May 26, 2010

on LOST and Community

Much has been made about how these individual castaways had to bond together as a community. "If we can't live together, we're gonna die alone," said Jack, at the end of season one. Each character's backstory had indeed left them very alone, and so the group shot at the end was indeed hugely significant. But...


Where were the family members? In the end, when the souls of the losties were all gathered together in those pews, Jack's dad was the only family member present. What about: Jack's mom, Kate's parents, Hurley's parents, John's wife Helen, Claire's mom, Juliet's sister, Shannon's dad, Charlie's brother Liam, Jin's dad, Sun's mom, and their daughter Ji Yeon. And what about baby Aaron? If there was no "now, here", shouldn't Aaron have been older? Ditto for Ji Yeon & Sawyer's daughter Clementine. Okay, partly it was just a cast reunion photo, and the writers could say maybe the losties' real families were waiting for them 'in the light'. Even so, this says something about the show's audience, the era in which we live, and perhaps about our typically anemic experience of "community".

In many ways, the survivors' new island family/community had superseded their blood relatives, and their former communities. So it has been for many of us in LOST's audience.

Current discussions about the need for "community" often aim at methods for developing more of it. My grandfather's generation didn't have to develop community. Not in the same ways. Eighty years ago he could walk or bike to anyone's house in his town. Today, most TV watching households sit much farther away from their nearest town square. (Side question: Has TV's false sense of human connectedness enabled ever-increasing sprawl? Where possible, probably. But TV isn't my enemy point.) And lots of those households spent a lot of time watching LOST.

In many ways, LOST is a show for our age. I do think it says something that the largest, most deeply-developed character/ensemble show in TV history had writers who set out to illustrate points about bondedness and the challenge of forging community - and that in order to do so they had to move those people onto some island together, away from their families. I don't think they're purposefully anti-family, and I don't think family should be our solution per se. I just think... well, this:

LOST illustrates the modern lifestyle, in which we individualists construct our own micro-communities, to our own liking, as much as we can. In this way, LOST also reflects one more example of how much we want what we're missing... even though we don't really know what that is.

1 comment:

mike fox said...

great, great thoughts. i think trying to figure out what made LOST so fascinating and meaningful for our generation is a worthwhile endeavor. the writer's certainly had their fingers on the pulse of young adults and thirty-somethings.

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