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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Lost Fans Vs. Star Wars Fans

The news about Lost’s final season is trickling in slowly and at this point there really isn’t a lot to say that hasn’t already been said. To be perfectly honest even the most enthusiastic Lost fans don’t want the critical plot twists and surprises spoiled (no matter how many times they yell, “how does Lost end?”). Part of the delight of an epic show like this one is that as difficult as the anticipation can be to deal with most of us will miss it when it’s gone. To put it another way, the journey is a large part of the experience and it’s not just about the final destination.

To fill the void of actual Lost news of any substance we thought we’d take this opportunity to ponder a somewhat silly question by comparing a couple of the most intense fan groups ever to take over the now world famous annual Comic Convention (Comic-Con) in San Diego. Comic-Con was founded in 1970 and like most major conventions started out small before gaining momentum and reaching the 125,000+ attendance records that it has been shattering in recent years.

As the comic industry has grown from a few geeks in their parent’s basement (our apologizes if any are reading this) to a multi-billion dollar industry (in April of 2009 Disney bought Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion) stock piled with mega blockbuster movies the Comic-Con crowd has grown increasingly mainstream and corporate while still keeping it’s roots in the geeks and dweebs (coming from us those are terms of endearment) that started the whole thing (see referenced image below).

All kidding aside Comic-Con has expanded on a grand scale and has in effect doubled its consumer base by appealing to women of all ages with features of female favorites like Twilight and True Blood.

The Lost fans have a unique dynamic that is truly shaped by the age that we live in. Without DVR (or TiVo if you’re still using that), past seasons of Lost on DVD, and internet message boards to bounce ideas off of one another the Lost franchise would have never been able to amass the kind of grassroots following that it has built.

Can you imagine a television series as complex as Lost thriving or even surviving if it had come out during the time of the initial Star Wars release (1977)? Even the prequel Star Wars trilogy that began with Episode 1 first came out in 1999, still too early to take advantage of the rapid technological advances that have helped make Lost an epic hit for the ages.

Diehard Star Wars fans have their quirks but who amongst us doesn’t? Of course there are Star Wars action figures, comic books, and Star Wars Lego sets, but those items are no different than mainstream accessories that accompany what are now considered to be conventional films. There are Spider Man Halloween costumes, Batman posters, and pundits that argue that Robert Downey Jr. should have been nominated for an Oscar for his role as Iron Man.

In good consciousness we can not say that the fans of any of the aforementioned franchises spend more time analyzing the ins and outs of their favorite entertainment source than Lost fans do. Lost fans may be a little snooty and secretly (or openly) consider their infatuation to be more cerebral but the truth of the matter is that we’re all just looking to be entertained and the bottom line is that special effects and plot twists aside, the true mark of a longstanding successful franchise is targeted character development. Always has been and always will be.

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