Let Lost be Lost

Since I wrote about fans’ feelings of entitlement over the creative directions of the things they love, I’ve been wondering on and off about Lost–specifically, online reviewers’ claims about what ought to have happened/been revealed in any given episode. And as we get closer to the series finale (3.5 hours to go, at this point), it seems that this tendency to demand is growing fiercer.

This was especially apparent as I read through the stellar soundbites of “Across the Sea” reviews collected over at Cultural Learnings (a site I’m especially eager to visit more often since that blogger seems to have decided to watch Buffy for the first time at just about the same time I did–we’re both in season 3!). Repeatedly, people who clearly love Lost and know all kinds of arcane details (mine: I tell people that Jack’s mother shares a name with my wife) write sentences with a nagging mother’s “I disapprove” tone. Things like (and I’m making these up, not quoting actual articles):

  • “They should have given us more time with Desmond and Penny instead of introducing these new characters.” (But would you want to just see Des and Pen hanging around, without a thick, complex plot to move around in?)
  • “They should have told us more about what Mother/Eve’s motivations were.” (But for someone to have simplistic, easily explained motivations would be exceptionally anti-Lost, where every sick action can be partly explained through prior abuse and partly through real seeds of grossness in the heart.)
  • “They should have let us learn MiB’s motivations through his actions, not through hit-you-over-the-head narrative.” (But you’re the same person who wanted clearer answers, I thought…?)

I guess this sounds as if I’m more annoyed than I really am. But I’m at least . . . surprised/confused that at this point in the game, without seeing how it wraps up, people really feel they know better what should come when in the series. I don’t mind when people have serious critiques, but I tend to be more supportive of those that are textual or thematic critiques–“I think that character’s actions seem to imply an inconsistent motivation or meaning with the motivations and meanings we were given earlier”–than with those that are big-picture or super-structural critiques–“It was wrong for the producers to do X at Y stage in the series.”

And finally, the reason this is actually worth writing at all: because as I said in my post back in February on “fans loving too much,” I usually A) have these gut-level reactions against Lost critics, and then B) feel kind of surprised at myself, since I intellectually support folks who take ownership of a series and do new stuff with it–say, in fan fic or vidding or art or whatever.

Maybe it’s that creative fan activities feel like a different genre–or, in Lost language, a parallel timeline. Whenever someone says, “I wish they hadn’t shown ‘Across the Sea’ at all, and I’m going to write the episode that I would have put there instead,” the timeline splits and there’s beauty and coolness in both parallel worlds. But when someone says, “I want to pretend that I know as much as Darlton about what ought to have happened in the canon Lost universe,” well, I think that people should sometimes (but not always!) let Lost be Lost.

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