Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Lost: Some Thoughts and Observations

I’ve been mulling over the series finale of the television series “Lost” for a day or so now. I spent a good number of hours reading thousands of comments on a bulletin board/blog, even logging in a few responses/reactions to some of what I’d read. These boards become very interesting places, allowing me to see just how stupid some of my fellow human beings are . . . or maybe just limited in their thinking and imaginations.

The sheer number of attacks on those who enjoyed (or dared admit to loving) the finale by those who felt, variously, “betrayed,” “cheated,” “robbed,” “conned,” or “duped,” were expressed in hateful sounding vitriol that fairly boggled the mind.

It appeared - and I’d not thought about this until after the finale, that “Lost” attracted more than one type of viewer . . . that not everyone addicted to the show watched it for the same reasons I did. I felt stunned and a bit embarrassed that I’d not considered this before.

I saw “Lost” as a character driven drama about the disparate survivors of a plane crash who found themselves on an uncharted island in the Pacific with no communication to the outside world and their struggles to make a sense of community as they survived. Their struggles were compounded by the fact this was an island that had extraordinary powers, a seemingly unsolvable, mysterious history, filled with scientific wonders and all manner of life both human and divine. From day-to-day, they had not barely a clue as to what challenge might be facing them - from invisible monsters, to violent natives and transplants to shifts in the time/space continuum. This was fascinating to me. This was how I saw the show.

Others, I’m realizing, saw it as a show about The Island and its mysteries, its temples and statues, polar bears, smoke monsters, the others living on the island and for six years they obsessively looked for clues and hidden meanings to unlock the mysteries possessed by the island. Many of them, I’m learning, saw the characters - who I believed were the center of the story - almost as if coincidentally just there. For these fans, the many unsolved riddles of the island were not sufficiently wrapped up - or in many ways even dealt with - in the show’s long finale.

Many of these folk keep referring to themselves as “intellectuals” though most exhibited poor writing skills, bad word choices, incorrect grammar and a shared tendency to assiduously avoid the use of upper case letters EXCEPT WHEN USED LIKE THIS (the equal of written screaming). These self-proclaimed “intellectuals” kept using phrases like “cop out” and expressed out-and-out anger towards the writers and producers of the show. Many times I read variations of “any four year old/fourth grader/idiot on the street” etc. “could have written a better finale than this.” “This was the worst thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” was another frequent sentence. I can only question the integrity or anyone using the ol‘ “worst ever” (or conversely, “best ever”) business as I realize such pronouncements are most frequently emotionally charged and not well considered against the balance of one’s other experiences.

The upsetting thing to me is the complaint of those who disliked (or, more accurately HATED) the finale, that they’ve lost “six years of their lives.” Really?

I felt every question that needed an “answer” received it, and that the many mysteries of this brutal but amazing island, its electromagnetic forces, its other inhabitants and its thousands of years of history were not ours to fully understand, despite all of our -and the survivors‘ - attempts to understand or explain it. We are human beings, it is in our nature to figure things out, to want to understand why a thing “is,” and control our destinies as best we can, but some things cannot, and shall not, ever be solved.

I long ago discovered I was nowhere near as sharp or smart as I had thought I was or might become and that, despite deepest desires to know everything, I will never get remotely close to such a thing. Should I live a thousand years I wouldn‘t dent the surface and that most things in this brutal yet amazing world will for me be forever locked in mystery. This is as it should be, for I long ago realized the devil really is in the details and, given the brief span of existence allotted me here . . . well, times a’wasting.

I was completely taken with Lost - all six seasons of it, and felt its ending was - as was the entire series - beautifully written, visually stimulating and emotionally satisfying. The bookends of the opening shot of the pilot - Jack’s eye opening - and six seasons later, his eye closing, was, (while entirely predictable) revealing of an artistry rarely seen in television these days.

This is the end of my commentary - I don’t feel the need (at least now) to share my ideas and thoughts of what things “meant” but I thought I’d close by sharing (without permission) some comments received for publicly stating I loved the Lost finale:

it doesn’t bother you that nothing was resolved? Basically there was this 6 season story about smoke monsters, jacob, dharma, time travel, widmore, the others, constants, aaron, walt, pregnancy issues, egyptian artifacts and writings, and dharma food drops and we have no resolution for any of it. No to mention we have no idea why the island was so important and what would happen if the island wasnt there. HOW COULD THEY NOT EXPLAIN THE ISLAND?!?

* * * * *

Those of us who watched for mystery and wanted some puzzles solved but would have been content with any level of the writers simply giving a damn instead of cobbling this series of tableaus together believing we’re too stupid to know a difference. In my book they are the same as Goldman Sachs and Henry Paulson – we’ve been used – there’s an US and THEM once again.

* * * * *

What was the purpose of showing us a skeleton inside the Source without ever explaining it?

* * * * *
so did they all die in the plane crash right? the wreckage on the beach was from the actual accident that had no survivors ? why didnt we see any bodies or skeletons lying on the beach ?

* * * * *

So why was MIB instantly transformed into the smoke monster and his remains also thrown out of the cave? So why wasn’t jack turned into a smoke monster, too? or desmond? why did jack pick hurley to be his successor and not ben? what if sawyer had stayed instead of hurley? if kate loved jack why would she leave him there? none of these things made sense and the show sucked.

* * * * *

After commiting six years our lives to watch “LOST”,I felt the writers/producers just gave up! I guess they just didn’t get that most people want a HAPPY ending! Especially in these times. I was hoping that the LAST episode would be as mesmerizing as the first…or, at least half!

* * * * *

why was everybody in that church at the end?

* * * * *

I was married to Darlton for six years. It was fun and interesting, and I was totally committed. Then I learned that the whole time we were married, he was lying to me and cheating on me. In a few short hours, our entire six years together was reduced to a lie, rendered useless and unimportant. I was horribly betrayed.

* * * * *

Lost leaves intellectual fans bored, and what the hell is up with all the answers left, and what about atheist viewers we don’t all believe in the after life ya know. Plus, what was the island, why did it need to be protected after Locke/smokey died, how did Jacob’s fake mom get her title, who gave it to her, who made the cork, how and why did they even make it, why did one of the episodes show the island at the bottom of the sea, what about the other people that died on the island that lived there several years etc, and the whole purgatory thing did happen, and well, I’m disappointed as a fan because you could’ve made it good for all non-religious and religious viewers… just doesn’t make sense. The polar bear effect goes into affect now! Bye bye Lost, wish you ended better but still, Daniel Farraday made that series awesome

* * * * *

J.J. Abrahams and Co.are laughing at us in our face. I hated the end, while emotional(that’s the easiest and least original thing to do ever)it has absoutely no sense at all and I don’t think it’s because I “did’nt get it.
During the whole series I thought these guys were geniouses, with the polar bears, smoke, Dharma, all great and original ideas, now I realize all they had was mental diarrhea and a lot of guts to just end this like this.

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Blogger Andrew Richards said...

Sharky, thanks for posting on my blog and leading me here. I've really enjoyed reading your thoughts. You've really got me thinking.

"Many of them, I’m learning, saw the characters - who I believed were the center of the story - almost as if coincidentally just there. For these fans, the many unsolved riddles of the island were not sufficiently wrapped up - or in many ways even dealt with - in the show’s long finale."

I hope you've seen the TEDtalk of J. J. Abrams on YT. If not, please do so. Its enlightening when he talks about the Bag with the Question Mark. His artistic vision seems not to be bound by tidy endings and questions answered. I, for one, really enjoyed the grace and beauty of the Lost Finale and found myself tearing up several times by the characters' reunions. Like you, I was into the characters. The mysteries of the island were interesting, but only to serve the characters development. From science to the life of faith was Jack's development and I thought a pretty brave thing to say on a primetime TV show.

Entitlement. I think the criticisms show just how entitled we feel as "consumers" of the arts and religion. We want digestible, quick, relavent....common. I have a lot of thinking to do about this and hope to read and write more on it. One thing I learned in the past 24 hrs is that "Ballet isn't still ballet." Some were very quick to point out that one of the reasons why classical dance is dying is because it made the same choices 20 years ago opera is making now.

Lots to digest...thank you.

June 30, 2010 at 6:58 AM  
Blogger Sharky said...

Wow, Andrew! Of all places to find you my blog entry on the Lost finale was the last I'd imagine!

As it happens I did see the Abrams TEDtalk. I've always been drawn to what appears to be the vagueness of the unexplainable and think the mysteries are more profoundly moving (and often unsettling) than the answers.

The trajectory of a human journey is endlessly fascinating to me - which is why Parsifal has been, since boyhood, pretty much my favorite opera (and when I sang, my dream role - along with Peter Grimes - yeah, I was a weird kid!) My friend Cathy went to your Parsifal (and had dinner with you afterwards) and while Bieito can infuriate me, that Parsifal (and Cathy's beautiful, raw and emotional description) moved me more than I might've imagined.

Lost was, for me, much like Parsifal; the journey of seemingly fundamentally disparate souls all thinking differently, their tests, obstacles, wishes, beliefs somehow propelling them all to the same goal.

Thank YOU for taking the time to post your thoughts and I certainly look forward to finally getting to see/hear you live one of these days.

July 1, 2010 at 11:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sharky's 'Peter Grimes' reference is really on the money. Two years later I'm still mulling over how much the musical score during Jack's death march reminds one of passages from Britten's Four Sea Interludes, adapted from 'Peter Grimes'...

The Peter Grimes connection would mesh well with Jack's tattoos purported meaning - "He walks among us, but he is not one of us." in life and (whether one regards it as the delusion of a dieing brain or the 'reality' of post-death existence) acceptance of his pivotal role as a member of a loving group in the afterlife...

July 30, 2012 at 4:36 PM  

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