Prostitute is the real protaganist?

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Joined: May 2002
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I've only seen MD once, so I can't give oodles of evidence like you all. But I definitely got a sex abuse vibe during this film. Especially Betty's strange and sudden change of behaviour during the acting scene, and the same during the second sex scene, and the peculiar violence in the masturbation. Etc. Moving from innocent to violent abuser, the real Diane getting into relationship with an abuser. Not to mention compartmentalization of various personalities. It all fit for me. (I won't rehearse the other evidence contained in the seven pages of the sex abuse thread.)

But here I'll go on a limb. Right after I saw the film, I thought the real protagonist was the prostitute who's hanging out with the hit man. This scene seems strangely real and out of place of the fantasies that surround it. The prostitute (Diane?) gets into the blue van with an older guy. The various scenerios could be Diane's mental escape during that sex which takes place in the van, a reminding of her original sexual abuse. There was also an "escort" feel to Diane and Camilla going to the dinner party. Perhaps connected Camilla would occassionally inivite prostitute Diane to higher class "escort" events. This explanation makes sense of Camilla's "I really want you there" line. Coco's rolling eyes make more sense now, as does the other woman's kiss.

I later dropped this theory because it seemed too much to hang the whole film on that flimsy scene when there was a much richer reality painted at the pool party. Sexual abuse is not the central theme of the movie. Also, the sex abuse theme is not inconsistent with the "jilted lover" or the "hollywood-whore" themes. I think they're all in the film.

jk
May 30, 2002 6:22 PM
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But which one?
Sep 22, 2002 1:26 AM
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jkandell, I also believe prostitute (together w failed actress / waitress) is the protagonist.

The scene w the hitman, prostitute and the older man cuts right into - actually interrupts - the scene in the bedroom where Rita shows Betty the contents of her purse (which contains lots of money and the futuristic blue key). Betty then - immediately when we are cut back to the bedroom scene - says (something like): "where did you get all that money / where does the money come from".

Also, hitman tells Diane she will find a blue key when the deed is done. Diane finds the key INSIDE her apartment, which hints at a closer connection between her and hitman than what is seen when the the hit is ordered at Winkies. Possibly, hitman is making ends meet also as call-girl organiser / pimp ?

In an earlier thread I also touched upon this subject:

"Waitressing and prostitution are probably the careers - in real life - pursued by Diane, apart from occasional film roles.

Both waitress and prostitute resemble Diane much. Waitress wears name tag saying "Diane" and "Betty" respectively in the two parts of the film. Prostitute smokes and wears jeans of the brand "Diesel", as Diane is also wearing in real life. Although we do not see Diane smoking, ashtray in Dianes appartment shows lots of cigarette butts.

Social connections with a hitman is probably more common among prostitutes than waitresses or actresses.

We do not know for sure, but inherited money is presumably spent as we get to know the real Diane late in the film. Diane makes the impression of a person whose spent all her resources, both emotionally and financially. It does not seem likely that she all of a sudden - through increasingly less occasional film roles - could come up with such a large amount of money to pay for the hit.

If male couple at Winkies are to depict Diane and Rita,(male person Dan dying when he meets evil, just as Diane dies when she is confronted with evil), it is likely that also waitress and prostitute are meant to depict Diane."
Sep 22, 2002 5:40 AM
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Is it possible that any attempt to codify the identity of a female protagonist for 'Mulholland Dr.' will ultimately fail?

Is such a line of thought too literal?

Is it instead possible that this film is meant to be a kind of elegy for women, or even a specific kind of woman, and that the self-similar, fair-haired young women that populate the world of the film create a network of diffuse identity, rather than a path to a specific protagonist? Is the film a kind of iterative, cyclic meditation on the shadow reality of the Hollywood superorganism; a creature that attracts, processes and expends a continual stream of dream-driven young women?

And others besides?
Sep 22, 2002 6:30 AM
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by Rochas
Is it possible that any attempt to codify the identity of a female protagonist for 'Mulholland Dr.' will ultimately fail?[...]Is it instead possible that this film is meant to be a kind of elegy for women, or even a specific kind of woman, and that the self-similar, fair-haired young women that populate the world of the film create a network of diffuse identity, rather than a path to a specific protagonist? Is the film a kind of iterative, cyclic meditation on the shadow reality of the Hollywood superorganism; a creature that attracts, processes and expends a continual stream of dream-driven young women?[/QUOTE]

An interesting idea, Rochas, and surely true to some extent. Lynch clearly does mean MD to be about the "shadow reality of the Hollywood superorganism." Nonetheless, there do seem to be too many personal connections between Betty/Rita and Diane/Camilla to be mere "elegy for a specific kind of woman". The wish-fulfillment logic gets fulfilled too well for this to be chance.

I should also point out that this thread was one of my first posts, which I don't fully agree anymore. My hypothesis right after seeing the film was that the prostitute going into the van was the real protagonist of the film and that the whole film took place as her mental block-out of the prostitute sex in the blue van. Hence even the Diane at the party was a fantasized version ("call girl" rather than "prostitute") . I also thought her pimp was a natural person to fantasize as a hit man against Camilla. I don't really believe that any more. But even so it is still possible that the "real" Diane is the druggie street hooker we see, who sometimes dresses up for call-girl gigs with Camilla, her lover. It is possible Camilla herself was never an actress, but appears to be one relative to Diane because she hangs with actors and producers. It is possible Diane and the hitman had a "professional" relationship outside the hit. I don't think any of those possibilities change the fundamental discussion of the film in the other threads.

jk
Sep 22, 2002 8:54 AM
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Move beyond your compensatory dream-in-the-truck, jkandell, and follow me.

Instead imagine a network of women, or similar age and even sensibility, very aware of their relative places in a system of exchange based upon appearance, talent, willpower, personal connections, blind luck, and so on.

Nothing unusual, so far, you?ll agree.

Next, imagine between them a narrative combining strands of desire, fulfilment, loss, loyalty, betrayal, etc. Weave into this narrative darker elements, involving criminals (petty and organised), drug use, and prostitution ranging from up-market call-girls to streetwalkers.

Demonstrate the temporary respite that two or more of these women receive via forgoing more conventional (and therefore more power-circumscribed) forms of sexual intimacy.

Allow one of these women to successfully make the evolutionary step upwards in her career, but at the expense of her once-peers, who have now become a liability. Picture one moment of deepest betrayal, one that happens to trigger a terrible event, but results in a consuming feeling of loss, emptiness, and regret.

Next, dream a dream that combines these deeply-felt elements, and uses aspects of these women - or archetypes of women - to communicate their world.

Again, nothing too revolutionary.

What I wonder, though, is if the real tragedy is that none of these women really made the evolutionary step, and that the dynamic of wish-fulfilment is not one sourced from jealousy, but from the clamour of unobtainable desire.
Sep 22, 2002 4:23 PM
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by Rochas
Move beyond your compensatory dream-in-the-truck, jkandell, and follow me. Instead imagine a network of women, or similar age and even sensibility, very aware of their relative places in a system of exchange based upon appearance, talent, willpower, personal connections, blind luck, and so on.
[...]Next, dream a dream that combines these deeply-felt elements, and uses aspects of these women - or archetypes of women - to communicate their world.[...]
What I wonder, though, is if the real tragedy is that none of these women really made the evolutionary step, and that the dynamic of wish-fulfilment is not one sourced from jealousy, but from the clamour of unobtainable desire.[/QUOTE]

Is MD about a bunch of separate narratives, or the multiple imagined lives of one person? The main reasons I hold the common view that Betty/Rita was a wish-fulfillment of Diane (and not a separate concurrent narrative) are (1) Betty and Rita just happen to fit the fantasy of what Diane would wish, and that's too much of a coincidence, (2) Betty and Rita are exagerated characters and don't seem "real", as opposed to Diane and Camilla. To be honest, I'm not sure if it really matters much which of us is right, since whether interrelated but separate or different sides to one person, the same dynamics play themselve out.

jk
Sep 23, 2002 10:04 PM
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TristanLove, try the enclosed.
Sep 24, 2002 12:13 AM
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TristanLove,

I've felt that the whole point of a forum is to have (and develop) opinions, theories, approaches. It probably should be like a bumper-car ride; and there's no point playing bumper-cars with a bunch of people who circle without contact.

As for this avatar, it's really just effective lighting to show off those cheekbones.

I also think that this is more likely to be her 2:15am "I forgot to pay my phone bill" look, rather than an "I want to suck your blood" look.
Sep 24, 2002 2:21 AM
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jkandell,

Sure, I think it is obvious that we have a top-level narrative going here, with dual-roles for each key actress, etc. This isn't 'Magnolia' or 'Short Cuts,' or 'Lantana.'

Call me nuts, but I am going to keep working on my 'diffuse identity theory.'

A question though; you mentioned that you work in the mind sciences, and I wonder whether you get the impression that Lynch is following documented psychological states and disorders for his characters, or if you feel he is creating character weaknesses without limiting himself to established psychological or psychiatric case-knowledge?


P.S. for TristanLove,

I like the old Kate Moss avatar. It suits.
Sep 25, 2002 6:50 AM
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by Rochas
Sure, I think it is obvious that we have a top-level narrative going here, with dual-roles for each key actress, etc. This isn't 'Magnolia' or 'Short Cuts,' or 'Lantana.'[...]
Call me nuts, but I am going to keep working on my 'diffuse identity theory.'[/quote]

Forgive me, but then I'm confused. If you admit the various stories are part of one story, unlike, e.g., Magnolia or Short Cuts, then where does the "diffuse identity" come in? If all you're saying is that there is an additional subtext to the dream narrative, about the way Hollywood eats up a class of person, then I'm with you. But why call this "diffuse identity" and not just a class of person (in the sociological sense)? Forgive me if I'm missing your view.

[quote]A question though; you mentioned that you work in the mind sciences, and I wonder whether you get the impression that Lynch is following documented psychological states and disorders for his characters, or if you feel he is creating character weaknesses without limiting himself to established psychological or psychiatric case-knowledge?[/quote]

I've thought about that, as you might guess, since "Dianes" come in every day to my office. (I work at a community mental health clinic.) What would I diagnose her if she were my client? Probably Adjustment Disorder, chronic, with mixed disturbance of mood and disturbance of conduct, rule/out Post traumatic stress disorder. A lot would depend on what state she was in when she arrived: She would likely also have either Dissociative Amnesia, Dissociative Fugue, or Dissociative Identity Disorder. I would also rule out Schizophrenia, for obvious reasons. And she would also have Dependent Personality Disorder, but I would leave that off at this point so as to not confuse things since that's besides the point at this stage.

One thing to keep in mind, Rochas, is that these "documented psychological states" have enormous variation within them, and the label is just a way to talk in short hand about complex states with other professionals; it is not like the documented state itself determines the psychological condition.

Did Lynch portray a realistic person? Yes, he did. One reason I love this film is that the people I see clinically with that level of mental illness seem very similar to Diane. She is quite similar to the severely traumatized women and e.g. traumatized immigrants (e.g. bosian, rowandan) I work with, including the hallucinatinos and delusions. Of course Diane was probably a different person with a different diagnosis before she "snapped," but I see those too.

PS. You used an out-of-date DSM in your pic, :-) I think you mean...
Sep 25, 2002 8:18 AM
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by Rochas
jkandell,


A question though; you mentioned that you work in the mind sciences, and I wonder whether you get the impression that Lynch is following documented psychological states and disorders for his characters, or if you feel he is creating character weaknesses without limiting himself to established psychological or psychiatric case-knowledge?

[/QUOTE]

Lynch mentioned in an interview, that during the writing of Lost Highway, someone was reading a book about psychological disorders. Lynch picked it up and started reading it, and got real excited about a condition known as a 'psychogenic fugue'. This disorder is brought about by a traumatic ordeal, it causes the sufferer to go off into their own little world, a sort of escape mechanism if you will. He liked the idea of the psychogenic fugue so much that he decided to incorporate it into his screenplay: Lost Highway. And I guess he liked the theme so much he couldn't stop at just one movie!
Sep 25, 2002 7:25 PM
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by woodlouse
Lynch mentioned in an interview, that during the writing of Lost Highway, someone was reading a book about psychological disorders. Lynch picked it up and started reading it, and got real excited about a condition known as a 'psychogenic fugue'. This disorder is brought about by a traumatic ordeal, it causes the sufferer to go off into their own little world, a sort of escape mechanism if you will.[/QUOTE]

This is now called <i>Dissociative Fugue</i>. The person travels away from home with no memory of his or her past and assumes a new identity.

jk
Sep 25, 2002 8:42 PM
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by jkandell


This is now called <i>Dissociative Fugue</i>. The person travels away from home with no memory of his or her past and assumes a new identity.

jk
[/QUOTE]



As in: becoming Betty when you're really Diane.

The disorder is still known as psychogenic fugue - it is a specific form of dissociative disorder.

The person doesn't necessarily stray away from home in every case. Sometimes they may stay in their home, afraid to leave.

Psychogenic Fugue is the assumption of a new identity and the inability to
recall one's previous identity; it involves a complete switch in
lifestyle, including home and/OR work recall. This is usually caused by
severe psychosocial stress, such as severe marital problems, being a
part of military conflict, or being in some type of natural disaster.

Psychogenic Amnesia is a sudden inability to recall important personal
information, when not due to any organic cause. Like Psychogenic Fugue,
this is usually caused by severe psychosocial stress

Both psychogenic fugue and psychogenic amnesia are sudden, and they both
are usually fairly short-lived, with a complete recovery made. They are
most common during wartime or just after a natural disaster.
Sep 25, 2002 9:20 PM
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jkandell,

What I'm suggesting with my 'diffuse identity theory' is essentially that the identity of the protagonist may not rest at any single interconnected node (i.e. character) within the story, but rather moves between them all. Common experience minus personal individuation equals the amount and kind of diffusion. And whereas most filmic narratives follow one or more characters along their path, we are here following many at once, and experiencing a vague trauma as we see them intermingle, and recognise new interpretations.

I'm going to look into your comments on Diane's possible mental dysfunctions, as they are interesting. And thank you for the updated (though less tome-like) image of the DSM-IV manual.

I'm very impressed at your description of your work, and am also conscious of the poor-treatment mental health professionals have received at the hands of film-makers generally. It hardly seems fair, really.

Lastly, TristanLove, I was under the impression your amber-coloured avatar was of Kate Moss. I can't check, though, for at the moment you appear to be Winona again. If I was incorrect, my apologies for any confusion.

I also read your posting on the adjacent thread regarding your personal history. I hope things improve with time, but I also wanted to ask if films (and art generally) seem to help you in your process?
Sep 26, 2002 2:03 AM
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by jkandell


This is now called <i>Dissociative Fugue</i>. The person travels away from home with no memory of his or her past and assumes a new identity.

jk
[/QUOTE]

Actually this ties in very nicely with my belief that Diane is actually Rita in her dream...not Betty.
Sep 26, 2002 5:48 AM
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by woodlouse
The disorder is still known as psychogenic fugue - it is a specific form of dissociative disorder.
The person doesn't necessarily stray away from home in every case. Sometimes they may stay in their home, afraid to leave.
Psychogenic Fugue is the assumption of a new identity and the inability to recall one's previous identity; it involves a complete switch in lifestyle, including home and/OR work recall. This is usually caused by severe psychosocial stress, such as severe marital problems, being a part of military conflict, or being in some type of natural disaster. Psychogenic Amnesia is a sudden inability to recall important personal information, when not due to any organic cause. Like Psychogenic Fugue, this is usually caused by severe psychosocial stressBoth psychogenic fugue and psychogenic amnesia are sudden, and they both are usually fairly short-lived, with a complete recovery made. They are
most common during wartime or just after a natural disaster.[/QUOTE]

I hate to pull rank, Woodlouse, but what used to be called (pre 1994) psychogenic fugue and psychogenic amnesia are now called dissociative fugue and dissociative amnesia (DSM-iv, and dsm-iv-tr). Likewise, "multiple personality" is now called "Dissociative Identity Disorder", to better capture what's occuring in these cases. With D.Fugue the person must suddenly leave their work or home, they can't just be stuck at home as you describe. I don't want to make too much of this, since your descriptions are not way off base or nothing; but technically you are not using the right terms nor defining them correctly as defined by the American Psychiatric Association/DSM and the mental health professions.

Can we still be friends? :-)

jk
Sep 26, 2002 7:10 AM
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by Rochas
What I'm suggesting with my 'diffuse identity theory' is essentially that the identity of the protagonist may not rest at any single interconnected node (i.e. character) within the story, but rather moves between them all. Common experience minus personal individuation equals the amount and kind of diffusion.[/quote]

I think I see what you're saying, and it gives another "spin" to MD. In other words, it's not we must choose to interpret MD either as the dream narrative of one character or as diffuse identity, but, rather, two valid ways of viewing the same phenomenon, each with its own rewards. What allows your interpretation plausibility is that the main character has dissociation, so in some sense there are several people in one. At the same time, she "splits" (as we say in psychology) other characters into other characters in her dream. This creates a narrative ambiguity: we can view MD as the split narrative of one person, or we can view MD as the diffuse narrative of multiple identities. The unique feature of MD is thus that it involves <i>both</i> multiple versions of the same people (a la Wizard of Oz) and interweaving narrative of different people (a la Magnolia), stemming from the dialectic of dissociation. I think Lynch plays up this ambiguity to the hilt. The "reality" of the Monster, as a separate almost God like character, is a good example. Is this a separate "Spirit", some sort of hollywood system, fate, or just Diane's inner demon? Lynch leaves it ambiguous--it works any way you take it.

[quote]I'm very impressed at your description of your work, and am also conscious of the poor-treatment mental health professionals have received at the hands of film-makers generally. It hardly seems fair, really.[/quote]

I am trying to think of a film where therapy is portrayed accurately. I can't think of one of the bat, can you?

jk
Sep 26, 2002 8:40 AM
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I tend to think there's a lot of validity in believing that Diane worked as a hooker at some point. There are several clues that this was the case.

David Lynch uses subtle imagery to clue us into which scenes are being manufactured by Diane's subconscious and which scenes may have been drawn directly from real life. The manufactured scenes tend to have something of an off-kilter or even absurd feel to them. A couple of examples of this are the car crash and the bungled hit in the office.

If you look at the car crash scene it doesn't really seem much like a realistic crash. The image of two cars racing wildly down the road, teenagers screaming loudly with arms thrown up in the air, is a little bit ludicrous. It looks like something a dream might conjur up. The same is true with the bungled hit which turns into dark slapstick comedy.

There are some scenes, though, that seem all too realistic and the hooker scene is one. This leads me to believe this was drawn from Diane's real life. I think another hint of this was the scene in the hotel between Adam and Cookie. It looks like a real place and a real conversation although its absurd to believe that a wealthy film director would stay in a fleabag hotel like that or would know the manager. It's not at all absurd if you believe that Diane might have spent some time in that place.
Sep 26, 2002 10:26 AM
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by Xhen


Actually this ties in very nicely with my belief that Diane is actually Rita in her dream...not Betty.
[/QUOTE]

Yes. Diane is Rita in the dream. She is also Adam... and possibly several other characters as she is using these people to play out the different facets of herself.
Sep 26, 2002 12:34 PM
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