Long ago, I foolishly accepted the idea that horror, sci-fi and fantasy films, book and television series did not have emotional resonance of more serious dramas because of the fantastical elements inherent of their genre. Someone I respected subscribed to this notion that these works weren’t legitimate art and I became convinced that Stephen King books, graphic novels, and films like John Carpenter’s The Thing, E.T. and Field of Dreams, while involving and often emotional, were not legitimate art. I was lead to believe that the only fiction with substance came from the likes of William Faulkner or Cormac McCarthy, that the value of big blockbusters was for entertainment value only, and that arthouse / indie films were the only works of cinema worth recognizing when discussing universal themes. Additionally, television was considered a vast wasteland of useless information (you know, ”fifty-seven channels and nothing on”) save for rare exceptions like thirtysomething or Homicide: Life on the Streets.
It took some twenty years to shake this train of thought, but thanks to Lost, ABC’s series about a group of plane crash survivors and the adventure they through on a mysterious island, I’ve been inspired. Thoughtfully written, expertly directed and acted, smartly written, with a moving score by Michael Giacchino, Lost is science fiction crossed with character drama; high action was complimented by intimate moments. It reawakened my love for the fantasy genre as a means of expressing what I believe and how I feel about the world.
Besides drawing from classic works of film and literature, LOST also owes a great deal to The Twilight Zone, Rod Serling’s influential anthology series from the 1960’s that tackled current events through fantastical plots like alien invaders or the curse of stopping time. I worshipped Rod Serling when I was younger, for his courage and his writing; and I saw nearly every episode of The Twilight Zone, sometimes holing up in the basement to watch reruns on our old black and white television, late at night. Yet, when I took on my new viewpoint of fantasy and science fiction, I only looked upon The Twilight Zone with nostalgia. Fortunately, the plight of the survivors of Oceanic flight 815 made me want to search out those old episodes again.
In a world in which we’re getting more isolated, with so many choices in music, television and films streaming on the Internet or through our individualized DVR selections, I refuse to apologize for feeling emotion over a TV program. Like so many of the great songs and films I have written about, Lost has stirred in me a release of emotions at times when I needed to let go. And because of that, because of the cast of characters and what they’ve gone through, and because of the vast community of fans on the Internet, I have not felt so alone.
Since I first started watching Lost, two years ago, I’ve become passionate about the story, the characters and the mystery surrounding the show; I’ve become passionate about the craftsmanship behind the making of this complex series; I’ve become passionate about how the writers, directors, actors and crew made a show as intricate as a novel, as cinematic as an epic film, and as profound as that favorite song you listen to through headphones every chance you get.
Some may question my adoration of Lost, like I’m some obsessive with nothing better to do with my time. I say, if you’ve never seen an episode and think that it’s just science fiction nonsense you’re missing something special. Of course, I also enjoy a good prog rock song once a week. If I’m crying over two characters separated over time and space or if I’m cheering at the sight of a man overcoming inconceivable obstacles to find redemption and love, I think of my own life and how blessed I am. Although the odds may seem against my family, at times, there is so much love in our home from which I draw strength. That I’m reminded of this through watching an hour or two of fantasy television is all the justification I need for proclaiming my love for the show.
As Lost began winding down to its series finale (airing this Sunday), I found myself drawn to Peter Gabriel’s music. His music would fit perfectly against the backdrop of the show, that is, if Michael Giacchino weren’t involved. Gabriel’s glorious combination of organic and electronic sounds creates achingly beautiful, yet intensely haunting music. It can be esoteric; at times jarring and strange, coming from a deep, brooding place, somewhere deep within him. His soul comes through in every performance, even when his productions are crisp and kind of sterile. Often, it feels as if Gabriel’s voice is right in front of you, his sole audience.
A month ago, my friend, Kevin, suggested I give another listen to a song from Peter Gabriel’s most recent album, Scratch My Back. I forgot the title of the song and randomly chose the artist’s beautiful interpretation of Lou Reed’s ”The Power of the Heart.” The song’s simple melody and unobtrusive orchestration seemed to be waiting for me when I started playing it the first time. Listening to ”The Power of the Heart” immediately brought to mind Michael Giacchino’s poignant music for Lost. Although the to have nothing to do with each other, it felt as if this song and the end of Lost were somehow cosmically linked. At least, they were for me.
My many repeated listens to ”The Power of the Heart” didn’t send me down a rabbit’s hole of grief over the end of one of my favorite TV shows. Instead, I started thinking about the love of my life, Julie, and how I would do anything for her and our family. Her happiness and the well being of our children is all that matters in my life and I’m willing to sacrifice my needs, my dreams and my life to ensure those things.
As with any work of art, Lost, like the Gabriel song, has made me reflect on my life and look inside myself and think about my place in this world. It has taught me to be compassionate and forgiving, reminded me that people make egregious mistakes in their lifetime, and that we all are capable of forgiveness, and worthy of redemption. Call this epic series what you like- brilliant, bizarre, pretentious, silly, nonsense- I don’t care. To me, Lost has meaning, and that makes it legitimate.