You may have noticed a recent flood of David Lynch coffee content bouncing around online. The coffee itself has been available online for some time; there is now a media push behind this coffee, including two original commercials directed and produced by Mr. Lynch himself. The first commercial is four minutes of close-frame Barbie doll neck-breaking, set to the director’s running commentary / babble. It is unwatchably bad; it makes “On The Air” look like The Elephant Man. The second commercial is far more stylized, a beautiful bit of coffee promo film-making, and yet, there’s something not quite right…
“Lynchian”, as academically defined by David Foster Wallace in his 1996 piece on Lost Highway for Premiere Magazine, “refers to a particular kind of irony where the very macabre and the very mundane combine in such a way as to reveal the former’s perpetual containment within the latter.”
Is this coffee actually called “David Lynch Coffee Signature Cup Great Organic”? Is this some sort of cryptic code? Is Mr. Lynch letting his former paymasters at Georgia Coffee design his brand packaging?
And what about the video itself? That portafilter looks like a murder scene; a horrific amount of ground coffee overflows the basket, the grinder is clearly in dire need of maintenance. How long has it been since that steam wand was descaled? Why is the unseen barista / phantasm steaming milk DIRECTLY INTO THE CERAMIC CUP? What the hell does any of this mean?
Lynch a notorious control freak – this is why, after the his debacle making “Dune” for Dino DiLaurentis, he swore off working with major studio producers, instead demanding final say over ever aspect of his films. This slavish devotion to detail is why much of his work amounts to masterpiece, especially Wild At Heart and the first season of Twin Peaks, and it is this complete lack of attention to detail that makes “David Lynch Coffee” so thoroughly Lynchian – why is he using Java Distribution as the landing page for his product? Java Distribution isn’t terrible – they service Allegro Coffee – but their website looks a Mulholland Drive-era period piece, and the listing itself is riddled with typos and opportunities for [sic]. Surely Lynch could launch his own private-label website? Why is this Very Famous Person’s coffee venture merely a page in a drop-down menu, just below “Flavored Coffees”?
This is a remarkable exercise in Lynchianism, a definitional example to buttress David Foster Wallace’s lexicographical case. The extremely mundane (the coffee itself, its attendant website) and the extremely macabre (Lynch’s brand, ethos, legacy) are self-contained in an inexplicable, ironically perverse feedback loop. And because this shining example of Lynchianism is unintentional, and because it involves David Lynch himself, this whole David Lynch Coffee business is perhaps the single-most Lynchian event in all of human history.
And if David Lynch dies tomorrow, or David Lynch never releases another film, these coffee commercials – and the coffee itself – will be the last work this brilliant, epochal, generation-defining filmmaker gives to the world. It is a fate so thoroughly Lynchian, the mind both recoils and delights in horror.