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Posts Tagged ‘media criticism’

Why the Lost Finale Sucked a Rancid Tub of Expired Dharma Ranch Dressing

May 24, 2010 82 comments

[Update: If you haven’t seen this video, you need to check it out (I’m not the only one that feels this way).]

I was really disappointed by the Lost season finale.

From Season 2 of Lost: a Screen Capture of the Hydra Logo on the Tail of a Shark Swimming Past the Camera

From the start, Lost thrived on setting up curious questions and then answering them in a way that only posed more questions. Not only was that the theme for the show – but the entire social media-driven marketing apparatus around the show catered to that aspect:

  • the creators set up fake show-related websites and 800 numbers (grabbed by astute fans who analyzed screen captures from the show that flashed by business cards or papers tacked to walls) with curious pre-recorded messages – all of which were part of two separate alternate reality games (The Lost Experience and Find 815).
  • the network’s website for the show (laden with hidden multimedia content) was filled with seething, writhing fan discussion forums where the excruciating details were analyzed (one thread I followed had days of speculation about what the spectre of Walt was saying – culminating in an audio tech reversing the audio and washing it through professional filters to undo the distortion the show’s creators had added so that it was clear as a bell and said “don’t touch the button, the button is bad.”)

Not only that, but JJ Abrams prides himself on being a fan of puzzles (which is why the show was chock full of them). Wired Magazine even had an issue dedicated to his interest in such things.

Speaking for a lot of Lost fans, I don’t give a rip if Jack gets resolution with his father and everyone ends up in bliss and carefree in the Kingdom of God. Fuck Jack.

I want to know:

  • why a Polar Bear could manifest itself out of Hurley’s comic book
  • how Walt could direct a thrown knife with his thoughts
  • WHAT the light is and why it has to be guarded (and why it’s flimsily-guarded by what appeared to be man-made stonework)
  • why the smoke machine was curiously mechanical in the sounds it made

Most of all, I want to know why the hell was there a shark swimming around in season 2 with a Dharma Initiative Hydra Project logo imprinted on its tail!

It was a fun ride, to be sure – but this was a great case of misreading what has to be the core audience of the show. ¬†Perhaps I’m wrong, and the majority of the viewership is people who love gooey sentimentality and predictable character development – but I tend not to think so.

I do also have to heap praise and credit on the show’s creators for their use of the web, social media, and gaming to build and sustain interest in the massive opus. ¬†There are three areas we can learn valuable lessons from Lost:

  • Marketers and communicators can learn a lot from analyzing the ways they used the new media available to enhance the viewing experience (likely at a very reasonable cost that is attainable by most organizations).
  • Similarly, the traditional media should be furiously scribbling notes about how to update their programming to compete with entertainment outlets like video gaming that are poaching their viewers.
  • Moreover – we ALL can learn from the model Lost presented in how gigantic and complicated tasks can be crowdsourced to the masses and completed with astonishing speed and precision as thousands apply their abilities through the collaborative tools afforded them by the web.
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