The Coming Attractions That Never Come

Hollywood and television have mastered the coming-attraction gig. Their screens explode in color and volume as they assault our senses with extraordinary images of extraordinary people, plots and products.

As for the people….the screens feature everyone from Tom Cruise scaling tall buildings to Mitt Romney drinking small town coffee to Law & Order cops swooping in for the arrest in helicopters. The folks who shoot these coming attractions are cinematic masters at editing say 90 minutes of raw footage down to the precise 30 seconds they want you to see.. I mean, when’s the last time you actually saw anyone rappelling the Sears Tower, any pol once elected coming back to your corner cafe, or any actual police helicopters dropping off so many beautiful cops?

As for the plots…Hollywood remains the master magician with their coming attractions bursting in theatres in digitalized promises of: Greatest, grandest, glorious, gratifying. Promises that afterwards simply don’t fit the 120 minutes you just drowsed through.

As for the products…well, I ask you, how many of those advertised cars you bought actually swept you up rugged canyon trails, roaring across steaming deserts, or screeching up to Vegas hotels to be greeted by gasping models staring at your strut?

By and large we all live lives of quiet desperation. And so it is that coming attractions — that promise us some of the power and glamor we gave up expecting after selling our last comic book collection — can act like the promised Balm in Gilead. Somehow, somewhere, something out there offers us something better. Just when we needed it!

Most of these coming attractions are not so much mirages. More likely they are mirrors. Mirrors held up to our deepest desires and highest hopes in an otherwise modest existence. The glass is so polished, the images so glittering, we find it hard not to respond. The thing we have to remember is that all that glitters is not gold, all the desires that beckon in our lives are not necessarily desirable.

The optimists have the right to tell us that life is a fat piece of juicy fruit just waiting to be bitten. The pessimists have the right to quote pessimists like Bertolt Brecht: “He who laughs has not yet heard the terrible news.” And you and I…? We have right to choose.

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