Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Thing About Lost

With Prometheus out, there is a lot of conversations about LOST all of a sudden. Beyond that, I have my own friends who are very adverse to LOST and that style of mystery (and they often rant to me about it). While I really shouldn't be up, typing this, I sort of had this entire inspiration and need to.

I loved LOST. I didn't get into it until the summer right before season 6. My best friend, HaeWon, had started watching it, then she directed me to it. I remained a season behind her, but we watched it all in that span of 3 months. Then as season 6 came out, we waited, watched, and waited. Then it ended. Then... I had no idea what to think.

To start, I loved LOST. I didn't always necessarily like the characters, but I did often find things interesting. Actually, some of my favorite characters were ones like Ben and Locke. (As a side, amusing note, I had a bunch of weird dreams that summer about being Ben and fighting Locke.) Anyways, as the series progressed, I experienced what most likely other people did: confusion. I was really looking forward to season 6, assuming that each episode was going to be a fantastic wrap-up. One after another. I felt like I'd be fantastically pleased and awed. I didn't care if they were all in purgatory or what. I just wanted to feel very pleased at the end.

The saddest fact was that I wasn't. I believe I checked, several times, that there was not another episode after the finale. I'm glad I only started watching the show right before season 6. If I had watched it for all the years it ran, from beginning to end, I would have felt very angry, wasting all that time wondering, worrying, feeling excited about the show.

I honestly really enjoy a lot of it... I also dislike a lot of it too. Unlike some of my friends, I don't have complete hate for it. I rarely have a complete hate for anything. I can usually find SOMETHING useful. (There are exceptions, often if they regard Christopher Paolini or Kevin J Anderson.) LOST had some great aspects. Some of the reasons why I enjoyed it, maybe it wasn't necessarily the best. Like the smoke monster noise. It's just pleasing to me. Other things, like the feeling one gets from season 1, I very much enjoy. I loved the idea of this bunker. What's in it? What are the numbers? What is going on?

The problem, of course, is that we, the audience, are led on for such a long time. Mysteries latch on to mysteries. Each time we get closer to an answer, we're given a new mystery to both distract and bring us further from it. This... Is a problem. I remember watching a TEDTalks video by JJ Abrams. One thing always struck me and that was that his concept of mystery was very far removed from mine in one particular fact: that a mystery should remain a mystery. I do not believe that. The reason why I read or watch mystery tales is that I want an answer. I want to try and guess what the answer was.

To throw out a random example, the mystery of who Amber was in House, episodes House's Head and Wilson's Heart. (I happen to be a large House fan, by the way. And I also happen to find them one of the best episodes in the show.) I remember watching that with Michael, the two of us watching in gripping wonderment as to who this woman that was dying was. We were trying to figure it out, of course. For some reason, it never crossed our minds that it was Amber... Why? Why did it take us so long? I don't know. But then there was the final moment when the woman held that necklace and asked "Who am I?" and I caught on first. I gasped in horror, "Oh GOD...." and then a second later, Michael caught on and we both shared a look of sadness and fear. So yes... The mystery? That was... Honestly very fun and all, but in a sense, it never reached its full potential until we found the answer. The answer was the climax (the sort of orgasm of the tale) and that was the most painful, fulfilling moment.

There is no point to a mystery if there is no answer. If there is no answer, then why bother? To liken it... Over the winter, I discussed a story I wrote with a professor of mine. It was about a man in his late 50s. A man who had nearly everything. But my professor told me that he disliked it... It felt worthless to read it. Why read a story without hope? The man kills the one person he loves. So what? His life was hopeless, things happened, and it is still hopeless. There is no point in reading the story. There's no climax, really. Maybe exciting things happened, but nothing substantial does. Essentially, it was just wasted time. And anyways, if there was a point to it, it was to say that there is no hope in life, so live your live in despair and die unhappy. What a wonderful message. So I learned that day that if there's ever something to a story, it's that there needs to be a change... If there's hopelessness in the beginning of a story, there needs to be a ring of hope at the end. If the world is in chaos, it needs to end in order, and vice versa. If there is a mystery, there needs to be an answer. Perhaps, sometimes, there is an exception to this, however, as a general rule, it appears that this is how good stories are written--change happens.

That's one of my problem with LOST. A lot of fantastic and interesting things happen, however, at the end of it all, nothing changes. I'm still wondering what that damned polar bear was doing there. And honestly, I feel the show fell too short for my expectations. There was, at some point, and I'm not exactly sure where, but I think I blame the time stuff, when suddenly, I didn't like what was happening and I was only watching for a certain character (like Ben's back story) or to get an answer for a certain mystery.

I think my biggest problem, however, with LOST was that there was a lot of potential... A lot of potential for things really great, really interesting, and that it didn't always reach that. That sometimes, it almost came to a wonderful point, but that it fell short. I can't decide if LOST was more like Icarus or Daedalus... Either the writers tried too hard to reach something and wasn't able to achieve it, or it never quite tried at all... Above all things, this bothered me the most. I dislike unreached potential. If someone is an absolute crap writer because they will never be able to see how bad they are, are proud of what they are, then there's nothing to be done. That is a rare occurrence, honestly, that I'd say there is a purely bad writer out there, however I'm sure they exist. (In fact, I already listed two, especially one whose name starts with a K and his last starts with an A.) I feel I can accept that. However, I absolutely hate wasted potential. It's what keeps me up at night, contemplating on some failed story (or at least in my opinion) and thinking how it could be fixed.

I suppose I should note... I don't think that my opinion is necessarily the perfect one in the world. I could be wrong and I know I am on some things (I just don't know what--it's just an assured likelihood). I don't mean to sound conceited, saying "oh, yes, all these stories are terrible because I have such a great ability." This is, just, more or less, my opinion. I do think there's merit to what I just said about LOST. I mean, and I feel like I keep repeating this, but I do love a lot of certain aspects. There's something to the story that has such a specific feel and I like it. I just wish there weren't some major, glaring problems, especially with how mystery was handled. I think you could, perhaps, say that this is a call to others to, possibly, write better. So I hope it sort of works, or inspires people...

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