There’s a term used in certain writing circles called the Alluring Future, which is a tool the author employs to keep their audience coming back for more by assuring them that everything is going to turn out alright in the end. It’s the carrot on the end of the stick that keeps the people at home or in the theater engaged throughout the length of whatever story you care to tell. This device has been used in countless tales to great success in every conceivable story type and genre. Whether it be a pair of seemingly destined lovers, like Ross and Rachel, or the summation of an epic quest, like Frodo and Sam, the alluring future is what keeps reinforcing the audience’s hope that they will be rewarded for their emotional investment.
I think it safe to say we’ve all seen or read something that leaves us unsatisfied because the alluring future we were promised didn’t come to fruition. The shock that a writer could lie to us about something as sacred as the patented Hollywood Happy Ending is unbelievable. How dare (insert writer/director/author here) not give me the outcome I desired!? There’s somewhat of a social stigma to such occurrences. I mean please show me one person who liked the ending to Matrix Revolutions. (Seriously three films only to come out in a tie with the robot overlords???) This kind of unsatisfying third act has sunk many a potentially great film and proves that the Bobby Womack quote, “Always leave them wanting more…” does not always apply when it comes to storytelling.
This being said the concept of an alluring future is not only confined to the realm of cinema. This tactic is used daily by those in power in this, and every other, nation or culture on Earth. The alluring future offered up by politicians, clergymen, and self-help gurus is a time-honored tradition that stretches back far beyond the reach of human memory. Human beings have always used this tactic as a way to further their own agenda. Simply tell the people what they want to hear, let them know that either through their votes or their prayers or their campaign contributions they too can have everything their little hearts have ever desired.
I’m here to call bullshit on that.
Americans have been voting against their own best interests since the inception of this country. The poor residents of those nascent states have been voting into power a never-ending line of power hungry liars and thieves since the first ballot was cast. This ceaseless parade of self-interested charlatans, one Long after Tweed after Blagojevich after another, all have one thing in common. One common thread that without fail ensures their meteoric rise to the top of the trough.
The promise of an alluring future.
Herbert Hoover famously proclaimed that a Hoover presidency would mean, “A chicken in every pot and a car in every garage.” How could you not support a future as alluring as that? Who doesn’t like chicken after all? But instead of full pots and Fords in the garage, most Americans under Hoover were likely to go to bed hungry and live in those same cars. That or in one of the thousands of sprawling tent cities across the country, or Hoovervilles as they would come to be called.
Our society finds itself somewhat numb to the deluge of campaign promises that come pouring out of a candidate’s mouths. From Nixon’s “secret plan” to end the war in Vietnam to H.W. Bush’s “No new taxes.” line, candidates have lied to their prospective constituency for so long and so often that you would have to be more than a bit naive to take their promises at face value. I mean who actually believes these people?
Apparently quite a lot of you.
Just look at the recent election, a textbook example of voters being swayed by an alluring future of epic proportions. Tens of millions of Americans voted for a man not only devoid of the slightest shred of human decency -to say nothing of his total lack governmental experience- but one who actively campaigned on bigotry, xenophobia, and isolationism. Are we then expected to believe that everyone who voted for this racist buffoon is themselves a bigot, homophobe, or idiot? Although there were a fair number of voters who did and continue to fall under one or all of these categories, I would have to say that the majority of them were simply sick of being lied to by entrenched politicians.
This yearning for an alluring future, not only for themselves but for their children, is what spurred these coal miners, mechanics, fabricators, and every other manner of skilled laborers across the nation to overlook 45’s racism and misogyny and focus instead on that alluring future where their lost jobs would magically return from overseas, and from the mechanised assembly lines of their former employers, and from the inevitable and necessary transition to renewable energies. This dream of a working man’s utopia promised constantly in one ill-spoken speech or barely legible tweet after another has turned out to be less of a dream and more of a mirage; evaporating faster each scandal-riddled day.
We’ve watched 45 scrap basic programs that support millions of underprivileged people and push through a so-called healthcare bill that would see over twenty million more lose their access to care and send the deductibles of the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions through the roof. Meanwhile, he has alienated nearly all of our key NATO allies while cozying up with a Murderer’s Row of dictators and human rights violators from the Middle East, Asia, and Russia. Not to mention the thousands of families he’s ripped apart by way of deportation. Or those minority victims of sexual assault and domestic abuse who are now too afraid of ICE to ever report these crimes. America, once a shining city upon the hill, has become the laughing stock of Western Democracy.
I ask you, is this the alluring future you were promised?