Lost, The Thing Prequel and Expectations vs Objectivity

This is something I have been meaning to get off my chest for a long time now (as you can tell by the shows I reference). I still see comments on message boards and forums about the betrayal and/or epic failure of both to this day so I am not too out-dated. The expectations of the fans of these franchises were for something different than the end results that they were given. THAT DOESN’T MEAN THEY ARE BAD! It simply means you didn’t get what you wanted.

I have never understood this way of thinking, its as if the fans should be the final arbiters of quality and that’s not the way the world works. Let me just say I am not an art critic or even took those courses in University but it should be bloody obvious that there is nothing wrong with either of them from a purely artistic perspective, they are what they are, nothing more and nothing less. Expectations can be a terrible thing to build up because when they aren’t fulfilled that can lead to hatred, sort of like a spurned lover. To make a rather dark connection, most murder victims know their killers… intimately. Love can so easily turn to hatred because we humans are horrible at taking rejection.

In the case of Lost it is especially ironic because they did indeed get what they asked for … sort of. One of the wild theories about the show during the first couple seasons was the castaways were actually dead and in purgatory. As it turned out that was true for the flash-sideways in the final season. They were also told by the show runners for the last 3 seasons that the show wasn’t about the island or its mysteries but about the characters and how their experiences affected them. And yet when it did turn out to be true about both points there was a huge fan backlash. To truly enjoy a work of art one must open up to letting the experience carry you along. Just like a roller-coaster ride you let it take you through all its twists and turns and you don’t get to steer, that is how good entertainment should always work. If you, as a fan, get to dictate the story then all the excitement of discovery goes away. If you read the end of a book you have undermined the experience completely, so why would fans of Lost want the expected to happen? The writing was solid, the acting was solid, the cinematography (does that work for TV shows?) was beautiful, there is nothing objectively wrong with this series. So what if all the mysteries weren’t answered? (But to be honest if you go back and watch the show carefully roughly 90% of those mysteries were answered.)

Now THE THING 2011 had a different problem related to expectations and this actually has made me angry because I hear this cry of betrayal from people that I highly respect and they should know better (I am looking at you Spoony One). Many genre nerds were ticked off that this one wasn’t exactly the same as the first and thus pointless. I ask why? Why would you want exactly the same movie? That would indeed make it pointless. I thought the director and writers were brilliant because they made exactly the right sort of prequel. Allow me to explain; the first movie was at its core about paranoia, you didn’t know who to trust because the Thing was stealthy and smart enough to hide until it could thingify you alone (yes I made that word up). In this it was very similar to Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Everyone assumed that the prequel would be exactly the same but the creators asked the right question that no one else seemed to notice: how did it learn to be so damn sneaky? The prequel gave us that answer, it learned from its mistakes. At the Norwegian station the Thing’s arrogance led to its downfall. It presumed that humans would be easy prey and so it was a balls-out monster attack! The mistake the creators seem to have made was assuming the audience would be receptive and perceptive enough to understand this without it being spelled out to them. That is what shocked me about Spoony’s reaction, he is damn smart and should have known better. I also like to think of it as the reverse Alien dualogy, in that series the monster was subtle and stealthy in the first movie and then went for the throat with massive numbers after that in Aliens. I have yet to see Prometheus and I have tried to keep myself fairly spoiler-free but I get the sense from word-of-mouth that the same thing (heh-heh) may be happening. I hope I am wrong and it is just mediocre and not a case of over-hyped expectations.

In conclusion, tone down your expectations and instead of getting what you want you may just get what you need (yeah I know I just ripped off the Stones).

PS: You can lead a man to reason, but you cannot make him think!