Monday, May 24, 2010

The Lost Dads of Lost

Just finished watching the series finale of LOST, and as expected, it left a lot of questions unanswered.  (Hello, what happened to Michael and Walt? What is the island?  What is the sideways plane? How does the thing in the center work?  Who built the giant statue?  How did Jacob manipulate the numbers to work?  How did he leave the island so many times?

But leaving aside these questions, I started thinking about the main characters,  and me being who I am (and this blog being what it's about) I started thinking about their fathers, and realized that  in some ways this show is a show about failed fathers.

Not that these fathers don't love their children, but somehow, they've all neglected to be good dads, and their neglect has made them the LOST characters what they are, and set them on their path.  One might say it's pre-destiny, or just a tenet of good television writing, but I think it's worthy of note.

Let's take a little inventory, shall we?

Benjamin Linus-- his dad beats him and neglects him, blaming him for his mother's death, nearly forcing him to run away and join the Others. He himself turns into a bad dad, stealing a baby away, and causing her death at the hands of a mercenary.

Jack Shephard - he strives constantly for his dad's approval, his dad is a drunk and an alcoholic who doesn't spend enough time with Jack, making him into a perfectionist. Even after his death, Jack's dad, Christian haunts him.

Hugo "Hurley" Reyes - his dad abandons his parents when he is a young child, and only really re-appears when Hurley wins the lottery.

John Locke- never really knew his father, but when he finally finds him, he's a con-man who ends up cheating him out of a kidney, and throwing him out a window, crippling him.

Kate Austen - Her biological dad (and step-dad)  is an abuser, so much so that she kills him to save herself and her mother.  This puts her on the run.

Miles Straume- His dad is the Dharma Scientist Pierre Chang (along with several other names)  We don't know the whole backstory, but Chang abandons Miles as a young infant.

James "Sawyer" Ford-  His father kills himself and his mother when James is 8. This is after being taken in by a con man named Sawyer (who is actually Locke's father) This sets James on his road.

Daniel Faraday- son of wealthy industrialist Charles Widmore.  He never knows his father (although he meets him in several flashbacks)

Sun Hwae-Kwon (Paik)- daughter of a wealthy industrialist who treats her poorly, meddling in her affairs, causing the death of her lover.

Michael Dawson- who is himself an estranged father who takes on his son only when his  ex-wife mysteriously dies of cancer.  He then alternately gets angry at his son for not taking to him immediately or being distant, and angry with himself for allowing his son to be taken away from him.  Both of these lead to disaster.

I could go on even more, but are you starting to see a pattern?  The only positive father portrayal that  I can think of on the show is Jin's father, who takes him in even though he's not sure that he's his.

So what lesson can be learned from this array of Bad dad's?  That neglect will cause misery in your child's life, unless they manage to avoid Oceanic Airways? That television is inherently more interesting when your dad is a villain or a monster?

I'm not sure, but I'd welcome your comments below.


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admin said...

So, found a great post from EW about Lost Dad's of Lost.,,1550612_20250233_20038982,00.html

Carlton Cuse's response was to the point: ''I don't think there is anything more powerful in film than father-son relationships, maybe even in literature, too.'' Now, I'm sure some of you might quibble, especially if you're some brainy college student writing a dissertation deconstructing patriarchal ideologies and perspectives to smithereens. (You know who you are.) But keep in mind that in some ways, Lost comes from a very personal place for the producers. Damon Lindelof elaborated: ''Ironically, I had a fairly awesome (if not slightly complicated) relationship with my father. I suppose the fact that he died shortly before we began writing Lost had a great impact on where my head was at [at] the time, but he was an amazing guy who is pretty much responsible for my love of all things storytelling-related. He never even TRIED to steal my kidney. That being said, I think, mythically speaking, all great heroes have massive daddy issues. Hercules. Oedipus. Luke Skywalker. Indiana Jones. Spider-Man. It all comes with the territory. We dig flawed characters on Lost, and a large part of being flawed is the emotional damage inflicted on you by your folks.''

And then Lindelof added: ''For the record, Mommies don't fare much better...we just haven't focused on 'em as much yet.''