My rant about Lost – I never expected it to take off like this.
Thursday on WordPress, for instance, The Curse of Future Tom was the 40th most popular blog. Doesn’t sound like taking off, until you realize there were nearly 300,000 different posts that day.
With a few days to think about it, since I posted my open letter, there are a couple of things I’m not completely in love with about it, but I’m glad I wrote it, and I stand by it.
An overwhelming number of the responses have been positive – people who felt just like me, who were simply happy to see their thoughts and emotions on the finale articulated and defended.
Closing in on ten thousand page views so far, I’ve blocked about thirty posts by people who I simply didn’t feel like arguing with. I was clear in the letter – I wasn’t opening a debate. And so if you showed up emulating the qualities I was talking about, well I didn’t feel obligated to post your comment on my blog.
My thinking was – get your own blog. It’s not that hard.
To be fair, most of the comments I blocked were either about my possible homosexuality, or about how stupid blogs were in the first place, so it seemed fitting.
But a funny thing happened. A lot of People Who Thought The End Of Lost Was Awesome showed up, disagreeing without emulating the qualities of the People I’d been talking to. I posted their comments, and we usually had a civil and interesting exchange.
Frankly, they had a lot of good points. Not enough to make me like the ending, certainly. But good points. I just couldn’t see moving on without acknowledging that.
So today, I’m going to clarify a couple of things about the letter which I think need clarified – based on some really insightful and calm responses to it, and also based on some personal reflection.
First, there was something weird about who I was talking to. I mean, I spent eight paragraphs really clearly stating, if you liked the show, and you’re still comfortable with people who didn’t, then I wasn’t talking to you.
It seemed like I couldn’t have been clearer about that.
However, sure, reading it over and over, I can see that by the end, I was really blurring the line again. It started to sound like I was yelling at everyone who liked the show, not excluding the people from the first eight paragraphs anymore.
Sure, I asked you to stop reading if you were just a regular Person Who Thought The End Of Lost Was Awesome, and not the pseudo intellectual variety, but I really doubt anyone did. I doubt anyone said, cool, see you later. At least, not because I told them to.
But again, that’s what I said, and although I was blurring it toward the end, I reiterated that sentiment. I even apologized. So when I received responses saying that I really didn’t mean that and that I really was insulting everybody, I was puzzled.
I mean, I could see how you might say, Tom doesn’t know what the writers of Lost meant, or Tom doesn’t have the right to tell them how they have to end it – sure. But the letter is a different story. I wrote the letter. I know if I meant the eight paragraphs or not. I meant them. But yes, I got many responses telling me that I meant something else.
Again, this letter was addressed to bullies, plain and simple. A lot of us felt really let down by the end, despite the fact that we understood it just fine, and a lot of people immediately began to insist, you either liked it or you were some kind of moron who didn’t get it. And I mean, over and over again, on site after site, that’s what you’d see, anytime anyone said anything about not liking the end.
The problem was, it was like arguing politics, trying to do it in comment form. Lost is like health care reform or immigration – it’s so complicated that it’s not conducive to sound bites or sniper fire. So I sat down and knocked out that letter in about an hour and a half, trying to articulate exactly how one could dislike the end, and still not be a moron.
But Tom, weren’t you also being a bully, in your letter?
No, I don’t think so. I think I was being Walker, Texas Ranger. I don’t think it’s still called bullying, when you push a bully down.
But to be sure, a lot of people sitting around enjoying the show without being a bully got beer splashed on them, when I started flipping over tables and calling the bullies out. That was really rude, and it turned out to be insulting to some people who most definitely were not asking for it. For that, I am truly sorry.
There was a lot of poison in the letter. Generally, I’m not crazy about spewing poison into the universe. But you also use poison to get rid of rats, and just as there were a lot of people who didn’t have the letter coming, there were an awful lot of people who did.
For that, I’m definitely not sorry. I turned out to be speaking on behalf of many thousands of people, and I received praise and sincere thanks a lot more than anything else.
Another blurry concept: “I could write a better ending.”
Yeah. A lot of people jumped on that line. To be fair, a lot of them jumped on it in a good way. I bet you could, Tom. Or, I wish you would, Tom. Or, it’d be hard to write anything and not have it be better than what we got, Tom.
And then a lot of people had a good old time, pointing out that I’m nobody and these guys wrote a show of truly epic of historic proportions. Who cared what I thought?
I still think I could write a better ending, but all that means is, I think I could write one I liked better, one that the thousands of people who identified with the letter would like better, and that I could do that leaving the rest of it intact.
That I could let the People of Faith keep their redemption themes, their symbolism, their characters and resolutions, and that I could have given the People of Science a lot of the hard answers they were looking for. I guess I wouldn’t let you keep all of it, Faith Crowd. If it were up to me, I’d have gotten rid of that whole cork in a cave thing. I’ll stand right by that – I thought it was one of the most uninspired images I’d ever seen.
It seems to me that if an ending addressed both of those groups, instead of declaring the Faith crowd the winners, then it would have not only been a better, more satisfying ending, but that it would be in keeping with one of the central themes of the show – that we have to live together so we don’t die alone.
I’ve said before, I’m of the school of thought that symbolism ought to run parallel to a story, not be used as a heavy plaster to patch giant holes in the plot. That’s about how I felt about Lost. The hardest thing I could imagine about writing the show was pulling it all together, and then they just sort of said, we’re not going to do that. Put their hands in the air like Pee Wee Herman and declared, “I meant to not answer questions.”
Which brings me to another regret: If a stoner, etc, has to explain your show to everyone, then you wrote it poorly. That was clearly the most asinine thing I said, right there. The writers of this show are obviously not a bunch of crappy writers.
I’m going to characterize that remark as similar to something you’d say when you’re playing poker, and your pal busts your flush with sixes over sevens. It was a childish thing to say to a crew of writers who really obviously kept me hooked for six years. I didn’t get what I expected, and that doesn’t make me stupid, but it doesn’t make them crappy, either.
And all of that brings me to the end, where I called them sons of bitches – again, that was supposed to be in a jocular manner. The way you’d say it to your pal with the full house. You son of a bitch. I thought that by bookmarking it between the word “Namaste,” well, that the irony would be clear and so would the tone. So that’s not something I want to apologize for at all, but yes, I’m over it. Whose turn is it to deal?
Because what I was saying, was true. They grifted me, and they grifted a lot of people like me.
Someone in an interview would say, here are all these questions, do you guys know where you’re going or what? And they’d say, we’ve known the end since the beginning.
That doesn’t necessarily mean, we’re going to answer all the questions. Every time they responded, I believe they were intentionally trying to give the impression that they’d answer these questions. That maybe lying is too strong a word for what they did – they just misled us.
Even the series build up – THE TIME FOR QUESTIONS HAS ENDED!
A little bit of a difference, isn’t there, between that and “THE TIME FOR ANSWERS HAS ARRIVED!”
Do I think they SHOULD have answered more questions? Yes, I absolutely do. But it looks like they didn’t promise it. They just knew we were thinking it, intentionally misled us, allowed us to keep right on thinking it.
They played with our expectations, grifted us, and they even said they were going to do it, in the episode “The Long Con.”
To be clear, I don’t appreciate that any more than I appreciate getting sharked or tricked or grifted, for real. But again, this wasn’t a matter of not understanding the end, it was a matter of expecting a different one. A meatier one.
That doesn’t mean I’m a Person Who Thought The End Of Lost Was Awesome now. No, it still leaves a bad taste in my mouth. But I’m finding it easier to direct my anger only at bullies, and I’d like to put something a little more positive out there in the universe, especially since suddenly, thousands of people are listening.
Lost was all about the Jack’s journey from Man of Science to Man of Faith. Lots of us think the journey ought to go the other way, but the writers of Lost didn’t, and that’s their choice. I don’t have to like it, but I do like their central theme about living together so we don’t die alone.
I also wanted to thank the thousands of people who took the time to read my rant, the thousands of people who said that it really spoke for them. For my part, I got a lot of my rage out, and it’s not healthy to rant forever. I might have hated the end, but I did love the show for a long time, loved it in a completely unique way, as far as television goes.