Why Lost is the Greatest Piece of Popular Culture of the Last Decade

By Sam Flynn on February 11, 2013

I was recently in a conversation with my friend Scott (possibly the most cliché way to begin a story, but go with me) and our discussion naturally progressed from sexual exploits to our mutual love of the TV show Lost. I’ll recap the conversation, but remove the dick jokes. Most of them.

Lost is considered a watershed television show known for bringing serialized storytelling back to the small screen. Numerous attempts to strike lightning again on network television (Heroes, FlashFoward, Invasion, Surface, The Event etc.) have failed with only a select few now surviving on the only haven for good television: basic and premium cable. Now fair warning: shit is about to get really nerdy, so bail now while you can. Unless you’re a hot nerd chick and are really into short white Irish kids who know WAY TOO MUCH about movies and television. In which case, totally stay.

While Scott is fundamentally wrong about his favorite episode (clearly, Walkabout is superior to The Moth, amiright), he did illuminate to me that The Moth is, in fact, the most important episode in all of lost. Not only was it was the first episode focused on the most well-known actor in the cast (Dominic Monaghan’s Charlie, a heroin addict from a one-hit-wonder band), and is about his withdrawal and apprenticeship to the wise hunter John Locke (Terry O’Quinn) in his struggle to choose not to continue taking drugs.

Locke gives Charlie an ultimatum: he will be allowed to ask three times for the drugs that Locke took from Charlie previously. On the third time, Locke will give it to him. When Charlie asks why he would do that, Locke shows him a butterfly slowing emerging from a cocoon. Where before was a weak caterpillar, there was now a nascent butterfly. If he had helped it too much, Locke claims, it would be too weak to survive in the real world. Locke is testing Charlie’s will, his faith in himself. And that’s when in our conversation it hit me.

From lostpedia.wiki

Lost has always had so many elements to talk about. Hell, that was part of its appeal. The philosophy, the science, the supernatural, who are the Others, what was the statue, there’s time travel?  All these keep REAL fans like me and SYNTHETIC fans like Scott (SARCASTIC HIPSTER ASIDE: he watched the whole show in three months leading up the finally. He is merely a false prophet of the doctrine of Lost). And while I agree the show stumbled more than a few times. The show has always provided rich thematic material with which to dig into. But the thing that has stuck with me and my friend Scott all these years isn’t simply the smoke monster, the hatch, or anything else. It’s a certain theme that I couldn’t put my finger on until this conversation. It’s letting yourself be happy.

It sounds weird to credit something in popular culture for helping personal issues and forming deep bonds. It’s something I couldn’t really accept. Until now. There are a lot of things I’m coming to terms with lately, being proactive, being (or rather wanting to be) a rapper,  but I will have to thank Scott for opening both our eyes. Life is too short to make it hard on yourself. Others will try their best to do it themselves. And sometimes they’ll win. But that is what makes us stronger.

Simply talking about a fiction between two nonexistent people over 8 years ago influenced my thinking today. It made me think about how I sabotage myself on the way to happiness; how refusing to let go of my past mistakes has caused me to make mistakes in the present. Just like Charlie and, in fact, much more like Locke. It’s he who sees the island as a fresh start, a new beginning to be the exact person you want to be, without apologies.

“Lost is essentially about Locke coming to terms with his love of dick sucking. It’s the greatest show GLAAD never knew about,” Scott interrupted into my thinking. “Of course Locke liked Charlie, he was a twink!”

I laughed and nodded, taking great pleasure in the fact that Scott thought that statement would never reach the Internet. Quota: met.

By Sam Flynn

Uloop Writer
It takes a real asshole to sum themselves up in a few words. So I will. I am a sophomore journalism student at Ohio University with a minor in creative writing. I am copy editor at the InterActivist magazine, secretary for Theta Chi fraternity, and columnist for Rascal magazine. I love books, film, tattoos, MMA, motorcycles, rapping, and blazers. My idols are George Carlin, Kevin Smith, J.K. Rowling, J.R.R. Tolkien, Neil Gaiman, and Hunter S. Thompson. I am also now officially an asshole. Cheers!

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