Spectacular Failure: The Figure of the Lesbian in Mulholland Drive
Abstract

This essay considers the lesbian as a modern tragic figure through a reading of David Lynch's 2001 film Mulholland Drive. While many have identified Lynch's representation of female same-sex desire in the film as a textbook example of male fantasy, the film offers a subtle treatment of intimate relations between cultural plots of lesbian fantasy and lesbian tragedy. In this sense, Mulholland Drive insists on the importance of clichés and stereotypes in structuring reality at the same time that if offers several images of the reworking of such clichés in dream and fantasy. The paper considers lesbian representation in the film in the context of a longer tradition of cultural stereotypes, arguing that the tragic of failed lesbian should not be dismissed a mere specter of ideology. Rather, engaging with twentieth-century theorists of tragedy, Love argues that this pathetic figure is better understood as actually tragic, marked as she is by the exclusionary regimes of the modern.


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