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Note: This is the introduction to a paper on David Lynch and Erasurehead written for an Independent Film class at the
University of Pittsburgh. I wasn’t very fond of Mr. Lynch at the time and I’m not exactly his biggest fan today. That said, I no
longer stand behind the somewhat vitriolic opinions expressed here. This excerpt is intended only as a demonstration of my
writing ability.

Adam Page
American Independent Film

David Lynch and the Inescapable Cult of Eraserhead

David Lynch has been something of a scourge in my life. He’s a very popular director among
my age group. Consequently, I’ve seen all his films more than once (excepting Straight Story,
which I’ve never seen) and usually against my will. My friends are astonished at my inability
to appreciate his trippy, dark sensibility. While I’ve got nothing against dark sensibilities, I
definitely have a problem with being fed a load of bull, which is—let’s face it—what Lynch is
most adept at serving up.

Eraserhead, Lynch’s only truly independent feature, is a touchstone film for a certain breed of
twentysomething. It’s well known to any student of the liberal arts. People still flock to midnight
screenings thirty years after its original release. For many, viewing the film for the first time
serves as a rite of passage, helping to cement social standing within a group of friends. The first
time I saw Erasurehead I was baffled. Why were so many of my generation drawn to this film?

As a pure filmmaker, Lynch is certainly gifted. I’ve often found myself drawn deep into the
visual world he creates. The costumes, lighting and editing in his films are often impeccable.
As a storyteller, however, he leaves something to be desired. Clearly many of his films are not
meant to have a traditional narrative arc, and that’s fine. But most of his experimental films have
no semblance of characterization or real emotional connect, partly because they are plagued by
innocuous stylized acting, writing and staging. His detached sensibility puts an insurmountable
wall between the viewer and any identification with any person or thing in his films. And
worse, the films are rampant with so-called “symbolic” images whose connections to the
overall “narrative” (such as it is) are tenuous at best. Among most Lynch adherents these are the
most praiseworthy elements of his art. On some college campus somewhere right now two young
men are having an intense discussion about what Erasurehead’s deformed baby represents. If
I were to step in and suggest that perhaps the baby is just some freaky idea Lynch thought up
because he thought it would look cool and seem meaningful, they would almost certainly erupt in
derisive laughter. The implication being that there is something there that those who see little to
connect with in these films are just not getting. It’s simply infuriating.

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