“I watched them all back to back this year on DVD. And I’m very glad I did. And I’d do it again.”
“If you didn’t like the Lost finale, you’re an idiot! Literally, you probably just didn’t understand it. You have my sympathy.”
“The people who actually watched all 6 seasons and LIKED it suffer from a form of TV induced Stockholm Syndrome (a term used to describe a paradoxical psychological phenomenon wherein hostages express adulation and have positive feelings towards their captors that appear irrational in light of the negative experience of the victims). Sorry for those that liked it. The first step is admitting there is a problem. ;-)”
“Probably not the answers we’d all hoped for… but anything that can make me feel something besides contempt and disappointment is just fine with me.”
While there are some interesting similarities in content between the show and the gospel—such as the fallen evil dude (the brother of Jesus!) wanting a body—I am more interested in how the process of being a fan of the show and being a member of the church have been strangely similar to me. Think how rather than what. Here are the top three observations about being a fan of the show that came up over the last six years, as well as some honorable mentions:
3. Varying but predictable reactions
With every new season, many complained about the show jumping the shark. Plain crash on a deserted island? Cool! Underground hatch with a button that has to be pushed every 108 minutes? Um, what? Start traveling through time? Lost half the viewers. In each case, a significant amount of viewers predictably fell away, or became more disgruntled. Not just major changes caused these hard feelings though—general disillusionment, feelings of being lied to (not kidding, some people feel lied to), and cries of “it wasn’t what I thought it was” were guaranteed to happen. Some complained about giving up 120+ hours (READ: 2 years!) of their life for the show. Any of this sound familiar? On the other hand, there are viewers like me loved the show, enjoyed the changes, and generally found it immensely satisfying, while being aware of the flaws. Some people are inevitably going to be disappointed, disillusioned, or feel abused (really, one person compared it the finale to spousal abuse… and I thought Richard Dawkins was crazy).
2. A lot of good, a little bad, a dash of ugly
- The good: amazing acting (Michael Emerson anyone?), great character development, intriguing mysteries, huge fan community, meaningful symbolism, and hilarious podcasts. Not to mention an amazing locale with Hummer Tours! (Yeah, I went on one.)
- The bad: Walt and Aaron are important! You really should be thinking a lot about them… no wait, no they’re not, please forget everything we ever said.
- The ugly: Jack gets a tattoo in Thailand from Bai Ling. Nikki and Paulo… well, actually I’m ashamed to admit I actually liked that episode… it had Lando!
For each viewer the ratio of good/bad/ugly was probably different (just as it is in the church). For me, the good outweighs the bad.
1. Subjective experience vs. The Truth
After the finale, myriad arguments ensued about the merits of the show. Amazing masterpiece? Horrible mockery of actual story telling? One of the best shows ever? Another J.J. Abrams “start with a bang and end with a whimper”? I think the debate about whether or not the show is objectively good TV (essentially, “truth claims”) is not very useful. How do you measure and compare subjective experience? Maybe it comes down to the percentages of importance one places on subjective experience and the Truth. For me it’s about 70-30. I care a little less about objectivity than utility. Consider me a post-positivist Lost fan (and church member!). The Truth Is Out There, but it is experienced by individuals. I am more interested in the community, the characters, and the big themes of love and redemption, than finding out all the answers, having everything neat and tidy, and whether or not the show is “objectively” good. Debates over “fact” or “truth” or “reason” have, for the most part, led me nowhere in terms of improving life. To be sure, every once in a while I am encountered with a new view on something that modifies my views or is useful in some way, but I don’t think the “Truth” can really be found this way. Certainly not utility. If people enjoy Twilight or the Twilight Zone, Miley Cyrus or Bob Dylan, Lost or Lost in Space, I refer them to The Duke: “If it sounds good, it IS good.” Follow your own heart and mind, not what some TBM/Atheist/Middle-way/DAMU says.
Sharing the good news: I often tried to convert my friends and family to the show, with moderate success. However, many fall away after some activity with the first few seasons… I’m now at peace with the fact that many people are just not going to watch it, and many aren’t going to like it.
We don’t have all the answers: We weren’t given the answers to many of the questions. Some questions took years to answer. Tolerance of ambiguity reigns supreme. Research suggests that we remember things better when they are left incomplete, so perhaps not having all the answers is not all bad.
For Lost TBS and DAMUS (and middle-way Losties!) out there, what did you think of the show? Did you find any of the show’s themes relatable in your own life or belief system? As this post is not meant to debate the merits of any “content” or specific truth claims of the church or the show, please stick to the “process” themes in your comments!