Saturday, April 12, 2008

"Thoughts On LOST vs. The Stand"

I'm still looking for the demarcation lines of Good and Evil.
I was just telling someone how great the book (and miniseries) "The Stand" by Stephen King is, and I started to think about its connections to LOST according to TPTB. Lots of comparisons have been made between the two. But the one thing that The Stand has that LOST doesn't have (yet?), is defined good and evil sides. As the survivors of the superflu traveled to their final destinations for an event that they didn't quite understand yet, we weren't sure about the intentions of some of the travelers. Then as they each converged on Boulder and Las Vegas, we knew which side they were fighting for. So I'm trying to think of the LOST story in the same way to be more patient. While it's been frustrating that many of the islanders and factions have very fuzzy ethical boundaries and that sometimes I don't know which "side" to cheer for, I'm hoping that as we inch toward the end of the story, the "good and bad sides" will become clear like in The Stand. Do you think?

On a LOST/Stand factoid note: According to Wiki, Charlie Pace was loosely based on the character of Larry Underwood in The Stand. That sounds possible as both are musicians corrupted in the music business, get one big hit with a dubious song, find true love after tragedy, and redemption via self-sacrifice. I have to say though, "You All Everybody" seems like a better song than, "Baby, Can You Dig Your Man", heheh.

Also now that I think about it, Locke in his blowing-everything-up mission reminds me a lot of Trashcan Man. Trashy kept saying, "My life for you," while burning down cities on his way to Vegas. And Locke has dedicated his new life to serving the island, by blowing up everything he can along his pilgrimage. Hmmm, another similarity TPTB?


memphish said...

I agree Capcom that I'm still waiting for a clear definition of good and bad when it comes to LOST. But I love how they haven't simplified things, but made everyone capable of both good and bad.

I was just talking about this with my son the other day, how those we perceive of as "the good guys," i.e. our LOSTies and Desmond are still capable of doing very bad things both on and off Island, both pre and post crash. And those who are "bad," Widmore, the Others, are still sometimes capable of doing things that are good.

LOST is unusual in story-telling in that the sides are much more blurry, like in real life, than in most fiction. I think it's an excellent reflection of where we find ourselves in terms of battling terrorism with both sides thinking they are fighting for "good," and both sides willing to do very bad things to achieve those ends.

I like the Charlie and Locke comparisons as well. Especially Locke as Trash Can Man. The only thing he's missing is his own pyromaniac flashback. :D I guess Claire is the girl (sorry I can't remember the name) in The Stand -- pregnant with one man's baby much to her parents' dismay and then falling in love with another one who is willing to sacrifice himself for the group.

memphish said...
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Capcom said...
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Capcom said...

You're so correct Memphish, in life there are good people who do crummy things and rotten people who sometimes get it right (like the proverbial broken watch). And even with the rotten ones, you try not to wish ill on them, and you feel sympathy for them when a loved one dies. The average workplace is a microcosm for that example. Even for the most evil coworker, we'd still pass around a card and collect a donation if they got sick or whatever.

It's just that on LOST, when one side or person accomplishes a victory against the other side I find myself going, "Yaaay! Um, I think?" It get's confusing! One minute you're thinking "Go Locke!" and the next you thinking, "BAD Locke!" :o)

Fran is the pregnant version of Claire in The Stand, that's another good similarity as well!

Paula Abdul Alhazred said...

I'm currently re-reading THE STAND for the millionth time, so this post caught my eye. The similarities between the two stories are pretty amazing:

- People survive a cataclysmic event and have to rebuild.

- A pregnant woman is threatened by bizarre forces.

- A main character is a one-hit wonder pop star who is considered immature and worries that he's a coward (and who sacrifices himself).

- There are separate groups of people who are opposed and don't understand each other.

- Science vs. faith is a major theme in both stories. Also, both stories combine realistic, sci-fi and supernatural concepts.

- The volatile nature of old dynamite factors into both stories.

- Characters navigate a desolate and abandoned landscape of a ruined civilization.

- Each story depicts a group of people who are led by a seemingly mystical being.

I picked up pretty quickly that LOST was majorly inspired by THE STAND and I think that appealed to me, because it's one of my all-time favorite books and movies. Lindelof even mentioned that Locke is somewhat inspired by Flagg, a fact which continues to haunt me.

You know, although LOST hasn't presented groups who are clearly good or clearly evil, duality is a major theme in the series and I do think that connects back to THE STAND. The black vs. white imagery that has been so common throughout the show really does refer to dualism, whether it's good/evil, science/faith, rational/irrational, castaways/Others, etc. It's just that in THE STAND, the duality is real, and in LOST it seems to be an illusion. Or, at least, on LOST everything contains an element of both good and evil, and it's the choices the characters make which define them. Also, LOST is concerned with the idea of the greater good, and how the greater good can seem evil when it's at odds with someone else's existence.

Not that I'm saying anything new here, but I do think that duality is a theme that links LOST and THE STAND. It's just that LOST is hinting towards a transcendence of duality, whereas THE STAND actually depicts the emergence of a clearly-defined and extant duality. To me, LOST deals in very Judeo-Christian themes, but it handles them in a way more akin to Eastern spirituality or pagan mysticism, where THE STAND is a more traditionally Judeo-Christian depiction of a kind of mythic version of America. But even in THE STAND, the "bad guys" are mostly regular people who've been misled because they are too obedient to Flagg, and the "good guys" are flawed people who have made some big mistakes. So THE STAND does have some level of moral complexity as well.

Memphish, I agree with the parallel on the show to modern day terrorism. Although I doubt it's intentional, I think LOST is very much a reaction to the post-9/11 world we all live in today. What's great is that LOST isn't a political show, so it can deal with these ideas in a more organic and universal fashion than any of these agenda-driven stories that are starting to dominate our culture (and I mean that in a politically neutral perspective on my part).

Capcom said...

I'm re-reading The Stand this year too PAA. Yes, a ton of similarities can be found, for sure.

Locke is supposed to be like Flagg? Oh Lordy. Although, in that one screencap of Locke in the sweat lodge pouring water over himself, he kind of looks like a devil. :-)

Well I guess I'm dense, I don't really see any hints to fighting terrorism in LOST, any more than the similarities I can see to fighting a war for your life in general, as we've seen happen in world history many times over. If LOST reminds me of anything, I get a kind of Viking vibe from it, since there is so much merciless surprise attacking and pillaging. :o) I guess if we find out that one of the faction sides will do anything to wipe all other sides off the face of the planet, then I could make the connection to terrorists. :-)

Good thoughts Memphish and PAA, thanks!