I honestly didn’t know much about the 2012 phenomenon until about 77 minutes ago, when I popped in a screener of 2012: Science or Superstition provided to me by the (slightly off-kilter) folks over at The Disinformation Company. I knew that some were suggesting that December 21, 2012 would be the end of the world, and that Roland Emmerich had even decided to make a movie about it, but I had no idea what was behind those conspiracy theories. And although I don’t subscribe to any of that crackpottery, 2012 does present a fairly comprehensive examination of the apocalyptic myth, and some of it is even convincing enough to make me uneasy, although much of that unease I can attribute to my insane fear of heights combined with all the computer models of the solar system shown in the documentary (My fear of heights extends to an unhealthy concern that the Earth is going to slip out of its orbital path and hurtle into space. Solar system models terrify me, in part, because they demonstrate in a cosmic sense just how fucking helpless we all are. Sure, Bruce Willis can save us from meteors, but what’s he gonna do when the sun burns out and we crash into the galaxy’s cesspool?).
I have a fairly healthy skepticism when it comes to anything astrologically related, in part because my own dead gay father (as he’s affectionately known) was something of a cosmogony nut, as well as one of those New Age freaks who read Utne Reader and had past-life readings. He’d have really appreciated 2012, even if he did ultimately smoke up his own end times in a glass pipe. See: The coming 2012 apocalypse was not something foretold by Nostradamus or some other psychic nut job: It was forecasted by the ancient Mayan calendar. Apparently, it’s the last day on their calendar, so instead of assuming that the Mayans got lazy or decided to move on to another project, many suggest that the Mayans’ astrological observations led them to believe that there wouldn’t be a December 22, 2012. Or, at the very least, the Earth would be a different place.
And there is some anecdotal evidence (the increase in natural disasters, climate change, the popularity of Dane Cook) suggesting the Mayans knew what they were talking about. Infinitely more terrifying, however, are the scientific theories that are floating around which validate some of the Mayan beliefs. My brain doesn’t comprehend science particularly well, but here’s part of what I gleaned from the documentary: The Mayans believed, based on naked eye observations of the stars, that the Earth moved in 26,000 year cycles, and that our current cycle is set to end in a little less than two years. And here’s the scientific part: Apparently, in or around December 2012, a number of things will happen: 1) The Earth’s orbit will bring it to a point where the Sun is directly between us and the center of the galaxy, which will cause a disruption in the Earth’s energy; 2) the Earth’s weakening magnetic field may cause the Earth’s poles to reverse and, possibly, the Earth to capsize; 3) the 2012 winter solstice coincides with an alignment with a dark rift in the galaxy; and 4) it signals the end of our current precession (I think that the last time this happened, we got the ice ages).
Now, what are the consequences of all of this? Well, according to the documentary, a number of things could happen: Solar storms could mess up our global satellite systems and make it difficult to charge porn to your credit card; the world could flood and we’d all get a good long swim in; the Earth could turn upside down and seriously mess up our hair; we could enter a period of intense self-awareness; or we could all wake up on December 22nd with a bad case of the Mondays. Indeed, in addition to focusing on some of the cataclysmic events that the Earth could fall prey to, many of the scientists, authors, historians, and nutjobs in the documentary also hedge their bets a little, insinuating that this could all represent a metaphorical change to the Earth. A rebirth, if you will. Suddenly, everyone will wake up one day and think, “Damn! We’re really screwing over our planet. We should recycle more. And if it’s yellow, we should let it mellow.”
Of course, then a lot of the researchers go on to say that the Mayans forecasted much of this while they were completely fucking high on shrooms or, as they put it more euphemistically, the Mayans used substances to “facilitate expanded consciousness.” If I were Disinformation Media, I might have left that part out. Maybe it’s just me, but hallucinogens and apocalypse predicting don’t exactly mix.
Still, 2012: Science or Superstition makes for a fairly compelling documentary, though the latter half does get bogged down in a lot of the banal intricacies of the Mayan calendar, although that gave me plenty of time to daydream about what I was going to do with the remaining two years of my existence. The doc is narrated by a British woman, which has a way of poshing up the Cocoa Puffs, and two of the many contributors actually have “Dr.” in front of their names, though most of them wrote books you’d be likely to find next to The Da Vinci Code at the airport’s nonfiction section. But whether you believe this stuff or not doesn’t really take away from the experience of watching the documentary — it’s entertaining and lightly informative, slightly terrifying, and hey! It was directed by the guy who edited together the 40-Year-Old Virgin trailer. The shame of it is, though, if many of the “scientists” involved in the making of this picture are right about their theories, they probably won’t get a chance to say “I told you so.”
Here’s the first four minutes of the documentary, if you’re interested. Or you can just buy it.
Dustin Rowles is the publisher of Pajiba. He lives in Portland, Maine with his wife and son. You can email him here or leave a comment below.
2012: Science or Superstition / Dustin Rowles
Film | February 4, 2009 | Comments ()