What Do We Make of Damon Lindelof's Mea Culpa to Lost Fans?
Late on Friday The Daily Beast published an essay from former Lost executive producer Damon Lindelof about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I. The crux of it: Because Lindelof, a life-long Harry Potter fanatic, found himself hating The Deathly Hallows, he finally understood what it meant to be a fan. Specifically, he finally understood that the irate sect of Lost fans who hated the series' ending had merit. "I sincerely and genuinely apologize to all those whom I have stripped of their Lost fandom just for complaining about the stuff you didn't like. It doesn't make you any less a fan," Lindelof wrote. "In fact, it just makes you honest. I respect that. And I'm genuinely sorry for ever feeling otherwise." Which begs the question: Why?
As a Lost fan who enjoyed the finale -- and as a Harry Potter fan who enjoyed The Deathly Hallows, despite its many flaws in comparison to the book -- perhaps I'm coming at this from the wrong angle. Maybe if my dander were up because Lindelof and his co-executive producer Carlton Cuse had turned six years of my life into nothing more than loose ends, red herrings and forced spirituality, I'd appreciate a tossed off apology in the form of a blog post, too. But since I'm not that fan, there is something truly lame about it all. To wit: Good and bad, Lost was Damon Lindelof's vision. As the showrunner he crafted the series and, in theory, produced the program he wanted. If some geek on Twitter or an Ain't It Cool forum didn't like what he accomplished, why should he actually care?
Of course, this brings up a larger point in the Lost mythology: Lindelof and Cuse cared too much. Too often it felt like they relied on crowdsourcing to figure out what they would do next, instead of their own instincts. (See: Nikki/Paolo; the arcs of Hurley and Sawyer.) As a result of this, the fanbase felt entitled -- Lost fans felt like part of the process -- and when things didn't go their way, they revolted. That Lindelof didn't have the stomach for such matters isn't all that surprising -- it's not nice to see yourself assailed all across the Internet -- but that lack of stomach is what separates him from TV immortals like David Chase and Matthew Weiner. They are showrunners who didn't (and don't) care what the fans think, and thus their visions weren't compromised. Do you think Chase would have ever written an apology to Sopranos fans who disagreed with him about how that series ended?
In the end, it's the Lost faithful who should feel most burned by Lindelof. Not for leading us down a bunch of dead end streets, but for being so easy on the unfaithful who felt he had done something wrong by leading us down a bunch of dead end streets. Those people were stripped of their fandom for a reason. Let's keep it that way.