Myth In Movies: “2012”—Hollywood Predicts The World Will Be Destroyed By Special Effects


2012_movie_poster_teaserIt was inevitable that this day would come. With the growing knowledge about the Mayan calendar end date of December 21, 2012, it was just a matter of time before Hollywood seized the opportunity to show its version of what the end date could mean. Since worldwide spiritual enlightenment, a slow transition from a patriarchal to matriarchal society, or nearly imperceptible earth-changes are admittedly not the stuff of blockbusters, Hollywood logically opted for a disaster flick. And not just any disaster flick, but a disaster flicks’ greatest hits.

The 2012 experience is pretty much like a roller coaster ride. It begins with a long line outside the theater. Then, you are secured into your seat where you must keep your hands on your half of the armrest at all times. Once the movie begins, you begin your slow ascent. On the way up, the story’s slow pace builds anticipation of the coming frenzy; feeding audiences with frightening scenarios involving peaks in solar flare activity, planetary alignments, crust shifts, and super volcanoes. As prisoners in our seats, forbidden from using iPhones, we are helpless from learning the truth behind these scary statistics and are forced to accept them all as facts. Terrifying.

The film continues its slow climb, click-clacking higher and higher until at last, about thirty minutes into the film, we crest at the summit, fully aware of how high we’ve ascended, and grip onto our armrests in gut-wrenching anticipation of the wild ride ahead. Instead, there’s an eerie silence, almost as though we are being given some time to digest the many ways earth’s selfish inhabitants are finally gonna get what’s coming to them! Knowing we are well aware of the inevitable drop, the filmmakers then psych us out just as some roller coasters do: with a couple of teasing, tiny dips. There’s a tremor here, a pavement crack there. As with the coasters, this enables the big drop of the film to catch us a bit more off-guard.

2012 http://teaser-trailer.comSuddenly, it happens! We are careening full-speed through a cornucopia of falling freeways, collapsing skyscrapers and exploding pavements. First we are in a car, then a small airplane, then that airplane lands but takes off again, then we’re in a huge jet airplane, then a ship, then another ship! Up and down we roll, speeding through a collection of just about every disaster film ever made: Earthquake, The Towering Inferno, The Poseidon Adventure, Deep Impact, The Day After Tomorrow, Dante’s Peak, Volcano, Airport, Airport 1975, hell, even Airplane!. In fact, you could probably create every single scene of 2012 using just a couple dozen disaster and sci-fi films, and I expect someone is already working on it so they can get their fifteen minutes of YouTube fame. (Should it be you, I recommend using the remake of War of the Worlds for the collapsing freeway scene and Knowing or Sunshine for the solar flares.)

So, how much of this 2012 stuff is fact, and how much is Hollywood? Getting back to the possible scenarios, we begin with the film’s claim that in 2012, our sun’s solar flare activity will reach a peak in activity. Well, according to a recent History Channel special I saw, this is indeed true. But this solar flare activity is cyclical—the sun reaches its peak every eleven years, and having survived through the last peak way back in 2001, I think it’s a pretty safe bet that this one in and of itself will not do us in. But there’s the rub—it’s not just the solar flares that will be going on in 2012. According to the movie, Woody Harrelson’s character informs us that there will also be a planetary alignment. I heard myself groan during the film when this was mentioned. No, the planets will not be lining up on December 21st, 2012, nor anytime soon to my knowledge. However, the alignment that will be happening is the position of the sun (as seen from the Earth) and the center of our galaxy. This intersection was affectionately referred to as the “Sacred Tree” by the Maya. Note the usage of the term “sacred” as opposed to say “abominable,” “catastrophic,” or “man-eating.” So, it would seem that this alignment was considered a good thing by the Mayan. Admittedly, the complete annihilation of humanity could’ve been seen by the Maya as a positive occurrence as physical man would finally be passing into the spiritual world, but I’ll just ignore that point for now.

What I probably shouldn’t ignore though, is that according to astronomers, lurking at the center of our galaxy there is a massive black hole. I suppose that the gravitational pull of this black hole could theoretically bring about an increase in the sun’s already peaking solar flare activity as it passes into the black hole’s crosshairs. Thing is, the sun has actually been traipsing within this crosshair region during our Winter Solstice for years now. Had the solar flare activity been getting worse and worse every year, then I think there would be a pretty big argument that there could be something to this. To my knowledge however, the solar flare activity has not significantly increased beyond what astronomers would normally expect as it heads towards its eleven-year cyclical peak.

untitledBut what about the shifting of the earth’s crust? While I’m no geologist, and the mandatory requirement for earth science in my school began the year after I had opted not to take it, I believe that massive crust shifting tends not to happen within 24-hour periods (In the film, Wisconsin ends up in the South Pole by the end of the day.) That doesn’t mean that it couldn’t however, or that slower shifts wouldn’t be devastating, just that we probably would be given a bit more of a heads up than the movie seems to imply, something probably akin to a few thousand year heads up. Hmmm, actually, now I’m curious. Instead of being lazy and waiting for a commenter to correct my flawed presumption, I decided to scan the Internet myself and found that it is indeed theoretically possible for the earth crust to slip in a day. Luckily, the point of this article isn’t to disprove the possibility of the various calamities of the film, but that…well, you’ll see.

Finally, there’s the supervolcano eruption possibility. I personally found this to be the most ridiculous aspect of the film, but not because it couldn’t happen. In fact, there actually is<%2

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The Layman posted at 2009-11-16 Category: Myth In Movies

2 Responses Leave a comment

  1. #1Garrett Scozzari @ 2009-12-29 04:56

    Couldn’t have done it any better meself. Thumbs up for this post. Bookmarking this on StumbleUpon now.

  2. #2The Layman @ 2010-1-1 23:00

    Cool, glad you liked it.