All the dirt, news, culture and commentary for Oklahoma's second century.

"Nazi scum" and the cherry-pie-appeal of "Twin Peaks"

George Etheredge / The New York Times
Cherry pie and Agent Cooper. And an Ohio Nazi.
Fertile Ground Compost Service
Help support Red Dirt Report

OKLAHOMA CITY – Readers of The New York Times are still trying to figure out why that newspaper chose to blandly profile an Ohio-based white nationalist – who just loves Adolf Hitler and the Nazis – named Tony Hovater, who happens to also love the Olive Garden, Seinfeld and Twin Peaks.

How bland. How American ... 

In fact, Hovater says he spreads the gospel of white nationalism in a "mid-90s, Jewish  New York, observational-humor way." (Need I state the obvious here?)

Yeah, we're all just dying from fits of laughter, pal.

And that last reference, to my beloved Twin Peaks, really bugged me. He has a tattoo of cherry pie on his right bicep and above it (partially hidden by his shirt) a tattoo of what appeared to be Twin Peaks hero/anti-hero Agent Cooper, a man who could not turn down a hot slice of cherry pie from the Double R Diner.

This detail caught the attention of Twin Peaks co-creator Mark Frost, a big Trump critic and confirmed Democrat. He took to Twitter to rightly tell off both the Nazi and the Times, saying “lose the Twin Peaks tattoo Nazi scum!

I totally agree with that sentiment, Mr. Frost. Hovater is "Nazi scum" and is also fairly incoherent in explaining his decision to go down the crooked path of hate and division.

But while we're on the subject of Twin Peaks, I will take time to note that the casting of Twin Peaks: The Return could have included a more diverse cast. Perhaps the predominantly white cast of the show - not specifically the original series, but the one that aired this summer on Showtime - turned off non-white audiences and gave the impression that non-whites were not welcome in that mysterious, surreal world.

There were, admittedly, exceptions. But the whiteness factor was pretty glaring.

There was the heroic Deputy Hawk, of course (Michael Horse); original Peaks characters like Josie Packard (Joan Chen), who was largely absent; the African-American prostitute Jade, played by Nafessa Williams; the African-American emcee at the Roadhouse (JR Starr, who was an activist and confronted the KKK); Ernie Hudson's ("Winston" in Ghostbusters) brief appearance as Air Force Col. Davis; the Hispanic boy in 1956 New Mexico played by Xolo Maridueña, and a few others who did not have leading parts. The rest? White as snowcapped Mount Rainier.

JR Starr plays the "emcee" at the Roadhouse in Twin Peaks: The Return. (Showtime)

The show's whiteness prompted this interesting article, back in June, from writer Sezin Koehler, where she interviews different people of color who comment as to why they watch the show and if the lack of people of color bothers them. The response is mixed, with most saying it doesn't bother them because the world Lynch and Mark Frost created is so interesting and surreal. People of color I talked to either had not seen the show or they also had mixed feelings about it.

And by October, Koehler was writing at The Huffington Post, in a piece called "Waking from a Dream, Deprogramming from a (Twin Peaks) Cult." Just click on this IMDB 2017 cast list and check out just how white it is. Koehler's dismay at the direction The Return took was quite evident in this piece.

Recall the Japanese actress Nae, who plays the mute and blind "Naido." Even that character turns out to be the white actress Laura Dern playing Agent Cooper's assistant Diane Evans.

And when Deputy Andy Brennan (Harry Goaz), the half-wit-deputy-with-a-heart-of-gold gets to enter the White Lodge, while the spiritually-centered Deputy Hawk, of the Nez Perce tribe which has a link to explorer Meriwether Lewis and the cursed "Owl Ring," does not. I thought that was a wasted opportunity on the part of the show's writers. Hawk deserved to go to the White Lodge and receive that information.

Anyway, Koehler writes that watching Twin Peaks: The Return, after having been in love with the original 1990-91 series, made her sad and disappointed. Koehler also said she was personally attacked by hardcore "Peakies" for sharing her thoughts, thereby proving her point, I guess. Again, anyone who knows me is aware that I am a longtime fan of Twin Peaks and the creative team of Lynch/Frost. But the lack of diversity in the show remains shocking and sad. 

Writes Koehler: "The entire third season now feels like the self-indulgent ego trip of David Lynch and his cult of personality. A man who had 25 years to grow and evolve, and yet reproduced the same problematic tropes from a time when people didn’t have to know better. A man who has the power and privilege to access so many resources to be inclusive, and yet decides to forego all it for some narcissistic self-proclaimed ether-plucking.

I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention how all the trolling and harassment I’ve received on account of my Twin Peaks writings over the course of this summer has affected my ability to enjoy the show and community. Having to deal with literally hundreds of rape apologistssexists, misogynists, and proud racists in the Twin Peaks community has been sickening. I’d be lying if I said that these awful encounters didn’t skew my perspective more than a little."

Concludes Koehler: "In the end, this return to Twin Peaks has ended up more a bitter disappointment than the bittersweet I had expected."

I wonder how Lynch and Frost would respond to Koehler's concerns and criticisms? Was it trying to reflect the demographics of that area of Washington state? Was it an oversight? 

While they seemingly idealized an America of 65 years ago in the original series, with the many nods to a 1950's aesthetic, they forgot to be more inclusive a quarter-century later with The Return.

And with the setting in Washington state, particularly eastern Washington, near the Idaho border and the realm of the Aryan Nations and other white supremacist groups, I get that it is a very white area of the country. But there is a notable Native American presence and Asian population as well. And immigrants of many other cultures. However, this diversity in eastern Washington was not represented the way one would expect, particularly in 2017. I'd venture to guess that more Asian characters were in the original series than in The Return.

But even with that, The Return did not take place entirely in Washington state. There were scenes in Las Vegas, New York City, Odessa, Texas, rural New Mexico, rural South Dakota, rural Montana ... well, anyway ... 

BACK TO THE NAZI SUBURBANITE ... 

The Times reporter, Richard Fausset, presents Hovater (who never quite explains why he dove into the world of racist hate) as a guy you’d want to hang out with at Applebee’s, sharing cheeseburger egg rolls and talking Trump tweets and Mein Kampf

Not!

(Red Dirt Report file photo)

This odious, failed heavy metal drummer  tells Fausset that his “fascist ideal” would resemble the early days in the United States, when power was reserved for landowners “and, you know, normies didn’t really have a whole hell of a lot to say.”

Grotesque.

One major point this Times profile puff piece tells me is that the dreaded Trump Effect is really taking hold. Especially if The New York Times offers up stories about the “normalization” of white nationalist and white supremacist beliefs in suburbs of Dayton, Ohio, as they did with “A Voice of Hate in America's Heartland," a story which has caused an absolute uproar from readers who question the judgement of the editors at the Times. The subhead to the story? "Seeking acceptance in the mainstream." 

So, I began thinking about how these Alt Right white nationalist types, like this Twin Peaks-loving Nazi in Ohio, are drawn to Twin Peaks, not just because of the overt occult themes throughout the 18 episodes of The Return, but the fact that there are few non-white faces in the show.

It really hit me when I read Fausset's tepid explanatory piece on page 2 of Sunday's Times. He explained that he had worked hard to get more information from Hovater, beyond his disappointment in the Libertarian Party and Ron Paul's failure to get the Republican nomination in 2012. But what was interesting was how Fausset concluded the piece, noting how Madame Helena P. Blavatsky's late 19th century esoteric classic, The Secret Doctrine, which was on Hovater's bookshelf at home, may have inspired Hovater as well, with Fausset writing that Blavatsky's works on Theosophy were anti-Semitic and "influenced Nazi thinking."

While Blavatsky was not a Nazi (she lived prior to the creation of Germany's National Socialism), she did talk of "root races," although in terms of groups, not racial distinctions, from what I understand. Even so, prominent Nazis did warp Blavatsky's Theosophical writings in The Secret Doctrine to fit their own prejudices, creating the Nazi-friendly "ariosophy" belief system, thereby claiming that the "German race was seen as superior to all other races." 

Of course the Nazis were heavily into the occult. Look no further than Raiders of the Lost Ark and Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke's 1985 book The Occult Roots of Nazism, which the late author described as "an underground history, concerned with the myths, symbols, and fantasies that bear on the development of reactionary, authoritarian, and Nazi styles of thinking." 

And some Nazi leaders did indeed get inspiration from Blavatsky and other occult peers of her era. Recall Theosophy's use of the swastika, later incorporated as the symbol of Nazism. While it was a good luck symbol, it was forever tainted by its incorporation into Nazi symbolism.

Blavatsky - like the Tibetan Buddhists who influenced her - spoke of a Great White Lodge and a Great White Brotherhood. Of course there is its opposite - the Black Lodge. This, of course, plays a role in Twin Peaks, as the A Perfumed Skull blog reminds us:

"Although the terms ‘Black Lodge’ and ‘White Lodge’ are said in the show to derive from local Washington state Indian tradition, (Mark) Frost explains in a 1992 interview with The Independent  that he got the idea of the Black Lodge from the book Psychic Self-Defence, first published in 1930 by influential Western esotericist and ritual magician Dion Fortune a.k.a. Violet Firth (more on her and her comments on the concept in a moment). Fortune in turn borrowed these labels from Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, the even more influential Russian/Ukrainian psychic who claimed to be in both physical and more subtle contact with ‘Mahatmas’ or advanced spiritual Masters from Tibet and the Himalayas. These Mahatmas schooled her in the ‘Secret Doctrine’ or esoteric Wisdom-Religion that lay behind all exoteric traditions and which formed the basis of the Theosophical Society, an international esoteric organization Blavatsky helped found in 1875."

In no way am I suggesting there is some crypto-racist message being woven into the Twin Peaks universe. I think, like critic and disappointed TP fan Koehler, noted earlier, views David Lynch as rarely being told 'no' when it comes to his work, as creative and compelling as it is. Lynch, a native of Montana, a predominantly white state, works with what he knows and this is what we get. And it is far more interesting than 90-plus percent of the TV/film "entertainment" out there today.

I only wish the Lynch/Frost team had considered introducing more non-white characters into this deeply fascinating tapestry. Should viewers excuse Lynch because of the suggestion that eastern Washington is predominantly white? The nearby city of Spokane - the hub of north-eastern Washington, where Twin Peaks is set -  is nearly 90 percent white, according to the 2000 census. Seattle, meanwhile, is 67 percent white.

In any event, if there is a fourth season of Twin Peaks - and something tells me that won't happen - I will watch it and hope for the best. After all, we still don't know where Cooper/Richard and Laura/Carrie are. And there are some really remarkable storylines just waiting to be hatched if it comes to pass ... 

Back to The New York Times article ... I think what the reporter did capture was a normalization (and it sickens me to even write that) of these fetid ideologies sprouting on the right, something I've been warning about and writing about for nearly five years now. Note how the U.S. continues to prop up fascist dictatorships around the world. Some things never change, it would seem.

Oh, and the "mainstream" Republican Party of a decade or so ago is not likely to return. The Tea Party and corporate fascists slit its throat in 2009/10 and it has been bleeding out ever since.

Just as we are seeing around the world, strongmen and dictators are on the rise, and more technologically savvy than ever. And that helps spread their divisive message even further afield. The next decade or so is going to be rough, I expect.

IS E.T. RACIST?

In Twin Peaks, including The Return, "ultraterrestrial" entities manipulate humans and even create doppelgangers of living humans caught up in their nightmarish web. They do not have the humans best interests at heart, that much is clear. Even the "good" White Lodge denizens seem to operate with selfish motives in mind. It's good to be discerning in these sorts of encounters with elementals who have been messing with humanity for a good long while now.

With this in mind, I just finished up John A. Keel's fascinating 1971 book Our Haunted Planet. In it I noted how Keel had picked up on the sometimes racist nature of the so-called "aliens" that people encountered, entities that shared messages of peace, often couched these messages with "racist propaganda."

Writes Keel: "The messages recorded throughout history are filled with such propaganda. If the percipient was (Native American), the propaganda was aimed at a nearby tribe. If he was Hindu, it was directed at the Moslems. The elementals are purveyors of hate, and perhaps much of the racial prejudice blighting the human race was originally the product of their teachings."

People who have tried to spread the message - cultists, in a sense, as Keel would put it - usually go down dark roads of hate, fear and insanity. And scapegoats are often sought out.

Adds Keel: "Even contactees of liberal persuasions repeat with some dismay the nastily racist remarks of the Venusians. The Jews are a favorite target of this outer space propaganda, as if they haven't got enough trouble already."

Hopefully this Times article will help people wake up to the very serious rise of far-right nativists and neo-Nazis here in America - and beyond. Who knows? They may be your neighbor - or even your president.

Enjoy this? Please share it!

About the Author

Andrew W. Griffin

Editor & Owner.

Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

read more

Enjoy this? Please share it!

About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

Member of the Oklahoma Press Association
Member of Investigative Reporters & Editors
Member of Diversity Business Association
Member of Uptown 23rd

Rotary Club of Bricktown OKC
Keep it Local OK