You can picture the scene. You’ve spent a fortune on the ticket. Probably enough to buy livestock or fly Aer Lingus. You’re wrenching your feet from the stickiest floor imaginable. The scent arising from the bucket of popcorn is sending you straight to your local XtraVision on a Friday night in ’09. The substance on top is so oil rich that it’s currently attracting the CIA’s interest. Maybe you’re indulging in a glamorous lifestyle fuelled by the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP). If so, you may find yourself taking a trip to the Stella Cinema: an excursion so indulgent, you feel like Caligula, if he studied PPES and lived in Ranelagh.
The lights are falling and your spirits rising. You’ve survived a year of sitting in your darkened bedroom, consuming information from a little screen and avoiding your responsibilities. Now you’ve been released to the outside world again, and found you can explore, see people, and run amok. The possibilities are unlimited, and you can rediscover everything you missed so dearly. Perhaps wisely, you’ve elected to sit in a slightly larger, slightly darker room with a much bigger screen instead.
There I was. Sinking in my seat in eager anticipation for my personal highlight of the cinema experience. You see, I have an utterly fanatical and borderline Don Draper-ish love for ads. Frequently I throw all left-wing instincts aside and bask in the glow of a corporation selling me the idea of how cool I would be if I drove a Skoda or how irresistible men would find me on the basis of my deodorant. Prostrating before IMAX and surround sound, I’m seeking pure, hedonistic advertisement escapism, and microdoses of cinematic thrill.
Frankly I’m expecting several things. I’ve walked in with a Sprite the size of a healthy toddler, fully prepared to be lambasted with an ad for a superhero flick of Spielbergian proportions. I must bear enthusiastic witness to cars flipping, bridges collapsing, and three witty quips uttered by muscle bound individuals with inhumanly perfect teeth.
Instead of being struck by booming audio and cinematic scintillation, an unreasonably sunny voice is telling me about the latest great deals at SuperValu
This sensory tsunami would ideally be followed by an ad for a tear-jerking piece of Oscar bait – a piece of cinema I will vow not to miss but will inevitably forget about once I find a slightly left-of-centre foreign film to recommend while smoking outside the Berkeley in September (“no but lads ye actually have to see Amélie, I doubt you’ve even heard of it like”).
Almost horizontal in my seat, trembling with anticipation at my first film post-pandemic – a Cumberbatch-led gulag buddy comedy, no less – the trailers begin to roll. Like a child on their first holy communion being told the bouncy castle is off limits for fear they may crease their suit, so my beloved pieces of Hollywood minutiae are snatched from my enthusiastic reach.
Instead of being struck by booming audio and cinematic scintillation, an unreasonably sunny voice is telling me about the latest great deals at SuperValu. All opportunities for escapism fall by the wayside as I am immediately reminded of the fact that my housemates have finished off the milk and the spinach in my fridge has inevitably wilted. The mundanities and little inconveniences from which I had fled are suddenly resounding through my mind. How did we come to this point of supermarket over substance?
Aghast and disappointed, my delicate female brain now understands the fractured psyches of men seeing their beloved football teams struck down by opponents – given the fact that the administration at my local Omniplex have seemingly waged such a personal attack on my humble senses. In nervous anticipation for what comes next, and with futile hopes that the sight of Kiera Knightley looking windswept and weepy in an upcoming period piece will revive my cinema-going spirits, I await the next advertisement.
A group of people who wouldn’t be out of place in Front Square stroll on screen. But, wait: that is Front Square. Sweet Jesus let my eyes deceive me: this is an ad for Trinity
A group of people who wouldn’t be out of place in Front Square stroll on screen. But, wait: that is Front Square. The campanile flashes before me. Sweet Jesus let my eyes deceive me: this is an ad for Trinity. Neoliberal silver fox extraordinaire Patrick Prendergast turns on the charm for the camera and encourages me to “think STEM”. My brain – hardwired after three years of studying English – struggles to count syllables in a line of poetry. Scarred irredeemably by a woebegone attempt at leaving certificate physics, I can no more “think STEM” than a Jack Russell terrier can perform a Foxtrot. Far from immersing myself in the highly anticipated mystery, thrill and romance, I am thrust into a world of deadlines, administrative difficulties and lecturers having technical difficulties.
Though I have a great fondness for both the cinema and existing in a university environment, synthesising my passions amounted to nothing. Staggering out in a post-cinema daze two hours later, the reality became apparent. Like a middle aged man proposing a swinger’s retreat and ending up at a dinner party, my modest appeal being misinterpreted left me riddled with despair, apathy and nihilism. The absence of the subtle magic of the trailers left me adrift in the numerous woes of a middle class white woman who resides in a first world country. One star out of five – would not recommend it to a friend.