David Lynch, Commercials, Product Placement, And The Audience Relationship To Books And Film

A few days ago, Open Culture featured some of David Lynch’s Surreal Commercials.

Still thinking about David Foster Wallace’s comments on Lynch with respect to the expectations we bring to media and how they shape our perception of it, I took a few minutes to watch these clips, most of which I hadn’t seen before. I was surprised to see that Lynch had produced a commercial for Parisienne’s “Parisienne People” campaign for cinemas in Switzerland. Of these, I had only seen the ones from Robert Altman and the Coen brothers.

Mike Springer, who wrote the article, said

The films of David Lynch seem anything but “commercial.” Disturbing, incomprehensible, they shine a flashlight into the darkest regions of the subconscious mind. When you walk out of a theater after watching a David Lynch film you feel like you just woke up from a vivid and unsettling dream.

But Lynch has been leading a double life. While making uncompromisingly artistic works for the movie theaters, he has been directing commercials for television and other media on the side. Why does he do it? “Well,” Lynch told Chris Rodley in Lynch on Lynch, “they’re little bitty films, and I always learn something by doing them.”

He also mentioned Lynch’s answer at the 2007 AFI Dallas International Film Festival when asked how he felt about product placements in films.

That Lynch maintains such a clear distinction between his film and advertising work draws attention to one aspect in this equation, and I think one that is perhaps subtle but very relevant to the differences between our relationship to film as a movie-goer and to books as a reader. We’re all accustomed to, and maybe even expect, product placements in movies. However when we see a product placement in a movie, we’re (perhaps unconsciously) reminded of our role as a member of the audience and a “consumer” of a commercial film, something I daresay rarely occurs to us while reading a book, even if it’s a best seller.

If you’re a Lynch fan, you’ll want to check out the whole article, which has a nice collection of some of his best ads. I found the 1991 New York Public Service Announcement downright disturbing, but I liked it.

Open Culture is one of my favorite sites and features cultural and educational material that can be found for free on the web. If you aren’t aware of it, you might want to have a look or follow them on Twitter.

Previously here: Thoughts On Movies: David Foster Wallace On David Lynch

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