Wednesday, December 19, 2007

"A Small Theory About All The Mystery"

This is not an earth-shattering thought or anything, I admit. But I was wondering, is it possible that TPTB are not just being annoyingly coy in telling the LOST story in such a frustratingly cryptic structure? Could part of their M.O. be to immerse the viewer as much as possible into the story? That is to say, the TPTB might want us to experience the show as if each of us was a terrified Flight 815 castaway -- to place each of us into the story as if we were one of the passengers who crashed and was trying to deal with everything that was happening, as it happened. As a passenger, we would not know anything about the other passengers, the Others, the Stations, or the island, etc. We would be just as clueless as we are at this point as viewers actually, and we would learn the details bit by bit as passengers, like we are while watching. It's as if we were playing the LOST game, as that new "third person" that was created for it, only we are moving through the show each week with no controls, just as an observer to everything that's going on.

Of course, in order to tell the story sometimes TPTB have to make us, the viewers, step out of our 815-selves, and observe things from the other characters' viewpoints, or else it would be a pretty flat story line. Sometimes we have to see things as another castaway, and sometimes we see things as Ben or Juliet, to be told the stories that surround us outside the immediate circumstances. But for the most part, we are in the dark as much as any Lostie in the beach camp. And the choppy non-linear way in which we are learning about the island and its inhabitants is pretty much the same way that the 815 entourage are learning about it...piece by excruciatingly tiny piece, as every beach day goes by...just like one of the survivors.

If TPTB are creating the show for this kind of immersing effect, I think that they took a very bold and impressive gamble trusting that there would be enough intelligent or curious viewers that would be able to "play" along, until they get to the point where the Losties and the viewers started to learn all the mysteries together. I don't know if I'm correct in this theory, because most likely TPTB would have told us that this is how they are writing the story for us to view it, and I've never read that they have stated this. They have told us about other ways that they have been inspired to write the story to explain their method, so they would probably mention this angle as well. But I wonder. The show sure does often make me feel as clueless as one of the Lostaways who have been left out of the loop, as Hurley put it. And I have a feeling that as the secrets and mysteries are revealed to Jack and his gang, that we will be having the same "Eureka!" moments that they will be experiencing, and at the same time. It can't be too much fun to present a show's story in this fashion, so if they are, there are sure to be big payoffs as we and the Lostaways learn more about their predicament in Season 4 together.


memphish said...

Capcom, the thing that first sucked me into this show was the notion that I could be one of the survivors. I love all those quizzes that asks you questions to figure out which survivor you are -- I usually end up Kate or maybe Shannon. I've even flown from Sydney to Los Angeles before.

I think Season 1 especially was a find your place in the beach camp type of story. That's why viewers get so divisive about their favorite characters.

Since Season 1 I think we've moved away from this partially because Season 1 did such a good job aligning us with our original castaways. People were unhappy at the start of both Seasons 1 and 2 that TPTB wanted to tell us about new people. "But what's happening with Hurley?" groaned across the internet.

I'm personally loving this non-linear story-telling despite the frustration of not being in the know. As viewers we are in a weird middle level of understanding. We have a lot more information that any of the actual survivors have courtesy of the backstories and our ability to be where the action is. But we still aren't the ominiscient Deux in the Machina or anywhere else. That role is still reserved for TPTB and like those who've wrapped the presents this time of year, they occupy that delicious, malicious position of knowing what, when and how we and the LOSTies will get all our answers.

maven said...

I for one like this method of story-telling. I don't look at the last page of the book first!

By becoming so involved in this show with all of you guys, the story that is slowly becoming revealed to us is so much more meaningful. It's very frustrating to talk to casual viewers who just watch the show and "take it what it's worth". There are so many layers to this story that sucks you in and makes you think and ponder. I think the casual viewers are definitely not getting everything they can out of the Lost experience!

capcom said...

Right Memphish and Maven! I'm glad that the Suits and Beancounters at ABC are trusting the Lost creators to satisfy those of us that are interested in the gory details, to allow the show to go on. Even though the ratings and the negative outcry sometimes gets a little scary (for the Suits that is).

Lost 2010 said...

My husband insisted I take a look at Lost and I refused to sit down and watch because it was about a plane crash. I was sucked in because I passed through the room and he said to me - "It's about that girl there (Kate). She's trying to figure out which one of those blonde guys was the fugitve."

And I watched for a minute and said - "Neither one, it's her."

Probably the only Lost speculation that I've ever gotten right, but it hooked me.

I think the mysteries are what keep the audience so involved.

Paula Abdul Alhazred said...

You've raised a really good point here. I think part of the idea of LOST is definitely to immerse the audience in mystery as much as the characters. This sounds dumb, but it's a lot like life: Stuff happens, it doesn't entirely make sense to us, different people have different information, and we all have a different take on what the ultimate meaning is. It really is a show about meaning, and about trying make sense of a mysterious world. I think it strikes something primal and exciting, because mystery is what stimulates the imagination. Look at all the exciting theories that people come up with. The show didn't create those; the viewers did. And we create them because the show provokes our imaginations.

It's interesting, cause you really can see that the audience is in the same boat as the characters. People's ideas about what's really going on with the series reflect who are they are. Someone will watch it and stubbornly insist there's a scientific and logical explanation for everything, that nothing weird is actually happening. Someone else watches it and perceives LOST as a sci-fi series about extreme possibilities. Another person watches it and decides upon a supernatural or religious answer to the many mysteries. And we see those same viewpoints reflected in characters like Jack, Locke, Eko, etc. Just look at an episode like "Flashes Before Your Eyes." Fifty percent of the audience watched it and thought it was clear that Desmond time traveled; the other fifty percent watched it and thought it was perfectly clear that Desmond didn't time travel. We all saw the same thing, but had vastly different interpretations. The discussions and debates and arguments and theories that LOST provokes are not only a major part of the experience, but in some ways, they're almost more siginificant than the series itself.

capcom said...

I'm glad that he got you to start watching Lost2010! :-)

Right PAA, good points. I also think that the show has really spurred us to think as if we are really inside the situation, as a kind of "what would I do if it were me" proposal, the way Rod Serling used to do with the Twilight Zone all the time. He knew how to write stories that said, "Here's the situation, what would you do? Would you be the good guy or the loser? The rational guy or the nutcase?" TPTB of Lost have done the same thing!

Jay said...

I think part of the addictive nature of the show is that it's both a character drama and a really cool puzzle.

Darlton like to compare the show to serial novels of old that were released one chapter at a time. People use to flock to the stores the day they were released to get the next part of the story.

Personally I love it, but it's so different in this day and age that I can see how people would become frustrated with it. :)

Ange said...

Great insights Capcom, once again. I always enjoy your blog so much!

Paula has an excellent point as well, about people seeing Lost in different ways. I think it's why the show touches so many audiences. Not everyone is as involved in it as say, oh...hmmm us, but people can certainly see themselves on the island.

It's a really nifty thing when there is a show that can suck me in and make me obsess over it, make new friends through discussion about it, and also be able to talk to my mother and father weekly about "That heavy guy" or "The bald one". LOL, layers, obsessiveness, and interpretations differ and it makes great conversation.

capcom said...

Jay, you're right, it is more and more unusual for a TV show, or even movies, to make us really think. I'm hoping that Lost will start a trend back to the "thinking man's TV" of the golden age of TV -- no offense to us wimmenz, it's just an expression.

Thanks Ange! I enjoy your and Fenris' blog a lot too! Yes, anything that get's people communicating intellectually is a very good thing. :-)

Cool_Freeze said...

LOST has probably kept my attention for that very reason...

I want off the island..I want to get home..and that essentially is what is going to make the show complete for knowing that everyone is rescued..even if the mysteries are not answered. I think TPTB know that.

GREAT POST usual. =]


capcom said...

Thanks CF! Now that's an interesting viewpoint. I think that I sort of wanted to stay on the island, until everything went to heck-inna-handbasket. Now I just feel like I want to get away from all the nutcases living there! :-)