I received this letter concerning my review of David Lynch’s “Mulholland Drive,” from the e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org:
I just watched Mulholand Drive earlier tonight and it made perfect sense to me. It’s not a linear plot, but it isn’t difficult to unravel if you have even HALF a brain. There really isn’t much to it. You were right in that it wasn’t a great movie, but it’s not a lousy movie because you don’t have the mental faculty to understand it, what makes it kindof weak is that all of the “mysteries” that you proclaim unsolvable are quite easily solvable, and are mostly there just to point out how to reorder the scenes so that things DO make sense. If you really are too stupid to figure it out, and not just incredibly lazy beg me and I might explain it to you! There is also some biblical creation parallelism in the dream(and some other biblical symbolism elsewhere), which makes sense as what diane is DOING in her dream is recreating the world to her liking. You’re review was completyly pathetic and a waste of my time. I feel dumber having taken the time to even read your opinion, and I certainly never will bother to read anything written by you again!
This seemed excessively harsh, so I did not bother composing a complete rebuttal. Instead, I replied with merely this:
You’re review was completyly pathetic and a waste of my time. I feel dumber having taken the time to even read your opinion,
Imagine how I feel having to read your e-mail!
Less than an hour later, emboldened by my apparent weakness, he fired back this diatribe:
Wow, that was a response that my 7 year old little sister could have come up with. Thanks for further validating my point. You can’t write OR argue effectivley. I have no respect for people who attempt to foist their opinion on others without even thinking about why THEY hold a particular belief. [Yeah, sorry I tied you down and made you read my review, then.] Imagine how you feel…I’d imagine that you feel pretty pathetic and ashamed when you read my email, because you realize that you aren’t very good at what you do and weren’t smart enough to figure out a simple plot on your own simply because it was non-linear. On the other hand maybe you just can’t read english above a 2nd grade level…although I considered that in advance and DID try not to use too many big words for you. The most likely option in your case, is that you ARE ashamed of how pathetic you are at your job deep down inside, but you will TRY to shrug it off and act like your pathetic egotistical self. Here’s a tip, confidence is only appropriate if you can back it up. False bravado will be seen through by many of us and we will think even LESS of you for your inability to recognize your own failings. It’s just sad that you’re not even capable of doing actual work of any sort, other than making silly comments on things other people have done and that you could never HOPE to do yourself…and you aren’t even good at that
OK, now enough was enough. I responded as follows:
So, let me get this straight. You write an e-mail, not even bothering to sign your name to it, in which you call me a bad writer and a stupid person — all on the basis of ONE movie review (out of 1,400) — and to that you expect a well-reasoned, mature reply? You write something condescending, mean-spirited, insulting and outrageously uncalled for … yet you expect something intelligent in response?
I wonder what it is that has happened to make you the way you are. I mean, I’ve certainly disagreed with movie critics before, and thought they were missing the boat on something. And I guess I can see writing to a critic to offer my opposing viewpoint, to point out a detail or two that he seemed to have missed, something that might make him see the film differently. But I CANNOT imagine being SO upset that a critic disagreed with me that I would say he was stupid, lazy and bad at being a movie critic.
I mean, what makes a person become so vitriolic at something as simple as a difference of opinion? You’re just someone who watched the movie and liked it. I watched it and did not like it, for the reasons stated in the review. SO WHAT? Where in any of that is there cause for a 196-word diatribe on the various ways that I am stupid?
Now, as to your original e-mail, which apparently I am obligated to respond to point-by-point, despite its rancor. If indeed “all of the ‘mysteries’ that [I] proclaim unsolvable are quite easily solvable,” you are more than welcome to explain them to me. I’ve noticed numerous theories on various Web sites in which people attempt to explain it, and I’d be glad to read your theory. I understand that for some people, that is the fun of a movie such as this, the post-viewing dissection, the attempt to discover its meaning. For myself, as I said in the review, I have no problem with a film that requires a little thought from its audience. Where I have no patience is where I strongly suspect that such analysis will be fruitless, because the film is not meant to be understood.
Roger Ebert also did not “get” the film, as you must have noticed from the portions of his review that I quoted in mine. (I assume you sent him an equally impertinent e-mail, berating him for his ignorance?) He wrote: “‘Mulholland Drive’ isn’t like ‘Memento,’ where if you watch it closely enough, you can hope to explain the mystery. There is no explanation. There may not even be a mystery.”
That’s how I feel, too. Only unlike Ebert, I don’t consider the film being unexplainable to be a selling point. Why watch something that there is no hope of understanding?
Again, if you believe you have unraveled David Lynch’s meaning in the film, then hooray for you. I did not find the sense in it, nor did I believe Lynch himself even knew where all the pieces fit. I thought he was being self-indulgent, and I didn’t like the film.
Now here we are, disagreeing on a film, and yet one of us is still being civilized! How about that!
And guess what? This time, he never replied! Apparently, once he discovered I was not an easy target who could be bullied by his angry, faux-educated rants, he lost his false sense of bravery.