Shapiro, Alan N.: TV’s ‘Lost’. The Crash Out of Globalization and Into the World, 02.03.07

We Are ‘Lost Together’

The television show Lost premiered on September 22, 2004. En route from Sydney, Australia to Los Angeles, California, USA, Oceanic Airlines Flight 815 crashes on an unknown Island in the South Pacific. The 48 survivors find themselves in hostile surroundings. Combining elements of drama, mystery, science fiction, fantasy, adventure, thriller and Reality-TV, Lost is arguably the most original and influential TV program since Star Trek in the 1960s. It is at the forefront of the ongoing total revolution of suspenseful content and technological creativity in television. It has received all the major industry awards in the USA, such as the Emmy and the Golden Globe. It is seen in more than 70 countries. An Informa media survey of 20 countries concluded in July 2006 that Lost is the second most viewed TV show in the world (behind CSI: Miami). In my media studies writing on Lost, I continue my project of inventing the literary genre of theory-fiction that I began in my book Star Trek: Technologies of Disappearance (called by Istvan Csicsery-Ronay, Jr. in the academic journal Science Fiction Studies one of the most original works in the field of “science fiction theory” since 1993). Now going further than the retelling of stories, I write first-person phenomenological narratives of what each of the 14 major characters of Lost is feeling, perceiving, thinking, and experiencing from moment to moment. It starts in the opening scene of the Pilot Episode with the predicament of Dr. Jack Shephard, who awakens in the woods after the plane crash with a painful flesh wound in his side that I see as metaphorical for the unexamined psycho-biographical wound of men in today’s global culture. I develop a new men’s movement theory that departs significantly from all currently circulating gender theories. More generally, my view of Lost is that it is telling us more about where we are after September 11, 2001 than any other discourse that has tried to define our situation following that Event. The crash of Lost is the crash of the terrorists’ planes into the Twin Towers. Like the survivors on the Island, we confront an entirely new reality for which there is no preexisting explanation and no road map. We are truly Lost Together.