Last Wednesday, I saw a preview of the new movie 2012 at the Birmingham Palladium. Having not seen or read anything about the movie, I wasn't sure what to expect. I'm pleased to say it wasn't a religious-themed "end times" piece of propaganda. Instead, it was a disaster film, like those 70s movies Airport, The Towering Inferno and The Poseidon Adventure, just on a wee bit of a larger scale. And possibly unlike those films (I don't think I've ever seen the first two in their entirety, and it's been decades since I've seen the third), 2012 has a thread of optimism about the survival of the human species.
I was also pleased to find that the characters were engaging and I found myself interested in what happened to them. It could easily have been plot-driven, with characterization given short shrift. As both a writer and someone who wrote a movie review column for a paper up north for 18 months in the 1990s, I believe that if people don't care what happens to the characters, everything else falls apart.
I especially liked Chiwetel Ejiofor's portrayal of Dr. Adrian Helmsley.
I don't think it'll be considered a spoiler if I reveal that the Earth doesn't explode, vaporize, get demolished by the Vogons to make way for a hyperspace bypass, or otherwise undergo some event that results in the destruction of all life. Be a bit of a downbeat ending if that were the case. Suffice it to say that in many ways the status quo is no more by the film's end. So yes, there are survivors once the dust (both literal and figurative) has settled. And we're left to wonder what comes next for these people.
Frankly, I think wars would come next. Wars over what territory a particular nation can claim as its own (especially those nations whose own countries no longer exist); over who runs the government of certain nations; and over who has access to various natural resources.
And then there would be the whole problem of rebuilding economies.
Sure, there might be some initial degree of mutual cooperation among the survivors of various nations, but human nature being what it is, such alliances will fall apart in the end.
In the Babylon 5 episode "Lines of Communication", Captain Sheridan quotes a phrase his grandfather had used, "the duration is going to be a lot longer than the war." It may be an oblique reference to the period of Reconstruction following the U.S. Civil War. In fact, I'd thought such a statement had been made around the time of Reconstruction, but haven't been able to find any such reference, either online or in books I own related to that period.
At any rate, if the "war" is this series of natural disasters in the movie, then the "duration" will be the rebuilding human culture and civilization.
Of course, 2012 is just a movie, meant to entertain us. The world isn't going to end in 2012, though apparently enough people actually believe it will to cause NASA to put out a statement to the contrary.
Among the more amusing "end of the world" theories NASA discredits is one stating some obscure planet will head toward or collide with Earth. As NASA rightly points out, were such a planet coming our way, astronomers would have tracked it for the last decade, and by now, everyone could see it with the naked eye.
Such "end of the world" predictions are nothing new. Back in 1990 or 1991, one local library carried a book claiming Saddam Hussein was the anti-Christ and that the end was nigh. Well, the world's still here and Saddam isn't.
And the world will still be here in 2012 (and 2112, and 2212, and for millennia after that).
But if it does end in 2012, look on the bright side. There's no chance a certain person will become president.
Our country's obsession with celebrity baffles me sometime. Especially where it concerns people who are famous just for being famous. Certain reality TV "stars" who appeared on endless magazine covers in recent months come to mind. A few weeks ago, an episode of Supernatural addressed this celebrity worship in an amusing way. In the episode, called "Fallen Idols", Sam and Dean Winchester investigate a series of murders apparently committed by the ghosts of famous people (James Dean and Abraham Lincoln) against individuals who'd idolized them. But they soon discover that the murders are being committed by a shape-changing Slavic deity named Leshii, who could only be appeased by the blood of its worshippers. Leshii has some choice words about celebrity worship.
The irony? The part was played by Paris Hilton, a person about whom I've previously paid zero attention. Leshii, in Hilton's form, abducted a girl who idolized Hilton, and later captured Sam and Dean. This former forest god, whose forest was cut down to build a Yugo plant, and has subsisted on whatever it can find since then, complains that people used to worship gods, but no more.
"This is what passes for idolatry?" Leshii as Hilton asks. "Celebrities? What've they got besides small dogs and spray tans?"
Leshii's diatribe mentions Hilton by name, and I have to wonder whether Hilton herself sometimes finds celebrity worship just a bit bizarre.
In any event, the lines wouldn't have had the same impact if they'd been delivered by someone other than a famous for being famous celebrity. And since I missed seeing her name in the credits, Hilton's appearance came as a surprise to me.
Overall, Supernatural has been consistently good this season; and I'm glad the writers haven't completely abandoned stories involving urban legends, folklores and various mythologies. Still, as I said in an earlier post, I wouldn't mind seeing deities from other mythologies taking an active interest in the season's major storyline: the upcoming apocalypse and the war between the recently freed Lucifer and various angels.
But maybe that's yet to come.
Copyright 2009 Patrick Keating
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