Apr 1, 2007

Stranger in a Strange Land--A sociopolitical analysis

A lot of people will think that the episode "Stranger in a Strange Land" downright bad. Not I, I think this episode will be a very pivotal episode that will change how we think of the Others, the LOSTies, and maybe our lives in general.

This episode made me start thinking that maybe I am not watching the show with the right attitude. I think that LOST also touches upon social commentaries about us and the world around us.

Throughout the two completed seasons and now, as the third season unfolds, I always got the idea that the show has some religious-based message, some sci-fi undertones, and something else. I couldn’t put my finger on the something else. The "Stranger in a Strange Land" episode just clenched it for me.

Of course, as any theory that anybody develops about LOST, mine may be shot down to oblivion once the next episode comes along. However, I think I will get to keep this theory for a while, as it has been lurking in my thoughts for a while now.

In the scene whereupon Sawyer and Kate ask Karl about the kidnappings, Karl reveals that the children are taken and given a better life than the LOSTies have. I got the impression that Karl was very condescending, and the my-life-is-better-than-your-life attitude was very prevalent. I got the same impression from Goodwin when, in he beginning of Season 2, he told Ana Lucia that the kidnapped children are in a better place now. We may think, while watching, that perhaps the children were taken off to a place with plumbing, food supply, medical attention, etc. Hence, they are better off. Not I, I took the message to mean something very demeaning, and I thought I was just being supersensitive.

Then I heard Godwin and Henry say that they are the "Good Guys." The two statements “better off” and “Good Guys” got me thinking. And the condescending remark coming from someone who has been beaten by his own people (Karl), clinched it for me. We should view LOST as a political commentary as well.

Don’t all countries have the attitude "We are better than others"? For example, let us look at our own backyard: Doesn't our government's administration attack other countries and “encourage” them to be a democratic society? Aren't we always positive about democracy being a better form of government? Don’t we consider ourselves to be the good guys, while we are bombing and killing people overseas? Don’t we find it hard to believe that anyone would consider us the enemies? Aren’t we arrogant enough to go to other countries, fiddle with their economy, and then cry out that they are the enemy when they rebel against us?

I know that what I am saying is not going to be taken very well, but I think that LOST is telling us something: In one of the beginning scenes, Jack is being moved from the aquarium to give room to Juliet, but he thinks he is being moved to be killed. Tom says, "What kind of people do you think we are, Jack?" To this, Jack replies, "I don't know, Tom. What kind of people would take a pregnant woman; hang Charlie from a tree; would drag our people out of the jungle; who'd kidnap our children? That's the kind of people I think you are." Tom walks over to the glass of the aquarium, taps it, and says, "You see this glass house you are living in Jack? How about I get you some stones?" So which side is guilty? Who is the bad guy? Who is the good guy?

Now, don’t get me wrong. There’s more to LOST than this social commentary. But I think that we should really look into the show’s deeper sociopolitico meaning.

All in all, I did like this show. It was not as spectacular as "Flashes before Your Eyes." But "Stranger in a Strange Land" did not give me the headaches I felt with "Flashes before Your Eyes." It did give me lots of things to think about. It satisfied my curiosity about the Others and how they live, their government. I got to see Ben (a character that I just adore). What more can I ask for?
Next week, we will see "Tricia Tanaka Is Dead," which is Hurleycentric and, chances are, will be a humorous episode.

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