Pedantic Semantics

Not at all pretentious

Weighing in.

Posted by Paul on July 7, 2010

Perhaps this is a little presumptuous for my second post ever, but there is something I wish to address. It is going on out in internet land, and it’s been happening for a month and a half now. It isn’t something that was unexpected, of course. I’m talking about the debate over the series finale, and I knew there would be people that didn’t like it, that hated it even. I expected comments sections of blogs on both sides of the aisle (so to speak) to be full of vitriol and the worst kind of internet nonsense. What I didn’t expect was for several of the bloggers themselves to engage in that same nonsense. I suppose I should know better. Bloggers have been known to say things that a real journalist would feel ashamed they’d even thought of saying. I guess I just kept expecting Lost fans to be a different breed. Cooler headed, more civilized and intellectual. Whoops.

That’s not to say that a lot of these people aren’t intelligent. In the heady days directly after “The End” aired, I read thoughts from all across the spectrum. Many loved it, many loathed it, some just felt kind of “meh”. What they all managed to be was congenial. Then I read this.

The woman who goes by the name Fishbiscuit is a smart, often insightful, and witty person. I formed this opinion of her when I started reading her blog on Docarzt.com. At the time, I was waiting around for the final season to start, and she was doing a rewatch of the first season, and it was very entertaining to read, despite the occasional accusation of sexism in the writers’ room that I found questionable (it’s something she was not alone in saying, but I’ll get into that in a later post, after I’ve rewatched some episodes). So far so good.  As season six wore on though, somewhere around the two-thirds point, she started dreading the ending that she saw was coming. It didn’t end in quite the way she’d postulated. It ended, in fact, in a way she hated even more than I thought she would.

Okay, she didn’t like it. Her opinion was as valid as anyone else’s (perhaps more so than many, since most of the time she knew what she was talking about). Unfortunately, the comments section started to get mean. I’m talking darkest corners of the internet mean. (Okay, maybe not quite that bad, but you get the idea.) I have to think that this had something to do with the tone she took in her final post. You see, it wasn’t that she felt that the finale was a bomb that invalidated the entire series. That is neither here nor there. What made me stop and say “Okay… wow.” was the unadulterated scorn for the people who liked the finale, and not  just the ones who called her things I shan’t repeat here. She went after anyone who even dared to enjoy the last few hours of this show.

Every. Last. One.

Now, where this blanket derision comes from I couldn’t say for sure. I’ve never met her, I don’t know anything about her life. She’s not even the only one. There are many voices on the internet that were convinced the only people who could like this thing were delusional, ignorant, nerdy, hateful “fanboys”. So, what to do with the fact that neither myself nor the people I know that liked the finale fit that description one iota? I suppose Fishbiscuit and others might have some choice words to describe us, or they might ignore that we exist, or they might (and I hope this is the case) decide that maybe evaluating a person based solely on whether or not they like a television show you didn’t is a lousy way to go about it.

The question still remains, though. Why?  Well, like I said, I don’t know this woman or any of these other people, so all I can do is theorize…

Point 1: These people invested years of their lives in this show. They stuck through it even when they felt it wasn’t living up to their expectations, because they trusted the writers to end it in a satisfying way.

Point 2: This show did not end in a satisfying way for any of these people. They feel their trust has been betrayed. Whether or not this is the case is something I have neither the time nor energy to get into right now. So, how does any normal human being react when they’ve been betrayed? It can run the gamut from forgiveness to murderous rage (both of which we’ve seen on Lost), but there’s a point in-between that is most common which brings us to…

Point 3: The most common reaction to betrayal is anger, and a need to lash out at the person who betrayed you. And who have most of the aggrieved parties decided is their man? Damon Lindelof. So Damon Lindelof betrayed you. I won’t delve any further into that part of the equation, but I must ask: what besides the act of betrayal itself brings on the anger? You’ve been duped, of course. Being duped makes one feel stupid, and being made to feel stupid will naturally make one angry. So, how does one deal with that?

Point 4: As I said, first you point out the person who “duped” you. But what about a case like this? Nobody’s died. Nobody’s been literally cheated, robbed, or unduly harmed in any way. What we’re talking about here is that a large group of people invested over one hundred hours of their lives in a story that turned out, for them, to have been a huge waste of time. But what happens when there’s another large group of people who loved the very show that you feel jerked you around for six years?

Point 5: There are three possibilities here.  If some people had a transcendent, emotional experience with this thing, and some didn’t, then perhaps the people who didn’t enjoy it have some problem with processing emotion or whatever strawman you’d like to stand up. The second possibility, and the one I feel is correct, is that, just like anything else, some people liked it, some people didn’t. That’s just the way it is. But “that’s just the way it is” may not sit well with the aggrieved parties. Those people got something “I” didn’t, in other words. This brings us to the final point.

Point 6: If the first two possibilities are unpalatable, that leaves the person robbed of a satisfyng ending with one option. Those that liked it must have something wrong with them. They are sub-epsilon morons. They are “fanboys” that lap up whatever their beloved Lindelof feeds them, and can’t face the truth that they’ve been duped. Lost is Jonestown, and we’ve drunk the Kool-Aid. This can give satisfaction to the person that feels they’ve wasted their time, because if the people that liked it are idiots anyway, then those that didn’t like it can go on knowing the raw deal they got isn’t quite so raw. It sucks, but at least you didn’t lose out to people just like you. It maybe salves the pain a bit.

Once again, I’m theorizing. I don’t know these people, and for all I know, they could all be jerks, or they could all be right. In fact, I only singled out Fishbiscuit because hers was the most egregious example of bashing dissenters among people who aren’t completely unhinged. I can’t even blame her for forming the picture she has of those who were satisfied by the ending, because the only ones really arguing for it on her blog are mostly inarticulate and malicious. The more well adjusted have gone on with their lives without giving the bile on the web a second thought. What does that say about me, then? I’d like to think I’m a fairly well adjusted person, but I felt someone needed to remind those that have collectively written off the satisfied as cretins that hey, our opinion can be valid, too, and to extend an olive branch. Did it take over a thousand words to do it? Probably not, but here we are.

Remember, everyone. Just because you’re on the internet doesn’t mean you have to act like its worst representatives. So, um… Namaste?

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4 Responses to “Weighing in.”

  1. katylin said

    I need to see it before I can really say anything.
    It is nice to see you writing again.
    I think that writing is a healthy escape.
    Maybe I can borrow these near Thanksgiving?
    Love K

  2. MeriJ said

    I had the same reaction reading the comments at FB and posed pretty much the same question there.

    I get the feeling that a big part of the anger stems from how these commenters were treated at other sites in the months and years prior to The Ending. They feel that if they pointed out flaws in how the show was proceeding, they were immediately shouted down as mindless haters or scornfully dismissed as dumb ‘shippers.

    If you’re a clear thinker and you take your time crafting well considered arguments, getting a wall of thoughtless responses like that will piss you off every time.

    So FBland has become one of the few places where disappointed Lost fans can express their dismay without getting shouted down.

    I also notice that the worst comments (those expressing contempt towards fans who liked the ending) tend to come from people who don’t post a username. So it’s hard to tell whether one or two people are responsible for most of the negative comments. To my ear, many of the Anonymous posts sound like the same writer.

    • issun said

      You make some excellent points, and I appreciate your response. I never saw the comments on FB’s blog proper until the last entry, so I don’t know what they were like there, but when I saw the responses at Docarzt they were pretty horrible (I even sent an e-mail about it to docarzt because it was getting so ridiculous). I can imagine that would start to piss a person off after a while. I may disagree with most of what she’s said the past few months, but so many of the responses were beyond uncalled for.

      Also, disregarding everything else, that was pretty ballsy of FB to put that writeup on the web.

      • MeriJ said

        True. But you know it’s not just Fish I was talking about. Many of the commenters there appear to have had similar experiences. Bear in mind that I’m speaking as a total newcomer at Fishbiscuitland — like you I read the recaps but never the comments until that doozy on The End.

        It’s also easy in these situations to assume that there’s a cohesive group which is well represented by the few who speak up a lot. But in fact the louder voices often project a skewed impression.

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