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Fan Phenomena

 Twin Peaks


Edited by Marisa C. Hayes & Franck Boulègue


Bristol: Intellect, 2013

Paperback. 128 p. ISBN 978-1783200245. £14.95


Reviewed by David Roche

 Université Toulouse Le Mirail – Toulouse 2



This book is one of the first in the new Fan Phenomena Series by Intellect, which is “dedicated to providing an entertaining and informative look at cultural icons, and their ongoing impact in the areas of fan media, philosophy, economy, fashion, language and more” [5]. It includes a brief introduction that insists on Twin Peaks’ success and ongoing popularity, ten chapters and three short interviews with fans (the co-owner of a video store in Memphis, the founder of and a film programmer at the National Museum of Singapore) who are contributing in various ways to keeping the Twin Peaks phenomenon alive.

The first four chapters offer overviews of the impact of Twin Peaks on TV, fashion and performance art, the fifth a study of the feature film, the sixth and seventh assessments of Twin Peaks’ relationship to contemporary theoretical frameworks, and the last three character studies. “Chapter 1: Peaks and Pop Culture” by Shara Lorea Clark discusses various references to Twin Peaks in popular shows and its influence on contemporary TV series. “Chapter 2: Audrey in Five Outfits” by Angela K. Bayout examines the meaning of a character’s clothes in specific scenes, Audrey Horn having since become a fashion icon with independent e-retailers. “Chapter 3: Embodiment of the Mystery: Performance and Video Art Go Twin Peaks” by Gry Worre Hallberg and Ulf Rathjen Kring Hansen look at some commercials, including those made by Lynch himself, as well as performances and video art that tap into Twin Peaks imagery, a phenomenon that has been of some importance in Sweden since the 2000s. “Chapter 4: The Owls Are Not What They Seem: Cultural Artifacts of Twin Peaks” by Andrew Howe looks at a selection of Twin Peaks memorabilia that can be purchased on-line. In “Chapter 5: ‘Yeah, but the Monkey Says, Judy’ : A Critical Approach to Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me,” Scott Ryan and Joshua Minton contend that the film is an integral part of the Twin Peaks experience and that it does, in a sense, answer some of the questions left dangling at the end of the series, notably in the Convenience Store scene [58]. “Chapter 6: The Dream Logic of Twin Peaks” by Kelly Bulkeley argues that the portrayal of dreams in both the series and the film resonates with current research into the phenomenology of dreaming. In “Chapter 7: Twin Peaks and the ‘Disney Princess’ Generation,” David Griffith gives an interesting account of how teaching the series to his college students ultimately highlighted some of the tensions between Second and Third Wave feminism. “Chapter 8: Bond on Bond : Laura Palmer and Agent Cooper in Twin Peaks” by David Bushman analyses the function of Laura Palmer and Dale Cooper as complementary characters. “Chapter 9: Strange Spaces : Cult Topographies in Twin Peaks” by Fran Pheasant-Kelly looks at the various places in Twin Peaks that fans have grown attached to. “Chapter 10: Gothic Daemon BOB” by Chris Murray examines the function of the character of BOB in terms of Gothic heritage and ancient Greek tragedy.

If Fan Phenomena : Twin Peaks does not entirely pertain to fan studies, it is clearly aimed at fans whom it rightly assumes to form an intelligent community. Each piece is written with an enthusiasm and appreciation of Twin Peaks that are contagious; many are insightful, and some draw attention to little-known facts and fan phenomena. As a work of academic research, however, the book suffers from several flaws. Most of the chapters refer very little to the abundant secondary sources on the TV series available in various languages; many are frankly more descriptive than analytical, and some are a bit disorganised, hesitate between a semiological or audience-studies approach, or fail to distinguish between objects of study that might have similar uses for fans but very different uses for their makers. It would have been useful to point out that The Killing (2011-) [13] is a remake of the Danish series Forbrydelsen (2007-2012), thus corroborating Chapter 3’s argument that the influence of Twin Peaks is transnational, or to remember that the Hitchcock movie with the poisoned milk is Suspicion (1941) and not Notorious (1946) [102]. Of course, my view of the book is biased as I am not only a Lynch fan but also a Lynch scholar. Other Twin Peaks fans may be better suited to appreciate the book’s qualities. All in all, the book shows that addressing two communities is never easy and the authors endeavour, indeed, to do so. In this respect, Intellect’s experiment with this series is highly commendable and must be pursued, for not only are both communities often linked, but they have a lot to give each other.


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