For eight years, David Walker defined the job of WW screen editor with his lacerating judgments. When he left the paper in 2006, he turned his critical eye on himself—and emerged with Damaged Goods, his first full-length movie and a bilious examination of singles desperately seeking romantic affirmation. It contains several scenes of frantic self-loathing made flesh in the form of shoulder-crouching angels and devils, whose advice is seldom helpful and never heeded. Damaged Goods will be released on DVD at a Clinton Street Theater showing on Sunday, Sept. 21. So it seemed only appropriate that the current screen editor should sit down with Walker to talk about his movie. As might be expected with two critical luminaries at the same table, the conversation immediately turned to our relational failures.
WW: Your romantic trials—your fault, or women's fault?
David Walker: The guy who appreciates shock value would love to say it's all the women's fault, but there's always two people in a relationship and those two people both bring their past people with them. So it's a combination of faults. I mean, I definitely have not exercised the best judgment in the women I've been involved with; nor have they. Most of my ex-girlfriends are women I should not have given the time of day, let alone be involved with. And that's really what this movie is about. Most of the time we get involved with people based on either lust or desperation—or a combination of the two. And lust and desperation are not two great tastes that taste great together….I would never blame it all on the women. I'm just kind of an idiot when it comes to dating. I can own that.
[Laughs.] I think it's that very masculine belief that I can rescue the woman from her own existence. Women tend to think that they can change the guy, whereas guys tend to think they can save the woman. So you got a crazy woman and a guy thinking, "Oh, I can save her from her craziness," and you've got a guy who's a total loser slacker and the woman thinking, "Oh, I can change him." And, you know, that ain't happening. If the building of your life is on fire, I am not running in to rescue you ever again. I'll call 911 for you, show you where the fire escape is, but that's it.
Personally, at this point I've found that I enjoy therapy a lot more than dating.
This movie is very much like a therapy session for me, and it's very one-sided—it's me airing my grievances. But at the same time, we get more damaged with every day that passes in our lives. And if you're not dealing with it, it's like a spiritual or emotional infection that gets inside, and then you just sort of become diseased. Myself included. I've got a disease. There's no pill for it, unfortunately; you can't take penicillin for the disease of a damaged psyche.
So, who fucked you up?
I don't know who fucked me up. I fucked myself up. I kept coming back for more. And then one of the excuses that I use is that I love to be able to tell a good story. So there are times when I've been out with a woman—I'm not talking a date, I'm talking a relationship, like years into it—and it's going bad and I just think to myself, "Yeah, but just think of the stories I could keep telling."
premieres at the Clinton Street Theater at 5 pm Sunday, Sept. 21. $5.