Monday, March 29, 2010

Gloom fest'2012' feeds off energy of jittery audience

To believe in the apocalypse, or to not believe in the apocalypse in 2012? This is now no longer the question due to the mind’s eye of film director Roland Emmerich, director of the mega-blockbuster DVD, "2012."

By all grim appearances in accordance with his work, 2012, that big blowout year in the Mayan calendar is a vivid and foregone conclusion.

Does that make him a prophet, a film visionary, or, a salesman? Movies are made to please pre-existing markets, especially on the mega-scale of this seamless, somewhat revealing examination of what life might be like as the deal goes down. The film is a real chance to schadenfreud oneself into a tizzy with an eye-full of god-wrath, as we watch each character, each necessary human figure in the film, get fried, flooded or simply shaken right out of the big script of life. Except for the lucky ones (Oh yeah, have faith!) Fairly much preaching to the choir then, is 2012, a tasty treat believers rapt in the eye candy of no more future … no more, well, everything …

Certainly fun to think about. And a terrible beauty to watch, 2012 is, yes it is …

However, with daily television news broadcasts confirming the collective psychology that the end is near, rendering such imaginative works less fun to think about, the popular attitude that the sky is falling, one can only go back 1,000 years to find a culture whose sense of doom was so widespread.

In their respective millennia, the creators of great apocalyptic works of art were sparked by minds overwhelmed with turmoil. So it is with 2012, the film, which provides the imagination with more than it can handle, an everything in one box disaster film for our times.

Frederico Fellini’s 8½ had a moment when the jaded director portrayed in the film declared that all he was trying to do was fulfill his vision of a film where “everything happens.”

To be a blockbuster filmmaker in the 21st century, you have to do pretty much that: One man, or woman, goes out and saves the world. Wish fulfillment theater at its finest. It is a common theme in the human psyche. This need to channel all of the chaos the earth can muster into a digestible apocalyptic thriller, in which the evil doers are done in, once and for all, as we enjoy the collateral damage of what is, in the end, a happy ending.

Since the mind is a relevance machine, the end result, in all cases, is an overpowering distortion, but nonetheless valid expression, of the news of the day. Unfortunately, as beautiful and fascinating and awestruck we might be from all of these hell-raising conceits, there is a danger. There is a malfunction, yes, that almost works like bad code embedded in a computer. The kind of thing that can make the mind shut down.

Which makes the popularization of the idea that the world will end in 2012 so laughably unfortunate. Forget to even try to study the origins of the Mayan myths on 2012. The way it was popularized by the Harmonic Convergence in 1987. Forget even to have to get rid of that old SUV, or hell, even take out the garbage. There are forces out there larger, Emmerich tells us, than mere global warming. Climate change plays no part here (item for additional research: does the media empire involved in the making of this movie have in stock in Exxon? Hmmm … Sony Pictures … big Godzilla vibe only, one supposes).

If every sector of society, infected with the doom code, then that society is only further demoralized into hopelessness and inaction. This, when action and participation are really what’s needed. Say you want a revolution? Well, that’s not the message since Fellini made movies. Now it’s: If you want a ticket to the ark, build it first, in your heart, then your head, then start swimming, swim, swim, swim with the shore …

~ Douglas McDaniel