No More Cloak: Why Lost Is My Favorite Show Evar
As a follow-up to my recent post about the Cloak of Goodness, I wanted to point to an excellent example of a piece of pop culture that challenges the notion of the Cloak.
From its very beginning, the television show Lost has been prompting questions about what, exactly, makes a person “good.” Because Lost is set on a deserted island with its own rules and culture, the show opens up a space in which our everyday notions of “good” and “bad” are put to the test. Characters are constantly made aware that somewhere on the island is an important list, one of “good” and “bad” people (See especially the scenes between Anna Lucia and Goodwin early in Ssn 2). But the source of these definitions of good and bad is kept hidden. Meanwhile, off-island (patriarchal) definitions of right and wrong do not apply; people who would have been coded as “bad” off the island are given “clean slates,” (like Kate, Charlie, Sawyer) while those who would be coded as “good” (Jack, Richard Alpert) cause their fair share of trouble. Lost allows us to view our own dependency on the Hero/Villain structure from the outside by placing us in a world in which it is entirely unclear who is right and who is wrong – or who even gets to decide the definitions of those words.
Now, in its final season, Lost is advertising a war between two great powers. And all over the blogs and podcasts, people are anxious to choose sides. We want to know who to root for, who is in the right and who is in the wrong. And I am certain that the answer will be more complex than a simple division into light and dark. Lost has removed the Cloak of Goodness from its characters by changing the rules, by placing them in a setting outside the structure of everyday society. And in doing so, it allows us to question our own notions of Right and Wrong – and to ask ourselves where we got our definitions in the first place.