Saturday, October 5, 2013

Literature Review

            Despite its enduring popularity, not much academic work has been conducted about Twin Peaks. When searching the show in the Communications and Mass Media Complete library of EBSCO, only 18 academic journals appear, with even fewer of these – three – directly addressing the portrayals of women or sexuality within the program’s two season run. Two of these three findings celebrate Lynch’s informative approach to how rape and incest is presented in the context of white, middle-/upper-class society. In one of these essays, the author writes that, “by sympathetically focusing its audience's attention on the sexual victimization of women, Twin Peaks demands that its audience understand not just that sexual violence occurs, but that our culture tolerates a range of practices that serve to authorize violence against women” (Davenport & Smith, 1993, p. 255). I disagree with Davenport and Smith’s argument that Laura Palmer is not portrayed as the Seductive Daughter and that the show does not contribute to the victim-blaming technique present in rape culture. Twin Peaks does little to condemn this “range of practices” or even the rapist himself, instead focusing largely on Laura Palmer and what she did to get raped, rather than what our society does to encourage rape. However, I agree with Davenport and Smith that it is commendable for prime time television to be introducing the topic of rape, incest, and abuse as a “norm” within white, middle-/upper-class families. This is the first rape myth which Twin Peaks expels when it introduces the rape and murder of Laura Palmer into an almost entirely white, middle-/upper-class neighborhood.

            I agree with Sue Lafky when she writes of Twin Peaks that “it is hard to read the show as offering a progressive vision of the social world” (Lafky, 1999, p. 10). I will be using some of her insights in my own work, as they are reflective of many of the major findings that I contribute to this dialogue of Twin Peaks with a feminist approach. However, instead of focusing on incest, I will focus largely on how Twin Peaks supports rape culture and contributes to media’s constant reproduction of rape culture.


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