Good Lordi

On far and distant parts of the internet, I occasionally post some comments to forums and other blogs. One place I try to regularly leave snide comments at is Butercup's blog. A couple of weeks ago she made a post having a go at Lost, and I piped up sort of defending the show. As the show approaches it's season finale this week, I've had a change of heart, and I now think I actually agree with Di.

Over the past couple of days, I've been pondering why it is that I somewhat obsessively watch Lost. It's not particularly well written, the actors are largely average, and I struggle to care about any of the characters on the show (with the possible exception of Charlie, but that's because he's a hobbit). Even with all these marks against the show, I invariably watch it for the mystery aspect. On an intellectual level, I'm interested to see if I can guess what's happening before it is officially revealed. And it's a big puzzle, with clues peppered not only throughout the show, but also in the alternate reality game that's playing out on the internet. Following Lost is a game that a whole bunch of people seem happy to play, people who have a lot more free time than me.

The fatal flaw with this game is that you can't ever win it. The rules are all dictated by the producers of the show. They decide what to show you, which clues to weave into certain frames of the show, and when to end it. In the end you're beholden to the writers and their whims. This might not be a problem if there was a good chance that the true story would be somewhat satisfying to know. However, chances are that the end game in Lost will come through the action of some Deus ex machina, as hinted at by the religious undertone that this latest series has appropriated. They've written themselves into a corner, and I don't know how they're going to get out.

Therefore, after this series, I'm not going to try not to watch it. If the only attraction to the show is solving the puzzle, and you are destined to fail, I don't know how they expect people to keep on playing. This phenomenon isn't isolated, as Lost is just the latest in a string of TV series whose central claim to fame is that they are puzzles (Alias, X-Files etc). In fact, the worst offender is not a TV show, but the books of Dan Brown - in particular, The Da Vinci Code. Littered with puzzles and conundrums, the book/movie/video game provides a lot to think about (in volume only, as the puzzles are offensively simple, yet numerous), but lacks any real meaning. Its only real purpose is to convey the idea that maybe Jesus got married and had some kids. That's it. It then dresses itself up in puzzles, symbolism, metaphor and other high-brow techniques to make itself look smart, when all it's really doing is being obtuse.

That is, I think, my biggest problem with all these things. I have no problem with a good bit of symbolism. It can be used quite nicely when it's being used as a method to explain a complex idea, to get the message across in the best way. This doesn't happen in Da Vinci Code and kin. The books, tv series and films have all stopped saying anything. You throw an idea out there (a meme if you will), and then spend the rest of your time being obtuse and symbolic for the sake of being obtuse. It reminds me a lot of modern politics, where the language of politics (and business to an extent) is losing any meaning at all. There's no need to actually communicate, you just need to give the impression that you are communicating (like Colbert's Truthiness). It just feels dishonest, and I don't want to get that from the books I'm reading, or the shows I'm watching.

Lordi - Image by Associated Press

What is honest, is the Eurovision song contest. Technically a song contest held between TV broadcasters in Europe, it holds no pretences of being anything but a cronyistic back-slapping scheme where the actual songs come a distant second to voting against a country that you just simply don't like. Technical merit and singing talent usually don't even get thought about when voting takes place. Everyone knows the Scandinavians are always going to vote for each other, the Balkan countries too, and no-one for the French, Germans and Brits. The whole competition is unabashedly rigged, and as a follower, I appreciate that. They're not fooling anyone when it pretends to be a real competition.

My favourite act from this year was Lordi, from Finland. They took the idea that Wig Wam had last year, and took it to a whole new level. I wasn't really expecting them to win - some sappy love song always wins. When Lordi did actually win, I was pleasantly surprised. It's sort of proof positive that if you can't beat the system, just be sublimely ridiculous. The best moment in the broadcast was when Lordi were on stage celebrating their win, and the demon hell-spawn pseudo-satanist guitarist holds the trophy above his head, with his battle-axe guitar and a beautiful bunch of flowers in the other. That, ladies and gentlemen, is what Eurovision is all about.


butercup *

aha! I knew I would convert you to the dark side. Well actually I'm more certain it's the side of goodness and light, especially where it comes to Lost.

Veronica Mars, though - has its puzzles, a rollicking good detective tale, and no Deus ex Machina to spoil the works. Go get it! :)

As for Eurovision - it was screened at the same time as Brant and Todd's AllStar Media Circus and the life story of Agatha Christie. I'll leave it up to you to guess what was showing in the SexyFerret household.

btw - this post made me laugh out loud, you rock.

Anonymous *

Friends of Eurovision: only one word can summarize the magic evening
Athens gave us: Amazing!

Even though the opening ceremony (for which Greece clearly had too much
time to prepare for) left me with a minor migraine, our amazing hosts
Maria and Sakis (who did remind me of a young Don Johnson) quickly
helped me channel my pain into the first contestants: Switzerland!

What followed were the 3 longest hours of my life. Amazingly, some of
the entries, notably Romania, could actually sing, the rest had to rely
on onstage antics to distract us from the music (the Ukrainian backup
singers were skipping rope in the background!). And will we ever forget
Spain's Las Ketchup slowly drift off key?

But truly amazing was that Finland's 'Lordi' (left over extras from the
Lord of the Ring trilogy) won by a huge margin! This momentous win
pulled the Eurovision out of Eastern Europe, where it had resided for
the last few years, thanks to block voting.

Russia came second, followed by Bosnia, who only narrowly escaped
disqualification for the use of a piano accordion. Lucky last: Malta!

Just a few words on Eurovision fashion: white is clearly the new black!
Countless were the entries that appeared in white and where was the
fashion police when Greece and Sweden came on stage

Hiren Joshi *

Anonymous, I don't know who you are, but I wish to extend an offer to marry you. Even if you're a guy. Great review.

What the hell, while I'm at it I'd marry you too Di if you weren't already married. In fact, if anyone needs to get married, just leave a comment, and my people will get in touch with you.

How could I forget about Malta though - poor underappreciated Malta. Will they ever be cut a break? Let's hope not.

Lithuania, I think it takes a little more than just repeating your desire to win to actually win. To the country which has adopted me for the moment, excellent effort - even though you had to fly in a Newcastle lass to lead your entry.

Also, I feel I should make mention of the Matrix movies as perpetual practicioners of pseudo-intellectual prattling psycho-babble. I forgot how strong the Footos* runs in the Wachowski brothers.

* That's a joke for anyone who had the misfortune of either being my older brother, or going to school with me.

Bhautik Joshi *

*snorts milk through nose* rofl ;)
that picture with the flowers is forever burned into my memory.. long live death metal - er - or whatever it was. And yes, the footos is strong with you.

Anonymous *

Are you sure you want marry me!!!!!!!
this is the one and only anonymous you know.
love you too.

Hiren Joshi *

*shifts uncomfortably*

I don't believe a) that you watched Eurovision, and b) that you wrote that - it's just not your style.

Anonymous *

I sure that one day your own kid will reply to your comment and that day you will remember me. This is not the first time I have caught you by surprise!!!

All the kids out there, please remember that your parent deserve the credit when it is due, they can be just as cleaver as you!!!!!! .....and may be more with the wisdom added to the cocktail.

Anonymous *

Hiren, while packing last Thursday for my vacation in Canada I saw the Eurovision prelims and thought Lordi were the best ones, I can't imagine why Fins wanted them banned...

butercup *

I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU JUST PROPOSED TO ME .... after you proposed to your mother. What's wrong with the world?!


p.s. where are your world cup posts? Eh? Eh? Australia beats Liechtenstein in a "frennly" game? Eh? Eh?

Hiren Joshi *

It's coming! I had a go at writing it up last night, but got lured out to see Inside Man instead, which is a bit like The Usual Suspects, except without Kevin Spacey - and that is a tragedy.

Yes - I was going a bit marriage crazy. What can I say, it's wedding season.

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