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Saturday, June 15
The Indiana Daily Student

opinion

OPINION: ‘Twin Peaks’ makes the case for limited AI in Hollywood

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The Writers Guild of America reached a tentative deal Sunday to end their strike after nearly five months of picket lines and negotiations. The Screen Actors Guild strike is ongoing. Both strikes are a result of corporate greed not properly valuing creative work, but also because of AI and its potential to replace writers and artists. “Twin Peaks,” one of my favorite shows, helped change the course of television, and its creative storytelling would have been impossible with AI. 

“Twin Peaks,” a series written by David Lynch and Mark Frost, first aired on ABC in 1990 and takes heavy inspiration from the soap operas and cop shows of the time. The funny and surreal murder mystery follows quirky FBI agent Dale Cooper as he uses his unusual, but effective, methods to track down the murderer of town sweetheart Laura Palmer.  

I recently re-watched this show, and it is still amazing. Now, I was able to appreciate how much work went into the writing, acting, soundtrack and characters. Not only do you feel connected to the story, but also the characters and place. In fact, the town feels like as much of a character as any of the human characters on the show, providing many secrets of its own.  

[Related: COLUMN: What you need to know about the SAG-AFTRA strike]

Without the creativity of “Twin Peaks,” the era of prestige TV, a period of high-quality shows may have never been ushered in. Twin Peaks inspires shows directly and indirectly. It also showed how much TV can do with settings, soundtrack, and story. 

As one of the first prestige TV shows, it would have been impossible for AI to create all the parts and pieces that make the show interesting and beautiful. The franchise is based on human experience and emotion and explores duality: nature versus industry, reality versus dreams and good versus evil. These ideas play an integral part in the complex storylines and settings crafted by the unique minds of Lynch and Frost.  

The town name Twin Peaks itself shows the theme of duality. There are also two separate characters played by the same actor. These characters are meant to be direct mirrors of each other. 

[Related: Black Voices: What you need to know about WGA’s writers' strike]

I mean, could AI have located the gorgeous Snoqualmie Falls as the filming location for the Great Northern Lodge? Selected the perfect theme music as the soundtrack for the scenery filled with haunting Douglas fir trees? Or created odd characters like Log Lady, a woman who holds a magical log? Or the giant who appears in Cooper’s dreams to give him seemingly nonsense clues that make sense later in the series? I don’t think so. Only humans can create and act out such inventive stories and characters.  

I admit, there is a place for AI in the future of entertainment, but we need to make sure it does not overshadow human work. AI may seem like the cheaper and more profitable solution, but as “Twin Peaks” tells us, “The owls are not what they seem.” If we fully rely on AI to tell our stories, we will lose the ideas that created so many amazing shows and movies, just like this one.  

So, while the fight against AI and for fair wages rages on, this fall will be a good time to watch “Twin Peaks,” — a show that celebrates the creativity of the human mind. And, maybe, enjoy the one-of-a-kind series like Agent Cooper would, with a slice of cherry pie and a “damn fine cup of coffee.” 

 

Jack Davis (he/him) is a freshman studying journalism. 

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