Literalists, progresives, and Lost

I like this, from Newsweek:

Lost‘s viewers fall into two categories, those who adhere to reason and those who follow their faith. The Lost literalists believe that the show is infallible, that it’s not only an engrossing, entertaining television show, it’s holy writ–divinely inspired, all-knowingly conceived, and absolutely inerrant. In other words, the show’s many, many loose ends–the smoke monster, the polar bear–have to be resolved. The progressives like the show just fine, but they accept its limitations. They know that television shows adapt, that actors leave or get pregnant, budgets get cut, writers go on strike. More than that, they know that ideas change, that good ideas are orphaned in favor of great ones, that Lost doesn’t have to be perfect in order to be important. In short, Lost has gone beyond being just a show about faith to being a meta-commentary on faith.

Maybe not entirely surprisingly, I’m firmly in the progressive camp. I’ve always found Lost most compelling when seen as a parable of human existence, not a meticulously constructed imagined reality. Obviously, some degree of continuity and–I won’t say plausibility–coherence are necessary for any satisfying storytelling, but I really couldn’t care less about the polar bear, Walt’s super powers, etc.

It’s interesting how many SF fans take a “literalistic” approach to the genre’s products. The “continuity police” types so familiar on message boards (and, in days of yore, in comic book letter columns) seem strangely incongruous with the suspension of disbelief necessary to get fantasy and SF off the ground.

ADDENDUM: Nice pre-S6 write-up from the AV Club’s Noel Murray (whose Lost reviews I read faithfully).

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One thought on “Literalists, progresives, and Lost

  1. “It’s interesting how many SF fans take a “literalistic” approach to the genre’s products.”

    It really, truly is. People live by and for meaningful stories and they can turn fundamentalist over practically anything. It’s fascinating to see calm, sober, secular, rationalists tying themselves in knots and fiercely bickering about stories and worlds they (apparently) KNOW are fictional.

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