Columns, Opinion

HAGEN: The 'Lost' mind

The lights are off. It is completely dark except for the faint glow of the television. The room is totally silent. Seemingly incomprehensible images come up on the screen. Polar bears? Hydrogen bombs? A four-toed foot statue? You meekly venture an inquiry as to what is happening but the only response you get is a very annoyed and uniform “SHHHHH!” You quickly make your retreat before you become more confused, or before the audience watching can kick you out for daring to speak during this sacred hour. That’s right: you are living with “Lost” fans and you don’t know how you will endure the whole season. As a self-proclaimed “Lost” nerd myself, I understand your confusion over the strange cult-like obsession that the show’s fans have adopted. I will attempt to explain the phenomenon of “Lostmania,” but first some survival tips for getting through this last season are in order.
Do not, under any circumstance, do anything remotely distracting during the show. This is not some silly reality program or mindless sitcom during which you can chat. “Lost” requires one’s full concentration; thus anything you say or do that turns attention away from the TV will be considered a crime against humanity. If you value your health just shut your mouth.

By the same token, if you value your mental stability, do not ask a friend to explain what the show is about &- unless you want to be held up for at least five hours and come away more perplexed than you started, it is not worth it. It will all seem basic at first: A bunch of people crash-land on an island and have to survive. “I read “Lord of the Flies’ in high school,” you think. “It doesn’t sound much more complicated than that!” But that’s where you are wrong. It would be like “Lord of the Flies” if you were on LSD while reading it, which you were not. You were in 10th grade. And last time I checked Jack, Piggy and Ralph did not have to contend with giant smoke monsters, time travel and ghosts. Also there was no sex. “Lost” definitely has that going for it.

All of this may sound absolutely crazy to you, but do not insinuate to a friend that you think “Lost” is stupid. I know exactly what you are thinking: “Smoke monsters? Ghosts? It sounds ridiculous.” Refrain from speaking these feelings out loud unless you have at least 10 hours to spare. Your friend will take five hours to explain why “Lost” is the best thing to ever happen to him or her, and then the next five hours will be spent trying to recount the plot &- the plot you will never understand. Sorry if you cannot comprehend the intricate complexities of the show. Go back to watching “Two and a Half Men” if you can’t deal.
Do not despair. Remember, there is only one season left and soon it will all be over. Of course, this is going to be the most mind-blowing season ever, and the constant hype may force you to contemplate literally blowing your mind out. In order to avoid this, simply do not go anywhere near the TV when the show is on, and never broach the subject of “Lost” around fans. In fact, try not using the word “lost” at all. Cutting out common vocabulary from your everyday language usage may seem annoying, but it is a small price to pay in order to retain your sanity.

Now, unlike the show itself, I will actually answer your biggest and most unresolved questions. You are not only wondering “Why is the show so popular?” but also “Why are people so consumed by it?” You are justified in being confused. “Lost” is, indeed, incredibly complicated, with countless characters and storylines weaved throughout. This is not a show to be watched recreationally, but rather it invites the viewer to participate in the mystery and the intrigue. The viewer may be on his couch at home, but during the hour-long show he feels as if he is on the island &- as if he is a character. Outside of the actual broadcast, a culture centered on discussing theories about the plot has been built, and the combination of these two factors is why the concept behind “Lost” is genius. The viewer not only feels a part of the show but retains that sentiment even after the credits roll.

I believe that the ultimate purpose of TV and movies is to provide an entertaining diversion from the simple pressures of everyday life. Not only has this show provided this distraction one hour each week, but has harnessed the use of the Internet through blogs, videos and fan sites in order to give viewers as many hours of distraction as they desire. While I do not recommend it, you could preoccupy yourself 24 hours a day investigating plot leads, researching characters and espousing theories as to where the show is headed. While this complete immersion may be a little extreme, sometimes when life is tough, the economy is down and you feel overwhelmed by stress, you want to experience a release for more than an hour per week. And sometimes you may need to get a little lost just to get by.

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