George R.R. Martin Vs. Damon Lindelof – Really?

No less than literary icon George R. R. Martin has reignited the debate over LOST’s controversial ending. Martin made the comment that when it comes to ending his Game of Thrones series he doesn’t want to, quote, “do a LOST.” Ouch. LOST co-creator Damon Lindelof responded with a volley of strikes from his Twitter account that did everything from insulting the length between volumes in the Game of Thrones series, to ridiculing the oddly lavender design of Martin’s less than cutting edge website. Declaring the situation a ‘feud’ Lindelof took exception to the idea of LOST’s ending becoming the symbol for all things f’d up.

The initial burst of tweets were obviously from the heart, but when Lindelof was approached by EW to discuss the matter further his media training kicked in, and it wasn’t long before the LOST show-runner was lavishing Martin with praise, and offering a more cool-headed perspective on his earlier blowup. “When he uses phrases like ‘[messing] up the ending’ or ‘I felt like someone dropped a turd on my doorstep,’ you know: Look, ‘Lost’ is my baby, and you don’t put baby in a corner. I feel duty-bound, just for my own sense of integrity, to respond publicly.”

Without judging the man, it is obvious that Damon Lindelof is the kind of guy who is very reactive – perhaps to his own peril. Many creators handle public criticism in a very pragmatic way: it’s a guarantee that some people will hate your work. If you are a writer, painter, musician, or even a blogger, preparing to show your work for public consumption you must be at peace with the idea that there are going to be people who will love it, like it, tolerate it grudgingly, or absolutely loathe it.

George Lucas is perhaps the best example of a heartfelt creator who gets it right. Long before Lucas was nearly crucified for Jar Jar Binks, Star Wars fans were prepared to lynch him for ‘muppeting-up’ Return of the Jedi. His commercial and creative decisions have made Lucas a divisive figure in the immense franchise he, himself, created. For all of this, though, Lucas exhibits a zen-like perspective of his critics. After Jon Stewart skewered Lucas on air about several plot-holes in the Star Wars series in a 2010 interview, the talk show host specifically addressed the love-hate relationship he endures amongst fans, to which the director answered, calmly, “life is duality.” Pressing Lucas further, Stewart asked Lucas if he felt he needed to answer his critics. Lucas replied “It’s a work of fiction, it’s a metaphor, it’s not real, and therefore you can either like it, or not like it. Whatever.”

BIG FAT CORRECTION

In an earlier version of this, I used a quote from the LA Times Blog that referenced Lindelof as saying that he and Carlton felt the finale of LOST was empirically brilliant – a statement I figured was a bit too self assured. As it turns out, the quote came from EW and was not used in the proper context at the LA Times. Damon was referring to his reaction to The Sapranos finale and how both he and Carlton thought IT was brilliant, and were worried after the fandom responded negatively. LA Times, and myself, both attributed those statements to Damon’s opinion on the LOST finale. This is NOT correct. SORRY! Your turn, LA Times.

  • Chris

    The ending that Lindelof called "empirically brilliant" was the final episode of The Sopranos, not Lost. 

    • http://www.tvovermind.com Jon Lachonis

      I'm not sure Lindelof's thought process is healthy.  Yes, you should feel satisfied about what you do… but to feel so strongly that you've done something brilliant?  That is always decided on the front-end of the creative process, after it has left your hands.  Such a long ways from the doubt that preceded the release of the pilot.  They were certain that they would be cancelled before the pilot aired, maybe they could have used some of that doubt during season 6.

  • d.a. garabedian

    Chris is right. Lindelof did not refer to his own ending as brilliant; he specifically made the statement about The Sopranos as a metaphor for his point. Should probably revise that instead of making him look like a total douche.

    • http://www.tvovermind.com Jon Lachonis

      Yipes!  For sure!

  • Clay

    Doc, I'm shocked. We (the Lost fandom) all know that Mr. Lindelof needs to chill out, but this feud was really compounded by the fact that Marting spouted off about a show that he clearly wasn't paying attention to in the first place. 

    "I was pretty upset…it was about the second episode of Lost, I said, 'Oh, they're all dead.' They're all dead. That's what it would be in a half-hour Rod Sterling Twilight Zone, in 1958. And they took what? How many seasons to get to the point where they were all dead?"

    I mean, I love slamming the final season and the finale for a myriad of reasons but you can't call LOST a flaming bag of crap because you "knew they were dead all along." That's just lazy and it makes me a little worried about his last two books that are forthcoming.

    • Jon Lachonis

      Hey Clay.  I think we're talking apples and oranges really, give me a sec to explain.  First: Yes, Martin got it wrong – but not too wrong.  I know diehard fans who still believe the ending indicated they were dead all along and that the explanation of the deserted crash scene footage being ABC's doing was a rouse by Damon and Carlton to try to turn the heat down in the fan community.  I don't believe that personally, but I was disappointed that "they were dead all along" was used to explain even a small aspect of the story.  Looking at the big picture though, I understood where people

      As you said, there are various reasons to like or dislike the finale, Martin certainly is not as much of a LOST fan as you or I, but I think his general commentary was inspired by the vocal disappointment that many legitimate fans expressed after the finale aired.  So, my point is  you are not wrong at all… Martin has no business debating the ending if he really don't know what was going on, but at the same time the energy that inspired him to use LOST as an example of an ending that polarized fans did come from the fandom – that said, Damon Lindelof is very successful, making a ton of money in very challenging times, and is really in a position – like Lucas – to laugh all the way to the bank … so to speak.  Frankly, I think it was a little petty of him to go off like he did.

      • Clay

        I agree with you that Martin has some valid points as does everyone who  was disappointed with the finale. But it's like hearing nails on a chalkboard whenever the "I knew they were all dead," argument is brought up. As I said, be pissed at Darlton for dropping some many threads that it was hard to keep track. 

        After letting it marinade for almost a year I'm still of the mind that the "sideways" story was indeed an unnecessary cheat. It was a beautifully acted, directed and written epilogue that yanked on every emotional heartstring available… but it was still largely a diversion that kept the fandom guessing all the way to the end. Ideally I would have loved to see the ideas of course correction, choice and fate fully embraced with the "sideways" actually being created but essentially ripping the universe apart by its mere existence. It becomes a real choice for Jack in the end: Choose the temporary comfort of an ordinary and imaginary existence or embrace the painful but visceral place where you came from…

        I'm disappointed on many levels with the show but it surprised me in so many other ways. When the show was firing on all cylinders there was nothing like it and probably never will be again. It doesn't matter if the critique comes from a luminary like Martin or just a random fan, to completely dismiss the entire journey of the show because of a title card during the credits is insulting. 

        Lindelof is petty, but a fellow writer did basically compare his biggest achievement to a flaming bag of dog poop. I mean if Martin was a devoted fan (debatable) and was just generally venting frustration then I can respect where he's coming from. But to me his comments seemed overboard especially considering the context of his interviews. He's trying to tie a bow on his own opus, which is only going to have more eyeballs and scrutiny on it because of the TV adaptation. Maybe Martin is beyond all of that and has thicker skin, but to me this seems like part self-promotion and part smokescreen. "What's that you say? Why has it taken me 6 years to write this book? Well, unlike that bag of crap LOST I was trying to get it right." 

        • Jon Lachonis

          Yeah Martin was certainly talking out of turn, but Lindelof should have let his work and his fans speak for him.  Damon's defense always seems to be "well, I'm a fanboy at heart" but he's not a fanboy, he's a professional and he has a lot to be thankful for – this just makes him look like a diva.

          On the sideways, yeah – what a miscalculation.  The problem for me is that it was such a massive chunk of story it really seemed like a significant part of the stakes would dwell there – instead it became irrelevant to the overarching story.  I like that they elevated the connections between the characters to such spiritual import, but it almost seemed garish to do so when you had invested so much story energy in developing the characters to begin with.  We didn't need a 'church scene' to illustrate the connections that had formed between the characters, the larger adventure did that for us organically.  The problem with the finale is they came in with two agendas, resolve the characters and resolve the island, and they needlessly compartmentalized them.

  • Clay

    Sorry, "Martin" not Marting.

  • drush76

    Martin had made it clear that he had been a fan of "LOST" since the first season and was looking forward to the finale. Alas, the finale disappointed him and he made this clear. Instead of simply being calm and practical about Martin's criticism, Lindelof made an ass of himself. I find this ironic, considering that despite George Lucas' praise of "LOST" (which I believe was undeserved), Lindelof made a point of being rude and critical of the SW Prequel Trilogy. Lindelof had every right to criticize Lucas' work. But he also proved to be a petulant hypocrite, by reacting to Martin's criticism of his own work.

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