"Come on, it’ll be just like in the movies. We’ll pretend to be someone else." – ‘Betty’
If you haven’t yet seen MULHOLLAND DR., the following piece has ‘spoilers’.
What is the most horrible thing in the world? For an answer, we can concoct all kinds of theories, explanations, speculations, imaginations, and fantasies. But in the end, nothing is more horrible than the pure and simple truth. Perhaps no film conveyed this sense more powerfully than David Lynch’s MULHOLLAND DR. Roughly, the first four-fifths of the film are immersed in a kind of dream-fantasy-haze, and the final one fifth dwells on the reality of what-really-happened. We realize that the fever-dream was spawned within the mind of a failed actress named Diane Selwyn.
The surreal alternative universe of Selwyn’s fantasies ranges in style and mood from comedy to romance to horror to absurdism to ‘art film’. There are some funny bits, especially with the old couple with frozen faces in the limousine and the cocky movie director who finds his wife in bed with another man and later confronts the ‘cowboy’. In some scenes, what begins with a light tone turns unsuspectingly dark and morbid. In others, absurd comic touches intermingle with cruelty and mayhem. Consider the first scene in the diner where some smiley faced guy relates a dream he had last night to his friend. Everything seems normal, and we expect a run-of-the-mill conversation between buddies. But we then hear that the dream turned into a nightmare that ended horribly. More chilling, the teller of the tale begins to suspect that he is in the very dream he’s been talking about. The dream that turns into a nightmare. The mood goes from light and lax to dark and brooding. In another scene, we see another pair of male friends who are scruffy-looking. They are reminiscing about old times and laughing about some ‘accident’. Suddenly, one guy pulls out a gun and shoots the other guy. Kidding turns into killing. But then, the gun misfires and hits a fat woman in another room, and the assassin has to cross the hall into the other room to pacify the fat woman(who thinks something bit her in the ass); the scene is, at once, brutal and comical. And then someone vacuuming the hotel hallway witnesses the struggle and unwittingly becomes drawn into the ‘logic’ of the violence.
Likewise, the story of Betty Elms(the fantasy alter ego of Diane Selwyn) goes from light comedy-drama to romance to dark romance to something approaching suspense and tragedy and finally horror. To be sure, though Betty is Diane’s main alternative character, there is a bit of Diane in everyone in her dream/fantasy. Though ‘Rita’ is based on or ‘inspired’ by Camilla, a real-life person, she has certain attributes that are closer to Diane’s mind-set. And the movie director, Adam Kesher, faces obstacles in the fantasy that echo the problems faced by Diane herself in real life. (Diane was angry that her lesbian or bisexual lover Camilla dumped her for someone else in real life, and Adam Kesher’s wife cheats on him in the fever-dream-fantasy. Diane’s sense of betrayal is projected onto Kesher, and Kesher is made out to be the victim of not only a cheating wife but a grand gangster conspiracy to shut down his movie production UNLESS he casts a woman not of his preference. In the fantasy, Kesher is wronged and helpless, a figure of some sympathy despite his cockiness and smugness. But in reality, Kesher was always a smart and savvy player with an ace up his sleeve, and he usually got what he wanted. He never looked at Diane because she had no talent and was less alluring than Camilla. Also, even though his real-life wife did cheat on him, he got the better of the deal in court. He glibly says, "I got the pool, and she got the pool man. I couldn't believe it. I wanted to buy that judge a Rolls-Royce.") As it turns out, Diane and Camilla once roomed together as aspiring actresses. Apparently, Camilla had the talent and/or the looks to make it in the business whereas Diane didn’t. They were lesbian or bi-sexual lovers, and Diane got awful jealous when Camilla won the affection of the movie director. And Diane became especially mad when Camilla pulled what seemed like a dirty trick on her. Camilla invited Diane to a special party at the mansion of the movie director Adam Kesher: for some reason, his name hasn’t been changed to something else in the fantasy; and his mother named ‘Coco’, though playing a different role in the fantasy, is still named ‘Coco’. Anyway, on the evening of the party, Diane was picked up like a movie star from her apartment in a limousine. She was met by Camilla alongside the stretch of road leading to the house through the woods. It was like a magic moment right out of a movie, as if Camilla still loved her friend most of all as they walked hand-in-hand through an enchanted world. In that moment, their relationship takes on mythic undertones, at least in Diane’s mind — though Camilla surely knows how she is manipulating her friend — , and Diane could almost believe that the star and guest-of-honor of the evening will be none other than herself. But at the party, it soon dawns on everyone who is rich and/or famous that Diane is a untalented bore and merely there as an exhibition of the kind of specimen that is all too common in Hollywood: would-be-starlets from all over America who are foolish enough to think that dreams come true to anyone with a dream. She even becomes the object of pity(shading into contempt) as Coco, the mother of the director pats her hand in cold comfort after hearing Diane’s story of her humble background and frustration as an actress. (In the fantasy, Coco has been ‘recast’ as the kindly and empathetic manager of luxury condominium who exudes goodwill and understanding. As the mother of a famous Hollywood director, Diane obviously hungers for her approval.) Worst of all, it soon becomes obvious to Diane that Camilla may have invited her to make a final break in their relationship and to use her as an object of mockery for all to see. A case of damning with faint friendliness. Not only do we see Camilla kissing another woman on the lips but Adam Kesher, her official lover, announces that they are to be... (married). It’s like a double-betrayal. Camilla has chosen another lesbian lover — one more glamorous — and has chosen to tie the knot with a up-and-coming hotshot movie director. (Kesher seems okay with Camilla’s bisexuality and other lovers. I suppose it’s better for one’s future wife to have lesbian lovers than male lovers. The other woman that Camilla kisses is the one who is forced onto the movie director by some gangster conspiracy in Diane’s fever-dream. Of course, it was Camilla’s decision to be lovers with her, but in Diane’s fantasy, she wants to believe otherwise and thus the scenario is altered. So within the fantasy, the ‘other woman’ is forced as a wedge between the main characters by some gangster conspiracy. And she is called ‘Camilla’, the name of the woman who betrayed Diane. Diane loved Camilla but hated what became of her. So, Camilla is made into ‘Rita’ and the name of ‘Camilla’ is transferred into this ‘other woman’ who becomes the star of the movie-under-production not because anyone wants her but because the dark powers-that-be insist she has to be ‘the one’.) Humiliated and angry, Diane pays off some scruffy assassin to kill Camilla. Riven with anger and bitterness, Diane thought then that she wanted nothing more than sweet revenge. She would get back at Camilla by having her murdered. Furthermore, if Camilla is gone from the world, Diane would no longer have reason to feel jealousy since Camilla would no longer exist.
|Camilla and Adam Kesher|
|Woody Allen's CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS: the Victorious Conscienceless Jew.|
Though we are apt to see Betty as the alternate of Diane and see ‘Rita’ as the alternate of Camilla, oddly enough both Betty and ‘Rita’ are alternates of Diane and Camilla. Though Betty is physically the same as Diane, her radiance and talent(noticed by Hollywood casting directors) makes her more like the real-life Camilla. Though ‘Rita’ is physically the same as Camilla, her seating in the limousine in the opening scene is a variation of Diane’s situation in a limousine to Kesher’s mansion later in the film. ‘Rita’(suffering from amnesia and unable to remember her real name) has attributes that refer to both Diane and Camilla. Like Diane, ‘Rita’ is being driven to some place in a limousine. But like Camilla, ‘Rita’ is about to be assassinated. And just as she’s ordered to step out of the car, the limousine is demolished by an oncoming collision with a car full of youngsters racing down the road.
|Naomi Watts as Diane Selywn|
The advantage of fantasy is one can make up stories as one pleases. But fantasies, however pleasurable and comforting they may be, are just that: fantasies. It’s like the Julie Christie character in Robert Altman’s MCCABE AND MRS. MILLER can lose herself in opiate fantasies, but they are nothing more than pipe dreams.
Fever-dreams aren’t just about happy escapism of make-believe but a fascination with mystery. Though we can make of fantasy as we please, there’s something innately unstable about fantasy that undermines our control, especially when the fantasy happens to serve as dreamland wish-fulfillment. Fantasy is open and free but also uncertain and corrosive since they are open to so many possibilities, each one being as valid as the other. If one fantasizes oneself as great doctor, it’s no more or no less valid than fantasizing oneself as a great lawyer or great athlete or great lover or great mountaineer or great general. But if one can be anything in fantasy, it also implies one is nothing in fantasy. Also, one soon realizes that certain fantasies are more sensible and closer to one’s reality than others. For fantasy to be something more than fantastical, it needs to be an exaggeration or mythologization of one’s real world desires and talents. Anyone can fantasize oneself as Superman or Wonder Woman, but such fantasies are so far-out and ludicrous that they wouldn’t address our emotional desires and anxieties.
If someone has a knack for computers, his fantasy as the next Steve Jobs or Bill Gates is surely more feasible than his fantasy as a heavyweight boxer or jet fighter pilot. If one has some athletic talent, it’s more feasible for him to fantasize himself as a star quarterback or home run hitter than as a Nobel prize winning physicist. Though his actual talent may fall way short of his fantasy desire, certain fantasies carry more ‘logic’ than others. As Diane Selwyn is an actress in Hollywood with a pretty face and some appeal — if not much talent — , it makes more sense for her to fantasize herself as a star actress than the next president of America. Furthermore, though she was ultimately rejected by Camilla, they were lovers for awhile, and therefore, Selwyn has some claim on the fantasy in which she imagines herself to be best friends with ‘Rita’. Selwyn’s fantasy isn’t an out-and-out fantasy of the dungeons-and-dragons variety but a what-if kind of fantasy constructed of rearrangements of peoples and events in actual life. To some degree, all of art and storytelling constitute this kind of fantasy. Playwrights such as Eugene O’Neill and Tennessee Williams molded elements and events of their real lives into dramas. Truman Capote used real-life people and experiences as inspirations for his short stories and novels. In the case of IN COLD BLOOD, though sold as non-fiction, the techniques were borrowed from fiction, therefore it’s not easy to discern where the non-fiction element ends and the fiction element begins. And then what of Richard Brooks’ film where actors play the actual killers with near-documentary precision? (The UVA rape hoax story might be called Mulholland Journalism.)
|Pink Pillow - Later Adam Kesher becomes smudged in pink paint.|
|Mulholland Dr. - Camilla smooches her new lesbian lover|
After Diane’s hatred leads to Camilla’s murder, she falls in love with Camilla-as-Rita to a degree way beyond her love for the real-life Camilla. Her vengeful hatred has been replaced by remorse and guilt. And as Camilla is no more in flesh, she has been turned into a ghostly spirit whose destiny can be directed in the dreamworld inhabited by Diane Selwyn.(What Diane feels for Camilla is something like ‘lovate’, hate borne of love. It’s one of the oldest themes in art, fiction, literature, mythology, etc. Paradoxically, the one you love most is likely to be the one you hate most. It’s like what happens in CARMEN. Even THE ILIAD is about ‘lovate’ as the Greeks are filled with both love and hate for Helen, or filled with hate stemming from love. She is supposedly the most beautiful woman and was stolen by the Trojans. But maybe the hussy just went with the pretty boy Paris. If she were ugly, who’d give a damn? But because she is beautiful, the Greeks must fight. She has the beauty that all men love. But because she ran off with Paris, they are filled with seething hate too. They are out to save her to kill her. It’s like Ethan is filled with ‘lovate’ for Debbie in THE SEARCHERS. Many people are bound to hate most whom they love most since, in most cases, the person that one loves most isn’t likely to reciprocate the love. It’s like the Greek mythology where Cupid usually shoots one person with the golden arrow but shoots the other with a lead arrow. So, the person one loves most isn’t likely to return the affection. And the stronger the love, the stronger the hatred borne of frustration. Diane really really loves Camilla, so when Camilla dumps her, it isn’t the simple kind of hatred but a burning kind of hatred fueled by tortured love. Simple hate is easier to deal with than ‘lovate’. You hate some people, and that’s that. The basis of such hate is simple dislike. You hate him/her because you just do. Also, other people’s hatred toward you affect you differently in relation to how you feel about them. If people you despise hate you, you don’t much care since the hatred is mutual. If people you feel indifferent to hate you, you might wonder why but you don’t really care since you don’t give a crap about them. But if someone you love hates you, it fills you with all sorts of dark complexes. Also, there is love based on respect and love based on pity. Love based on pity is condescending at best. It’s for children, not lovers; this is why Bill Harford in EYES WIDE SHUT feels insulted when his wife says she felt love for him based on pity. Before Camilla totally dumped Diane at the Hollywood party, she’d shown some affection based on pity. Because they’d been friends as aspiring actresses, Camilla found some small roles for her. Diane was grateful but also insulted that she had to live on these crumbs of Camilla’s kindness. Better to have the power/respect and show off one’s kindness to others — like Betty does toward ‘Rita’ in the fever-dream — than be the object of another’s pity, especially if he or she happens to be the lover you want to impress most. It’s like the fat homo in PRICK UP YOUR EARS couldn’t stand to see his fruitkin lover — played by Gary Oldman — find success and leave him in the dust.)
Therefore, paradoxically, the seemingly dark horrors within the dream/fantasy are actually comforting to Diane Selwyn for they obfuscate, mystify, and mythologize the simple details of her miserable life that she simply cannot face. Simple mundane problems are really the most horrible things in our lives and in our world. Unable to deal with them, we prefer elaborate theories, fantasies, imaginations, or some such to help us take our minds away from the fact that the real problem is a lot simpler. And yet, because they are simpler, they are more difficult to handle, not least because there are competing forces, competing narratives, overwhelming odds, and/or certain social taboos. Simple problems require real solutions, but real solutions are harder to come by than fanciful solutions to fantastic problems. In THE EXORCIST, we can believe in the fantasy of two noble priests driving devil out of a girl. But how do you deal with the real problem of black crime in the Washington D.C. community? Black crime is mundane and real enough. It’s a case of thugs running around and acting like louts. But the problem is difficult to handle because of the cult of ‘anti-racism’ and ‘white guilt’ and because there are too many blacks and too many laws that protect criminals.
Or consider the rape problem for the white Liberal community. The simple truth is that much of the rape in this country are committed by black thugs. It’s a mundane truth known to anyone with any degree of honesty. But as the white Liberal community believes in the mythology of MLK, black holiness, and ‘white guilt’(as part of ‘legacy of slavery’), it is incapable of honestly dealing with the problems of race and rape. (Though blacks rape the most, it’s still true that most black men do not, and so, increasing numbers of white women are going with black men. Indeed, in the Age of Obama, white women are attracted to black men for four different reasons: physical, political, sensual-musical, ‘spiritual’. Physically, black men are most muscular and biggest-donged; they are star athletes and ‘mandingos’. Politically, blackness is much prized as forceful and colorful. Blacks are considered more eloquent and commanding as ‘leaders’. In music, black sensuality and eroticism turn on both white boys and girls. There is also the ‘spiritual’ sense to the Negro for he is associated with MLK and ‘slavery’. So, white girls who have mulatto babies feel that their ‘racist’ ovaries are being baptized clean with Negro sperm, or holy watermelon. So, today, we don’t just see fat white trash women going with Negroes but fancy gentrifying urban white women going with Negro men. Let’s face it, the white race is now officially a disgrace, especially as pathetic white boys now lack all spine and resolve to do anything about this.) In order for America to deal with the problem of rape and other issues related to racial problems(stemming from black vileness), we need to talk honestly about the danger posed by blacks on America. But the white Liberal community simply cannot deal honestly with this issue because of its sacred myths and taboos. It’s like Diane Selwyn, racked with guilt & love for Camilla/Rita and obsessed with the desire to be a great star/actress, simply cannot accept the mundane fact that she never had talent and that she had her former lover killed in a fit of jealousy. Her addiction to her own wishful myths makes it impossible for her to face the simple truth. She would rather deal with grandiose elaborate horrors of imagination than face the simple truths of her life that are indeed the most horrible things to her. She would rather believe in some grand conspiracy that’s after Rita’s life and working to destroy her career than admit to the fact that she never had a chance because she lacked talent. In her dream/fantasy, she can make believe that she could have made it but for the intervention of some sinister gangster conspiracy. She could also make believe that Camilla-as-Rita is a woman-of-beautiful-soul who’s dependent on her love and support, someone whose rejuvenation is made possible by Betty’s kindly angel-like intervention. Of course, this Betty is the perfect girl who has the talent to be both a great actress and a great star as well a heart of gold that goes out of its way to help a lost soul. In a way, the fact that the two women are lesbians(or bi-sexual) underline Selwyn’s dilemma. Lesbians can make love to one another but they cannot quite connect as neither woman has a penis. Thus, there’s an element of impossibility in lesbianism that bespeaks of Diane’s situation.
|Stronger and faster Negro whupping a White Boy's Ass. So much for racial equality.|
James Watson spelled it out. Black people are really different. Watson only talked about Africa and its economic backwardness, but he also based his conclusions on his experiences with blacks in America. The implication is that black Americans will also prove to be a huge burden on the West due to their lower IQ. Many reviled Watson, but I would argue he wasn’t honest enough. The real threat posed by blacks isn’t lower IQ but the fact that they are stronger and more aggressive. But blacks are even more dangerous because they are not without certain qualities that other races finds appealing, indeed even addictive. The very qualities of blacks that cause most problems — physical strength and aggression — are also what makes them so effective in sports and funky music. So, even as people are afraid of robbing, looting, hollering, and rioting Negroes, a whole bunch of non-black women wanna have sex and even babies with Negroes — as Obama the child of a mudshark is hailed as the New Normal. Lots of women, non-black as well as black, orgasmically shake their booties to rap music and think twerking is the epitome of dancing. And white boys wet their pants as they orgasmically cheer for black athletes in the NBA and NFL. Though 2014 saw a lot of bad black behavior, especially in Ferguson and New York — though faux white rage in N.Y. had the effect of drowning out black rage — , 2015 begins with another round of national orgies over Negroes running around during the Superbowl. As our culture becomes ever more blurred between mainstream culture and pornographic culture — and also as our culture is obsessed with the cult of the cool than with meaningful substance of moral values — , the ‘mandingo’ Negro stud has become the fixture of a lot of non-black women. So, even as they clutch their purses in fear of being robbed by a Negro, they wanna have sex with Negroes. Even though they fear being raped by Negroes, they wanna have babies with Negroes. The Rebirth of the Nation is the blackening of the white womb in increasing orgies of racial suicide.
|Kim Kartrashian, the role model for countless white girls of all classes who grow up twerking their ass to Rap music.|
So, what are we to do about the problems related to crazy and dangerous Negroes?
We just make up fantasy narratives that explain bad Negro behavior by invoking the ‘legacy of slavery’ and ‘Jim Crow’. We pretend that more spending on pre-K education will turn Negroes into computer engineers. We pretend that if more white college graduates become teachers in black communities, more black kids will grow up to be like Obama. We pretend that if more white women have babies with blacks, there will be racial harmony by the exchange of fluids.
Worst of all, we project all the black pathologies on OTHER groups. So, even though rape is especially problematic in the black community, we pretend that it’s the biggest problem in colleges filled with blonde ‘frat boys’. So, someone like Sabrina Rubin Erdely came up with the Rolling Stone magazine article about how some freshman named ‘Jackie’ was repeatedly raped by quasi-Nazi fraternity monsters at UVA. And some years ago, there was the brouhaha about how ‘privileged’ white college students at Duke university gang-raped some black stripper. For a nation that is mostly silent about black-on-white rape — an epidemic among interracial rapes, because as many white women as black women are raped by blacks — , it sure stirs up quite a stink about virtually non-existent white-on-black rape. What can we say about a nation that is numb to 10,000s of black-on-white rape every year but gets totally hysterical about non-existent rape hoaxes involving evil white dudes raping some black women? Are we living in reality or some kind of Selwynian fantasy land?
The truth about racial violence is pretty simple. Blacks are stronger and more aggressive. And they know they are. So, they push around and brutalize other races. They commit the most rapes in proportional terms. And yet, this simple truth is the greatest horror to most Americans who’ve been turned politically correct and Negromaniacal in their worship of the worthless MLK, Oprah, Obama, Neil Degrasse Tyson, and rotten Rappers who are hailed as ‘poets’ and ‘prophets’. Because the simple truth is too frightening to a nation drugged on the opiate of ‘white guilt’ and the voodoo of ‘jungle fever’, most people prefer to cook up fantasy narratives about how the problem associated with blacks are either non-existent(just sweep them under the rug) or the product of some grand ‘conspiracy’ of ‘white privilege’, ‘white racism’, ‘white micro-aggression’, or whatever.
|UVA rape hoax hysteria or hoaxeria. As in GROUNDHOG DAY, another hysteria in the near future will whip up another round of anti-white frenzy in a PC state of amnesia.|
Truth may be acknowledgeable if we have the power to do something about it and overcome it. But if it’s a dead-end that seals out fate and/or is at complete odds with what we most desire, then it is the ultimate horror. When Japan attacked the US, the truth was horrible enough for Americans. Thousands of Americans had tragically died in the attack US ships in Pearl Harbor were damaged, and some were sunk with their crew members onboard. But the truth wasn’t so very horrible since US had ample means to repair the damaged ships and build many more and take the war to Japan and win. But suppose US couldn’t do anything about it. Suppose Japan had the might to completely defeat the US. Indeed, such was the fate of Japan as the war dragged on. It soon dawned on the Japanese that they could do nothing to stop the war, let alone win it, unless Japan was totally defeated and forced into complete surrender and occupation. All the myths cooked up by the Japanese — hopeful(the ‘divine wind’ will save us from ‘barbarians’) or apocalyptic(it would be honorable for all Japanese to die with the Emperor than accept the humiliation of defeat) — couldn’t halt the inevitable: US would win and Japan could only survive as a conquered people turned into the prostitutes of US world order. The apocalyptic scenario was horror-istic enough but also therapeutic in fantasizing a rapture of redemptive sacrifice, i.e. all Japanese would die but as a proud warrior people who fought to the last for Emperor and nation. It’s like Hitler in his final months believed that the last redemptive hope of Germany was for all Germans to fight to the last and die was warriors like in the Viking myths. And Che Guevara hoped that the Cuban Missile Crisis would lead to World War III in which Cuba would be gloriously sacrificed in a nuclear war for the sake of World Revolution. All such fantasies are horror-istic and frightening, but they are also therapeutic for they magnify defeat or retreat into grand Wagnerian scenarios. The world goes up in flames at the end of GOTTERDAMMERUNG and the fate of the Germanic gods and heroes are horror-istic enough, BUT it’s also glorious and magnificent. In contrast, the horribleness of reality is much more frightening. It’s not operatic but gruesome. It’s like the Nazi officers and soldiers in DOWNFALL act like they’re all gonna meet glorious deaths in fits of laughter, drinking, and partying, but defeat at the ends of Soviets means grueling rape for the women and humiliation/torture for the men. It’s just horrible, totally ignoble than noble, like Jim Jeffries’ frightful mauling at the hands of Jack Johnson the fearsome Negro. Reality isn’t some ROCKY movie.
|KAGEMUSHA: Myth soon to turn to Mayhem|
And yet, white Americans are so helpless to do something about black crime — even though, to be sure, many Negro males have been locked up since the Clinton era — because our national culture is so swept up in the History-as-Horror-tale than history-as-reality. According to this Horror tale, poor helpless Negroes who just wanted to go along and get along were terrorized by KKK. Even though, in the 100 yrs from 1860 to 1960, only a few thousand blacks were lynched, the National Myth would have us believe that just about EVERY Negro saw a family member tortured and hanged from a tree. Such History-as-Horror-tale simplicity has so infected our minds that we seem to think there’s some magical way out save and redeem the soul of America. So, Stephen King’s horror-fairy tales of wise Negroes with magical powers — THE SHINING, THE STAND, and GREEN MILE(the one with the mountain-sized Negro who wuvs a wittle white mouse) — exert huge influence on the white mind. So, white folks look to the likes of MLK, Oprah, and Obama as not just political figures or celebrities but as magical folks who might help white folks to be exorcized of the ‘original sin’ of slavery. It’s because such nonsensical horror-fairytale myth pervades our consciousness that white folks are so helpless to do anything about the actual reality of black problems. If white folks weren’t infected with a false history-as-horror-tale-as-fairytale myth, they’d see the reality for what it is: blacks are here in the US because idiotic whites in the past were looking for a short-term labor shortage fix. As the result, US ended up with lots of muscled Negroes from West Africa. There was bound to be problems down the line since Negroes are stronger, crazier, more aggressive, and childish. Since racial differences do exist, the sensible thing would have been to separate the races. Even today, if white folks were to face the true nature of the problem, there might be a movement to separate the races. But because most Americans are swept up in the history-as-horror-tale-as-fairytale myth of the Noble Negro and the ‘original sin’ of slavery, white folks don’t know what to do about the horribleness of black reality. Also, as the stupid PC-brain-damaged pop-culture-addicted millennials are the dumbest generation in the history of mankind — though, to be sure, they are to be lauded for appreciating TWILIGHT movies — , they’ve completely bought into the myth that interracism is a wonderful thing and that US has to much to gain by becoming more like racially mixed like Brazil, Chad, Morocco, and Mexico. It is amusing how Liberals promote diversity but their ideal societies tend to be Nordic or those in whiter cities of America such as Portland and Seattle.
When Japan attacked the US, white Americans were ready to fight back. White Americans had no history-as-horror-tale fantasy about how Japanese are so noble and how whites must atone for anti-yellow ‘racism’. Therefore, white Americans did what they had to do to defeat Japan. Black America since the 1960s has killed many more whites than Japanese did in World War II, but whites are helpless to do anything. The simple horribleness of black reality cannot be addressed and solved because of America’s taboos enforced by its PC fairytales.
Suppose you come down with sickness, and you grow sicker and sicker. Suppose it turns out you are sick because you’re stricken with a certain cancer. It’s really as simple as that. But in such simplicity is the horrible truth that you are getting sicker and might die soon. Suppose you pretend that it’s not really cancer that you’re afflicted with but some demon possession that is trying to take away your body and soul. It is more horror-istic, but it’s also therapeutic since you can tell yourself that you might be able to do something about it by summoning the power of God and angels. Even if you lose and must face death, you can tell yourself that you put up a good fight with the forces of light on your side against the forces of darkness. You might also tell yourself that, at the end of the battle lost, there awaits the hope of heaven. It’s like JACOB’S LADDER where a man’s death pangs become a fantasy battle between the forces of light and forces of darkness. Or consider the ending of ALL THAT JAZZ. The simple fact is Joe Gideon smokes too much and drinks too much. His heart is clogged and his liver is shot. He’s gonna die soon. But he dreams of a guardian angel and of putting on a grand finale that sums up what his life is all about.
Anyway, suppose you’re stricken with cancer. The fact is no amount of denial and fantasy is going to alter the fact that you have this horrible illness. But suppose, thankfully enough, there’s a cure for this cancer. There’s been a medical breakthrough. You may be saved. But suppose your religion forbids the implementation of this cure. So, the one ‘radical’ treatment that may save you goes unused. This horrible-ness x 2. There’s the horribleness of cancer that is killing you and the horribleness of your taboos that forbid the one treatment that can cure you.
US is stricken with a similar dilemma. America is afflicted with the Negro cancer, and that’s horrible enough. There is a cure through ‘radical’ racial separation. But the PC faith of America that worships MLK and some mountain-sized Negro who wuvs a wittle white mouse prevents America from doing the one the one thing that can save White America. But then, why is White America under such a delusion? A lot of it has to do with the Jewish virus that has infected the heart & soul of America and urges white Americans to commit racial suicide with the false religion of redemption via MLK, Jack Johnson, Kanye West, Oprah, Obama, Lavergne Cox, and the mountain-sized Negro who wuvs a wittle white mouse.
The meaning of therapy is ambiguous and oftentimes muddles than clarifies issues. Therapy can be confrontational or evasive. Confrontational therapy has its advantages and disadvantages, as does evasive therapy. If the repressed or hidden matter that is haunting someone’s psyche can be found and fixed, confrontational therapy can do some good. Air out the dirty laundry and clean it. But if the matter cannot be fixed, locating and exposing it might make things worse. It’s like a bullet wound. If the bullet can be found and removed from the body, ‘confrontational surgery’ is what is best. But if the bullet cannot be removed even if located or if the effort of removing it will lead to deeper scars and damage, it’s better to just leave the bullet where it is and just let it be surrounded by scar tissue. ‘Evasive non-surgery’ is better.
Some people suffer from psychological/emotional trauma or issues that might be confronted, identified, and fixed. But others have problems that cannot be fixed. Thus, dredging out the problem will only make things worse. It’s better not to perform ‘psycho-surgery’ that will expose the problem but fail to fix it. Suppose you have a scar tissue inside your body that causes aches. Suppose someone cuts your body open and exposes the scar but cannot fix it. The surgery will only have made it worse.SHANE was the hero reminded the kid that coolness is just a myth. It’s not what real life is all about. So, he tells the kid to return to his parents and take care of them. In reality, no one is really cool. Even the most famous end up like Muhammad Ali or O.J. Simpson. Youth goes by too fast. It wasn’t long before Ali was totally humiliated by Larry Holmes. So, life teaches us humility and fallibility of all things. Even the Nietzschean Will-to-Power stuff is just so much hot air. So, where was Richard Spencer’s Will-to-Power when he was arrested and treated like a bitch by Hungarian authorities? Neo-Fascist Humanism is the only thing that can save us. The effect of the idiotic cult of the cool can be seen in the godawful movie GONE GIRL, one of the most vapid pieces of crap I ever did see. Some might defend the movie as a satire on the cult-of-cool-culture, but I’d argue that it, like PULP FICTION, wallows in its own slime and filth. To be sure, it’s not as offensive as GIRL WITH A DRAGON TATTOO, sadistic revenge porn that pretends to have a moral message because... uh... the Nazis dun it! MULHOLLAND DR. explores the cultural landscape of the cool and stylish but exposes it as shallow and empty for both winners and losers. Hollywood is a festival of zombies.) In the past when most people were more ‘innocent’ and earnest and had smaller ambitions, they might be content with some little job, a family, and house. But with pop culture and celebrity mania, so many people grow up with dreams of being a ‘great big success’. So, unless one makes it, one feels like a ‘total failure’. Diane Selwyn could have had a decent life if she’d chosen something more realistic in life. But she fell in love with the dream of Hollywood stardom. When her star didn’t rise to the firmament, she fell into severe depression and fits of jealousy that led to the killing of her former lover that led to an even deeper spiral of depression.
On the other hand, is greatness and tragedies possible without delusions? If there were no Willy Lomans in the world, the world might be a happier place, but also one with less material for dramatists like Arthur Miller.
Given the mundane brutality of truth, many people need lies to go on living. These lies could be delusions, fantasies, hopes, or diversions, like how Woody Allen’s character in HANNAH AND HER SISTERS finally finds ‘meaning’ from a Marx Brothers movie. Actually, he doesn’t so much find the meaning-of-life as the meaning of the meaningless-of-life that can nevertheless be bearable with a sense of humor and absurdity. But there are manageable lies and there are out-of-control lies. In DEATH OF A SALESMAN, the lies eventually take over and consume Willy Loman.
Furthermore, because of the ambiguity of all the ‘signs’ and symbols that people employ, they can easily become lost in the meanings they seek and assume to understand. Consider Shakespeare’s MACBETH where the tragic hero is told that his domain will be safe as long as the forest doesn’t come to his castle. He is told no man born of a woman can destroy him. Macbeth feels confident because, after all, forests don’t have legs and can’t move around. And what man isn’t born of a woman? Yet, as lawyers know all too well, words have different meanings. While a forest itself cannot move, parts of the forest can be moved. And ‘born of a woman’ can mean being the product of a mother(which applies to all men), but it can also mean born from the vagina of a woman. Macbeth, in his wish to believe in his own invincibility, chose to cling to the most obvious meaning of what the witches told him, but there are OTHER meanings. Likewise in MULHOLLAND DR., Diane Selwyn takes bits and pieces of various images, words, & sounds and constructs meaning out of them to suit her psycho-agenda/narrative. But all these bits & pieces, all these fragments & puzzles, can be constructed in myriad ways, and finally, despite all the evasions, there remains the simple and brutal fact of reality that cuts through the web of lies. (Also, the same words can be played with different emotional meanings. Consider the audition-script that Betty received from Coco. When we first hear the words from the script shoot out of her lips at ‘Rita’, we think she’s angry with her newfound friend. But we soon find out that she’s just rehearsing and ‘Rita’ is helping her by reading the other part[rather unemotionally]. It’s a case of situational irony since ‘Rita’ is indeed an ‘actor’ of Diane Selwyn’s fever-dream mind-play. Even ‘Betty’ is a figment, an ideal of what Diane wants to be than what she is. Anyway, while ‘Rita’ reads the lines very flatly and perfunctorily, Betty reads the lines in a very straightforward manner with conventional emotions. She plays the angry daughter of a man whose friend is coming onto her. There’s no nuance, no shade in her rehearsal. And we assume that she plans to play it that way at the audition. But at the audition, as the other actor — a handsome older man type — pulls her close, Betty’s reading of the lines takes on an entirely different hue than in the earlier rehearsal with ‘Rita’. In the earlier rehearsal, she only expressed outrage at the man — whose lines are spoken by ‘Rita’ — coming onto her. And when she threatened ‘him’ with the kitchen knife, the anger of her character was palpable. But at the audition, the words are spoken in hushed tones of inner conflict. She wants to pull away from the embrace of the seducer — who’s sort of like the Hungarian playboy at the party in EYES WIDE SHUT — , but she finds herself fallen under his spell. She feels his power over her, and she can’t resist. She’s torn up inside, and tears flow from her eyes. Instead of commanding/controlling the emotions — as in her rehearsal with ‘Rita’ in the kitchen — , she finds herself helpless against the emotions that swell from within her. It’s as if she’s being chauffeured by some strange hidden logic of the role than in the driver’s seat. She becomes so entwined with the role that her performance is truly amazing. The contrast between her rehearsal and her audition parallels what happened to Diane Selwyn. Upon being ‘betrayed’ by Camilla, she felt the simple rage of vengeance and getting even. She was so sure that she hated Camilla and wanted her murdered, indeed more than anything else in the world. She felt like the Betty playing the angry daughter in the rehearsal in the kitchen. But after the murder has taken place, Betty finds herself overcome with emotions she never expected or anticipated — like Betty’s discovery of unexpected emotions in the audition. She finds herself more in love with Camilla than she ever thought possible. When Camilla was alive, Diane felt passion, lust, and even love for, but she also felt competitive, resentful, envious, touchy, and bitchy. She felt jilted when Camilla went off on her own to find glory in Hollywood. And this feeling of being hurt and betrayed had a restraining effect on Diane’s love for Camilla. If Camilla were alive, Diane would still want her and long for her, but her feelings of anger and betrayal would also make her hate her. But now that Camilla is dead and gone forever, no one can have her. If anything, since Diane’s love for her was the most intense — Kesher essentially wanted her as a trophy wife — , one could say Diane has a ‘spiritual’ claim on Camilla more than anyone else. No one loved Camilla with such obsession. Since Diane no longer has to compete with the dead Camilla, the envy and rage have ebbed and abated. Furthermore, since Diane had her murdered, she’s overcome with guilt and remorse — sort of like what Noodles feels about Max in ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA where the former was led to believe that his tip off to the cops sealed the fate of his dearest friend though, in fact, he was trying to save him. And since Diane cannot deal with this reality, she feels a need to create an alternate reality where she is ‘Betty’ and Camilla is ‘Rita’ and where they can be the best of friends and even lovers. The mind is a strange thing. It’s like the opening dance sequence of MULHOLLAND DR. plays tricks on our perception. There are actually just a handful of couples, but the screen looks filled up with lots of different dancers because the same couples have been duplicated within the frame. Much of MULHOLLAND DR. works according to the same logic. It’s all happening in the mind of one person, but the mind has duplicated, repeated, and multi-projected a handful of images, sounds, and emotions to epic proportions. Indeed, MULHOLLAND DR. is a rather low-budgeted indie movie — at least compared to most Hollywood productions — , but it has an epic feel and even epic-like length at 2 hrs and 25 min. It doesn’t have much in the way of special effects, and even the effects are mostly tools of ‘old cinema’. Also, some of the techniques might be called ‘crude’ and ‘primitive’, like moments of out-of-focus shaky camera. And yet, the mind is a vast infinite dark space of fantasy, memory, what-if-scenarios, mood spectrums, and anxieties. Lynch, by using the camera, sounds, and movements at key moments like unstable and faltering apparatuses of the mind, creates a epic/tragic/labyrinthine effect by intimating and hinting at unstable forces and endless variations of the mind. If Diane were to return to her mind-scenario again, it would likely play along the same basic lines but some of the old threads and moods would be lost and replaced by new ones. The mind may be infinite, but it’s also finite because obsession refocuses our minds on a limited number of ideas, images, and sounds that have the most appeal and meaning to us. There is no definite and final "director’s cut" in the realm of dream and fantasy. Dreams refresh, replenish, and repeat themselves but they simultaneously wilt, decay, and deteriorate. We don’t know how many times Diane Selwyn replayed her dream/fantasy in her mind — the woman with whom she switched apartments complains that Diane hadn’t responded to her visits for three weeks — , but the dream/fantasy likely always returns to the room where the dead and decaying body is found. The body probably signifies the murdered corpse of Camilla as well as Diane’s ‘spiritually’ wilting self rotting away as she navigates through dreams and fantasies on her bed. It’s also a premonition of what awaits Diane as she seems incapable of rising above her depression and returning to any kind of normal life. The detectives, the landlord, and creditors will be knocking on her door. She will likely end up homeless, especially as she lost the will to work and live.
In a way, Diane Selwyn in her fantasy keeps returning to the myth of her arrival in Los Angeles. Though it already happened in the past and she’s hit a brick wall since, by re-imagining her arrival — like Hitler descending from heaven in the opening of THE TRIUMPH OF THE WILL — , she can keep imagining a new beginning or the mythic beginning where everything turns out just swell and where even things that go wrong do so for reasons not of her failings or shortcomings but due to sinister forces beyond anyone’s control. This way, she can make believe that her success was due to her own talents and her failure was due to some dark monstrous conspiracy that stood in the way of her success. Also, in her fantasy, as ‘Rita’ is psycho-socially incapacitated and dependent on her support, ‘Betty’(as the alter ego of Diane) can still lay claim to her as a friend/lover despite her failure as actress due to some dark conspiracy. And since ‘Rita’ is so dependent on her, they can be friends forever in the dream.
In reality, Diane failed due to lack of talent. But not only did her career go nowhere but her dream-friend/lover Camilla chose to leave her because she found success, found a more glamorous lesbian lover, and decided to marry one of the hottest film directors in Hollywood. Diane has nothing. But in her fantasy, she could have had everything... but for the conspiracy. But even without success in Hollywood, she has ‘Rita’ as her best friend and lover. As ‘Rita’ is amnesiac, she is dependent on Betty to help her get around.
But then, since Diane imagines herself as ‘Betty’ to be so friendly, generous, and compassionate, she tries to help ‘Rita’ discover her true identity and self. After all, that’s what friends are for. But this generous side of Betty that aids ‘Rita’ to discover her true identity brings them closer to the truth that threatens the very nature of their relationship. The truth is that Betty is the persona of Diane and ‘Rita’ is the persona of Camilla. And Diane had Camilla killed. And contrary to the fantasy, Camille didn’t need any help from Diane. If anything, she’s the one who made it, and it was she who was in the position to lend a hand to Diane. And Camilla showed Diane apparent kindness by inviting her to a party at a Hollywood mansion. But then, the kindness turned out to be a form of cruelty as the evening only exposed Diane as a pitiable nobody who could only sit helpless and humiliated as Adam Kesher(the director) and Camilla announce that they are to be married.
For Diane, uncertain failure is more soothing than certain failure. As long as she re-imagines herself as ‘Betty’ arriving in Hollywood for a fresh new chance, it doesn’t matter if ‘Betty’ shall succeed or fail. Even if she’s doomed to failure, it’s something in the fuzzy ‘future’ than something already done and past. Diane is done-and-over as far as her chance of becoming a successful Hollywood star/actress is concerned. But as ‘Betty’, there’s the always hope of success; and even failure is only a possibility than a certainty. As such, it would only be an uncertain failure. Also, she could make believe that her failure was not due to her lack of talent or ability but some dark sinister force in the world. It’s like some Negroes prefer to blame all their failures on ‘racism’ or some evil ‘white conspiracy’ to get the ‘black man’. It’s like the surreal ‘talk’ that black parents have with their black sons who are led to believe that white cops and ‘white males’ like George Zimmerman is hiding behind every bush to shoot them down.
In a similar vein, the characters of KWIK STOP and IN COLD BLOOD dwell on the therapy of uncertain failure. As long as the wanna-be actor in KWIK STOP finds yet another excuse not to leave town and try his luck in the movie business, he can tell himself that he will make it sometime in the future. And if he never leaves town and never makes it and just grows old, he could look back and tell himself that IF he’d left town and gone for success, he might have made it. Thus, even his failure would have an element of ambiguity. Instead of looking back and knowing that he failed because he never had the talent, he could tell himself that he never made it because he never applied the talent. The Robert Blake character in IN COLD BLOOD keeps his hopes alive the same way. As long as he dreams of finding some sunken gold/treasure in Mexico, he can put the future ahead of him and pretend he has something to live for. And it was before Joe Buck actually went to New York that he had dreams of making it in MIDNIGHT COWBOY. Once in New York, he discovers he was never meant to be anything in life but a dishwasher or some menial laborer. If you have a feeling that you can’t make your dreams come true, don’t act on them. That way, you are burdened with uncertain failure than certain failure. With uncertain failure, you can always tell yourself that you could have made it if you tried. It’s like the uncle in NAPOLEON DYNAMITE who says crazy stuff about how he could have been such-and-such athlete.
Dreams take the form of pre-failure fantasies and post-failure fantasies. Pre-failure fantasies dwell on how everything may work out well. It’s like ‘Betty’ says she hopes to be both a great actress and a big star. Anything is possible. It’s like the world is her oyster. Because she won a jitterbug contest, she projects her optimism on the entire world as if everyone will be cheering for her like the audience at the dance contest. (Odd that there would be a jitterbug contest in the late 90s or early 2000s, but then she grew up in a small town. Something is clearly out-of-time, as with the Ball Room scene in THE SHINING and the big band jazz in MIRACLE MILE. Is it a post-modern thing? Adam Kesher himself seems to be making a pomo movie that is set in the early 60s. Could he be based on Quentin Tarantino, The hot American director of the 1990s whose sensibility is totally pomo? Indeed, the racing cars filled with teens in the first part of the movie — when ‘Rita’ is being driven to Mulholland Dr. in a limousine — could have been Diane’s mind going into pomo mode or ‘pomode’ and juxtaposing something out of the early 1960s with her contemporary world. She’s obviously seen her share of movies, and therefore, her fantasy draws on images and sounds from different eras seen in different movies. It’s telling that some people still use dial-up phones.)
Anyway, when people are met with failure, some people just accept the outcome and deal with the truth. But others cannot. So, they come to dwell on post-failure fantasies, and a particularly powerful kind overtakes Diane Selwyn. She clearly didn’t have the goods to cut it as an actress. She clearly lost the affection of her former friend/lover Camilla. Worse, Camilla is dead because of the hit Diane put on her. But Diane cannot accept any of these failures. So, she cooks up a post-failure fantasy. Post-failure fantasy works by willful amnesia. The mind pretends that all that happened didn’t happen and that the opportunity awaits once again, and everything will go right this time. It may even pretend that dead people are still alive. It may pretend that one possesses talents, skills, and secrets one doesn’t. If pre-failure fantasy is overly naive, post-failure fantasies are essentially corrupt, especially because of the willful ‘innocence’ induced by self-amnesia. In Diane’s fantasy, there’s such happy radiance about Betty as a fresh princess in Hollywood searching for a dream, but it is only possible by Diane’s willful and desperate suppression of the truth. To bury the evidence, Diane must play up the ‘innocence’ and ‘purity’ of ‘Betty’ to the hilt, but it is utterly at odds with the real Diane. And yet, on some deeper level, it isn’t entirely corrupt since Diane’s wish to be someone like ‘Betty’ is genuine. It’s true that Diane in real life is jealous, vindictive, and resentful, but she really does want to be someone like ‘Betty’ who is so good-hearted and generous. But then, Betty’s good-heartedness and generosity come with caveats. She displays them as sterling qualities to gain power and possession of ‘Rita’. Her fantasy of generosity is really the product of her jealousy and possessiveness. She wants Camilla so badly that in her fantasy, she wins the love and loyalty of ‘Rita’ through Betty’s show of infinite patience and compassion. But if Diane is truly a generous person, why doesn’t she join some Christian missionary and help out the wretched of the earth? She really wants to use her fantasy of generosity and compassion as ‘spiritual’ cosmetics to attract the love and even lust of ‘Rita’. And yet, she sincerely believes in the beauty of this dream with the heart of an angel. She will sell her soul to the devil to play angel with ‘Rita’.
Consider the contrasts between the pre-failure fantasy and post-failure fantasy in Alfred Hitchcock’s VERTIGO. Pre-failure fantasy is dark and grows intense, but it’s fueled with hope, however thorny it may be(because, after all, Madeleine is a married woman). But post-failure fantasy is haunted by gloom and doom because no matter how much Scottie yearns for Madeleine, she is gone forever. And yet, precisely because she is gone and impossible to retrieve, his obsessive passion grows even stronger to keep her alive in his heart and soul. It’s an insane cycle. Because she’s gone for good, his heart must work extra-hard to keep her alive in his soul. But this means he will yearn yet even more for a woman he can never have. It’s hard work to make the unreal into the ‘real’, and in possessing the illusion of the ‘real’, one’s obsession turns into an addiction, but the ‘real’ isn’t really real, and so, the withdrawal symptoms from the realization that the ‘real’ isn’t real grows ever darker and depressing when one periodically surfaces from the fever dream, delirium, or reveries. In the case of Diane Selwyn, she floors the mental/emotional accelerator to drive to her fantasy land, and her inner engine is being worn out. And in her confused and weary state, she’s also running low on fuel. But she keeps hitting the metal to the pedal into the lost highway. In the end, the final destination is not unlike the doom that awaits the protagonist of Federico Fellini’s TOBY DAMMIT, an adaptation of an Edgar Allan Poe short story.
The concept of the ‘other reality’, ‘inner realm’, or fantasy isn’t what makes MULHOLLAND DR. special. There are plenty of Walter-Mitty-ish stories, and there have been many movies about psychological imbalances, fantasies, and the like. Also, there have been many ‘limbo’ state movies, not least because — I suspect anyways — a lot of creative people have dabbled in drugs or were inspired by writers such as Philip K. Dick or William S. Burroughs. And with generations raised on computers, special effects, and mind-bending technology, the concept of ‘other-world-ness’ has become part of our cultural vernacular. But in most such films, these multi-dimensional ideas don’t amount to little more than gimmicks, effects, trickery, or weirdness. Consider the Sandra Bullock movie PREMONITION, Marisa Tomei movie DANIKA, Keanu Reeves movie THE LAKE HOUSE, Julianne Moore movie THE FORGOTTEN, Cameron Diaz movie THE BOX, Jake Gyllenhaal movie DONNIE DARKO, Leonard DiCaprio movie SHUTTER ISLAND, and many more. Most such films don’t amount to much since they lack sufficient psychological complexity/subtlety and emotional depth to elevate and expand themselves beyond exercises in experimentation or cleverness. Cleverness, even when brilliant, may impress as it happens but usually don’t linger in the viewer after it’s over. It’s like magic tricks can dazzle, but we don’t think of them after they’re over.
It’s the rare ‘limbo’ films like MULHOLLAND DR., MOTHMAN PROPHECIES, half of INCEPTION, THE OTHERS, TIME REGAINED, THE TRIAL(by Orson Welles despite its problems), VERTIGO, PERSONA, LA JETEE, INSOMNIA, and L’APPARTEMENT/WICKER PARK that really remain with us. In some of these films, the fantastical elements are real. Occult power does inhabit the world of MOTHMAN PROPHECIES. But in films like VERTIGO, TIME REGAINED, MULHOLLAND DR., and WICKER PARK(or EYES WIDE SHUT), there aren’t any phantom-like spirts in the literal sense, but the psychologies of the characters come under severe duress and begins to imagine things, and the barrier between dream and reality(or between fact and fantasy) begins to dissolve. Same goes for INSOMNIA and LAST TANGO IN PARIS. Al Pacino’s character’s mental state in INSOMNIA, auto-subverted by lack of sleep, anxiety about the investigation, and guilt over his dead partner, enters into a twilight state that is neither awake nor asleep, neither rational/moral nor irrational/amoral. In LAST TANGO IN PARIS, Marlon Brando’s character is so distraught and guilt-ridden over the death of his wife that he tries to hide from the world and create an alternate space in which he has no name and no shame. But of course, the division between the real and ‘unreal’ cannot be sustained indefinitely, as indeed Diane Selwyn discovers in MULHOLLAND DR. It’s like Hermann Hesse’s STEPPENWOLF or JOURNEY TO THE EAST where one’s never sure where reality ends and dream begins.
This ambiguity is very much at the core of certain genres, especially the horror and science fiction. Mystery genre may be filled with uncertainty, but it usually ends with reason and clarity winning over confusion and anxiety. There is the detective or private eye to unearth and explain it all. In horror, forces of good may win over forces of evil, but the strangeness of occult powers remains. In certain kinds of science fiction, a kind of ‘limbo’ state is created because we can no longer tell what is human and what is machine. Or we can no longer tell what is real and what is ‘virtual’. Like Diane Selwyn goes on a mind journey to recover through personal myth the lost lover/friend Camilla in the form of ‘Rita’, the son in TRON LEGACY enters a virtual ‘tronic’ universe to reconnect with his lost father. Like Camilla has a double in the form of ‘Rita’, the father has a double in the form of the sinister ‘Clu’.
Anyway, the idea of fantasy is nothing in fiction. Many books and movies are pure fantasy, and the whole point is for us to escape into this la-la-land where dreams come true or where nightmares give us frightful pleasures. Most fantasies make us forget about the world, and most horror movies, even when they scare us, don’t really disturb us. We know that the world of horror is safely divorced from any world we know. In contrast to such films are the realist films and fiction, docu-dramas, and social/political storytelling. They claim to bring us closer to the problems of ‘reality’ as mainly defined by problems of ‘ordinary people’, struggles of ‘poor people’, the tribulations of the ‘oppressed’, or challenges of social activists. Some are more intelligent and artier than others, but they tend to eschew elements that might be genre-like or unrealistic, though the ‘school of writing’ known as ‘magic realism’ sought to combine social commentary/satire with mysticism/poetic imagination.
But then, there are films like MULHOLLAND DR. that are difficult to categorize because, on the one hand, they seem to fit into the genre mold. Based on how it begins, David Lynch’s film might be considered film noir, murder mystery, fairytale, satire, horror, surrealism, comedy, gangster film, or even science fiction with the appearance of the strange blue box. And yet, it fits no single mold. Just when we think it’s a comedy and stick in the appropriate mental key, it won’t turn and calls for a different genre key. Consider the scene where Adam Kesher had to go see the ‘cowboy’. It sounds very silly. Kesher is hiding out from gangsters, and all of a sudden, he has to see some guy called the ‘cowboy’? We laugh along with him. And when he’s face to face with the ‘cowboy’, it all seems very amusing. But the ‘cowboy’ won’t have any of it, and he commands the attention and even respect of Kesher who realizes this isn’t some joking matter. And in an earlier scene, two men are seen in a restaurant. It starts out sort of funny. One guy — who looks like an Armenian — tells his friend that he had a weird dream about being in this restaurant. And the friend smiles, and it seems sort of funny. Then the guy relates how the dream turned into a terrible nightmare in which he met some guy whose horrible face scared the living daylights out of him. The light comedic mode quickly dissipates, and soon enough, he realizes that he is in the dream he’s talking about, which means he faces the prospect of seeing the man with the horrible face once again. Unlike a genre movie that can stick to one mode, the human mind is far less stable, and dream-space won’t play by consistent genre rules. Diane Selwyn, in her dazed stupor, may dream up sunny and cheerful moments in her fantasies, but they are threatened and subverted by her fears, anxieties, and aches. When her mood grows dark, her mind might settle for something like a horror-genre mode, but even that cannot hold for long since the human mind is always shifting gears from one mode to another. It lacks the strict discipline that an artist/entertainer can apply to his work. It is how Lynch caught this crazy unstable nature of the mental-mood processes that makes MULHOLLAND DR. stand above most films of its kind. This unstable aspect of the mind is elusive, shifty, murky, vague, opaque, and fragile. This is why directors who try to make fantasies and dreams seem overly ‘different’ fail since the strangeness has been made all too obvious as STRANGENESS. When vagueness and opacity have been made obvious and visible, it sort of defeats the purpose. Only a handful of artists have really been successful in conveying the evasive essence of dream state, and even they hit the bull’s eye only a few times. Think of David Cronenberg with eXistenZ, Stanley Kubrick with THE SHINING, Luis Bunuel with LOS OLVIDADOS, Alfred Hitchcock with VERTIGO, Christopher Nolan with INSOMNIA, Kenji Mizoguchi with UGETSU, Carl Dreyer with VAMPYR, Steven Spielberg with A.I., and some others. MULHOLLAND DR. is very near the top, and it’s all the amazing since Lynch utilized the simplest tools to create the effect. What Lynch does with a simple shot of L.A. city lights — buzzing like so many neurons — , clumsy focusing mechanism of camera lens, a veiled old woman who looks like Stevie Nicks who comes knocking at Betty’s place of temporary residence, a morose gangster negotiator who spews coffee from his mouth on a napkin, the light flicking on and off next to a cow skull nailed to a wooden arch, and etc. seem terribly simple and yet they are so evocative and foreboding of something deeper, darker, and dangerous. But then, techniques alone wouldn’t have done this trick. BLUE VELVET(much admired by some though not by me) and LOST HIGHWAY employ similar(and even fancier)techniques, but they aren’t as effective because their characters and narratives simply aren’t as compelling as the story of ‘Betty’ and ‘Rita’ in MULHOLLAND DR. We react more powerfully to every little trick or technique in MULHOLLAND DR. because we find the two characters — and even Adam Kesher and few others — so interesting, mysterious, amusing, and/or captivating. It’s like the same clothes, hat, and makeup will have an entirely different effect depending on who’s donning them. Audrey Hepburn was killer in the black dress and hat in BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S, but the same outfit wouldn’t have created the same effect with any other women. Despite the ‘auteur theory’, Orson Welles was right when he said characters and actors are crucial to whether a movie works or not. All the techniques and effects, however masterful or brilliant they may be, are essentially wardrobe of the characters and their emotional/psychological substance. LOST HIGHWAY and INLAND EMPIRE don’t really work because they’re Lynchian wardrobes without anyone interesting to fit them. To be sure, there are films like ERASERHEAD and 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY where the characters are almost superfluous. The guy in ERASERHEAD is hardly a character in the conventional sense, and the main character of 2001 may actually be Hal the computer. Even so, the guy in ERASERHEAD has an unforgettable look and presence throughout. He may not ‘act’ out his characteristics, but his features suit the material perfectly. And David Bowman, though not the most exciting or engaging person, does radiate with intelligence, courage, and determination, with cool under duress.
Though ‘cinephiles’ and cultural intellectual types often praise ‘avant-garde’ and ‘unconventional’ works, time and time again it’s seems to be the case that the most profoundly affecting and effective ‘experimental’ works tend to have at their core something that is humanly recognizable and accessible. It’s like the best sauces and spices need something real and substantive to be applied on. Not surprisingly then, Alain Resnais’ MURIEL is a far greater work than JE T’AIME JE T’AIME and some others. MURIEL applies experimentation on characters and subjects rife with real emotions of human/historical experience whereas it’s difficult to get much worked up about the abstract emotions of JE T’AIME JE T’AIME that traipse through card-board characters. Supposedly, the latter work has to do with grief over a man’s lost wife, but we don’t believe in any of the characters. Likewise, I didn’t see anyone in BLUE VELVET as anything other than a cartoon character. And I still haven’t bothered to see WILD AT HEART which just sounds stupid. And LOST HIGHWAY lost me. And INLAND EMPIRE seemed like Lynch goofing around with a home movie. As Francis Ford Coppola demonstrated with ONE FROM THE HEART, directorial experimentation isn’t enough to make any movie. A movie needs a compelling subject and characters and story/situation. And Lynch really found one with MULHOLLAND DR., which along with ERASERHEAD, has elevated his name to the pantheon of great film artists.