A lot of our fiction hasn't caught up to this reality: the few new television shows and movies that have been released tend to exist in the past or in some alternative reality where there is no coronavirus. There are exceptions, such as NBC series Superstore or the horror movie Host, though this sensitive topic hits so close to home that how it's handled in media can be hit or miss.
Yet sometimes, this denial of reality can be just what we need. Some marketing firms release commercials and advertisements that aren't really about the product come across more as short films. Apple's Frankenstein ad, now four years old, is a good example:
But for media created in a time of pandemic, I find myself watching and rewatching this season's "Take Care of Yourself":
There is so much emotion captured in these wordless two minutes. The glory of days gone: The frustration of lost agency — something my own father struggled with. The self-consciousness of trying and failing in public. The inspiration of the next generation. The self-sacrifice to do something for someone else. And choosing to live in the present, not the past.
I myself am missing my family this holiday. As a digital nomad, I was on the road in 2019, too — but at least then I found distant family to celebrate Christmas with. This year, I've been welcomed into the home of a family that is not my own. It still leaves me wistful for simpler times when everyone could be together.
By depicting an unrestricted family gathering, this commercial plants itself firmly not in the reality of 2020. Yet for some reason, it's something that I needed. Maybe it's because I have neither grandparents nor children, making its abstract lesson more noticeable than the setting or context. Or maybe it's the inspiration that if we work hard enough, we as a society can endure and accomplish anything — including surviving this pandemic.
Whatever comes after the pandemic won't be a return to "normalcy" as we've known it. But this Christmas isn't cancelled any more than last year's was or next year's is. Each year will be different, and if we can find the strength and motivation to adapt, then that itself is something to celebrate.