesting asshole.

  • Eric Olsen

    “interesting asshole”: interesting assessment. I agree other than Elephant Man, Blue Velvet, the first 2/3 of Mulholland, and perhaps best of all, the first season or so of Twin Peaks, all of which rocked. His biggest problem seems to be closing the deal.

  • Goofy

    Im astounded at people who like the author here dismiss Lynch films by suggesting that they somehow contain all of these kind of stock elements you have seen in a million other movies.

    I have never seen the kind of things I have seen in Lynch films in any other movies, ever. If I did, then those people probably were trying to imitate him. If you claim you have I say then list some.

    I think this criticism of Lynch post is nothing more then the common trend nowadays for people to be jaded so as to otherwise appear ‘cool’. Good luck with that.

  • jeffrey

    Excellent comment, “Goofy.” To expand on your comment, it is remarkably easy to dismiss, much harder to critique. This particular comment- section reminds me of 16 year-olds complaining about the “stupid” books they have to read for English class. I won’t say Lynch is perfect: Whatever the symbolic import of his depictions of women or “freaks”, for instance (which demonstrate, above all, I think, a sympathy for the socially disinherited), he himself plays on these taboos and stereotypes in such a way that they are never entirely discredited. However, to debate the most common point here, while Mulholland Drive might be one of Lynch’s most confusing films, it is also among his most mature, a lot like Lost Highway – and incidentally, a lot like Nietzsche (there’s some obscure German “bullshit”): Lynch, like Nietzsche, must be experienced more than once, for more than one purpose, and from more than one direction. Instead of calling down one of the world’s most brilliant film directors after Fellini, either put more effort into understanding Lynch, or read a peer-reviewed film journal and let the experts do it for you.

  • well this is a very embaressing glance back at an age-old article. nonetheless, i must holler about that Nietzsche / Lynch comparison, Jeffrey. To compare Lynch to ol’ Freid is all well and good in terms of “yes, there’s some nasty, wretched nonsense, but a lot of worthwhile stuff too”, but it falls apart when one considers that Nietzche had some stuff worth saying in addition to those deplorable misogynist, near-fascist moments. Lynch, on the other hand, has NOTHING to say. what do his films tell us about anything? nothing, is what they tell us. with the exceptions maybe of Eraserhead and The Elephant Man (and possibly Straight Story. i haven’t seen it). Blue Velvet i supose has something worth considering about hypocrisy and the like, but the notion that oh holy god, it turns out yonder picket fences aren’t so sparkling after all is hardly anything shockingly groundbreaking (Douglas Sirk was poking around the corners of the notion a near half-century earlier.)

    And i’m sorry, but the notion that Lynch’s leering over “freaks” and the hatred towards women in his films (and not just women, humanity in general) is in any way prrof of a “sympathy for the socially disinherited” is something i can’t for a moment buy. it’s proof of a man sniggering at deformity and awash with hatred, that’s the height of it.

  • jeffrey


    I won’t argue with your assertion that Lynch could be misogynist and the like. That’s not my take on his work, but there’s a lot in his work that could justify that interpretation.

    To save time and space, I’ll give you the reference info for the best article I’ve read on the film. Check out the review in ‘Film Quarterly’ for the film: Martha P. Nochimson, Vol. 56, No. 1. (Autumn, 2002), pp. 37-45. You shouldn’t have any trouble tracking this down if you’re near a good library. Can’t wait to see “Inland Empire.” Looking forward to your interpretation of it.

  • Poet


    Suggest you see “The Straight Story” and read Lynch’s book, “Catching the Big Fish” before you utter another word about him.

    You’ll be pleasantly amazed.

    That’s it.

  • I love David Lynch’s films, because they are beautiful and tragic. This comment is restricted to Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, Elephant Man and Lost Highway – although I’ll allow Fire Walk With Me because it was the story of my adolescence, metaphorically. I refuse to divulge my gender. Many people hate him but I think he knows god in a small and faulty way – that way I can see truth through him. He is see-through, but aren’t we all.

  • PS re misogyny: Issy was somehow in love with Frank Booth

  • Myrdradek

    Be nice to to the emperor. We are all naked beneath our clothes.

  • JHM

    This is fairly inaccurate, to say the least.

    Look, there are plenty of solid and interesting critiques to be made of Lynch’s portrayals of women from a feminist perspective, but “they are all whores and/or lesbians who suffer abuse from men” is pretty horribly off-base and betrays a very limited, distorted understanding of the man’s work. Do prostitute characters show up more often in his films than a lot of other people’s? Yes, but so do a lot of film noir archetypes and stock characters. Many of his characters are, in some respect, figments of the imagination or props in a drama as much as full human beings, whether male or female.

    As to the baby in Eraserhead, Lynch himself has said that the story is a kind of exorcism of all the worst fears of a new parent, in particular the terror of potentially being unable to understand, care for, or even love your own offspring; the fear that you will snap from being needed constantly with no apparent gain and do something unspeakable. It’s a fantasy of self-loathing and terror at what one might be capable of.

    The “freak” thing is more complicated and dodgy, but in Lynch’s films, while physically abnormal individuals are sometimes used as metaphoric gatekeepers to mysteries (as questionable as that may be), they are never really antagonists, the vast majority of whom are middle-aged white men, frequently privileged and sadistic; and when they do appear in larger roles (Merrick, for instance), they are sympathetic outsiders marginalised by internally monstrous “normal” people.

    Lynch definitely has some odd views well worth dissecting. As I noted before, he draws a lot on somewhat iffy concepts from older media to either make points about that media or convey something else… or just as a shout-out. And yes, violence towards women occurs a lot in his work, even if the cinematic eye is implicitly critical of it. These are things worth talking about. But that doesn’t make the way that you are addressing them any less specious or any more coherent. You just do not sound well-informed about the subject that you are discussing. If anything, this is like whisper-down-the-lane media criticism: “I heard he does X and X is bad!”

    Sorry if I’m being overly harsh here, but them’s the brakes.