The World Outside David Lynch’s Window, by Bryce Forren
Through the chaotic turmoil of the pandemic, consistency can be found in a strange corner of the internet: every day for the past year and a half, film and television director David Lynch has recorded himself describing the Los Angeles weather.
On May 11, 2020, the prolific 75 year old published his first YouTube video. In it, he sits in a blue-tinted room and verbalizes his hope for the fog outside to give way to sunshine. From then on, he’s hardly gone a day without uploading, which has gained him a loyal following of over 300,000 subscribers.
Being an internet celebrity isn’t new territory for Lynch, and neither are his weather reports. The dry humor of repeatedly describing the fairly consistent LA climate was endearing to him as far back as 2005, back when he was posting videos to his now-defunct website during production of his film Inland Empire. After a lengthy hiatus, So Cal’s “beautiful blue skies” and “golden sunshine” belong to the director once again.
In a time where the household names of Hollywood are scrambling to nurture their digital visibility, Lynch has positioned himself rather comfortably in front of a niche audience. For his fans, watching him describe the weather scratches the familiar itch of enjoying one of his movies; his enigmatic mannerisms elevate the short videos into a sort of performance that would easily blend into the background of his own work. So unique to Lynch is his heightening of the mundane, like the weather, through the use of dreamlike affectation that “Lynchian” can be found in the Oxford English Dictionary, a term used by film theorists to describe the intangible sensation of his creative touch.
The mystery that this tonal dissonance creates on the surface has proven to be fertile ground for online virality. Stunts like his 2006 Oscar campaign for actress Laura Dern, in which he inexplicably sat at a California street corner with a live cow, or a claustrophobic black-and-white video of him telling bizarre stories as he cooks quinoa align perfectly with the surreal, post-ironic humor of our times.
However, the deeper appeal of Lynch’s persona is a non-pretentious authenticity that always reveals itself under a pile of jarring non sequiturs. Even something as inaccessible and downright strange as his 1977 cult film Eraserhead isn’t trying to scare anyone off. Instead, it comes across as a very honest attempt by a spiritual director to paint his subjective headspace onto a living canvas. With everything Lynch does, there’s always the impression that he’s trying just as hard to understand his work as his audience is.
In Lynch’s July 29, 2020 weather report, he acknowledged the large plastic jar in his hands without stating exactly why it was there. Many in his audience, perhaps also fans of his television show Twin Peaks, were all too familiar with Lynch’s love of mystery for mystery’s sake. But instead, he revealed later that he was adding a component to his regular uploads and would be drawing a number out of the jar in separate videos. The inclusion of this segment only served to strengthen his fanbase, with many commenters rallying blindly behind a certain number being drawn.
Despite all of the disillusionment that the last decade has offered, Lynch regularly celebrates alongside his online community whenever a desired number is picked from the jar. Without fail, he ends his weather reports with a salute and a hearty: “Everyone, have a great day!” The exact reason why these two bits strike such a charming chord for his fans isn’t entirely certain, but the genuine intentions of the man behind them are abundantly clear.