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2012 and the Mayan Calendar

In Mass Communication on October 18, 2009 at 11:39 pm

The movie 2012, produced by Sony Pictures, is based on conspiracy, politics and ideology. It is a mixture of action/adventure and science fiction, blending current events with ancient history, taking advantage of rumor about the world is going to end in three years. Scientists have been predicting catastrophic events like Planet X crashing into Earth, killer solar flare (the movie Knowing already used this idea), the possibility of geomagnetic reversal, etc. There is no concrete evidence that when exactly any of these events will happen, but many people have been interpreting the end of the last Mayan calendar as a warning to humankind.

The Mayas used a very complicated calendar system. Simply put, the first day on a Mayan calendar is expressed as 0.0.0.0.1 (where each digit goes from 0 to 19) and the 20th day would be 0.0.0.1.0. This is sometimes referred to as the Long Count Calendar. There have been debates, even amoung Mayan archaeo-astronomers, about when the Mayan calendar actually ends. Since they used the numbers 13 and 20 as the roots of their numerical system, the calendar may end on 13.0.0.0.0 (equivalent to our December 21, 2012), or it may continue on until 20.0.0.0.0. Either way, this only represents the end of a cycle and the beginning of another, instead of everything ending into nothingness. According to Sandra Noble, executive director of the Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies in Crystal River, Florida, ancient Mayas considered reaching the end of a cycle an important event to celebrate. This leads me to believe that the Mayan calendar works very much the same way as our calendar today: every January 1st, we celebrate the dawn of a new year; the Mayas were the same way, only that their calendar cycle lasted 18,980 days (52 years of 365 days each).

On the “official” 2012 movie website, there are several external links:

  • This is the End — a fun and causal looking blog about the prediction of the end of the world
  • Institute of Human Continuity — an organization bearing the mission of ensuring the survival of the human race beyond 2012; you can vote for your favorite future leader for the world beyond 2012 as well as register yourself for survival lottery
  • Corruption Theory — another blog site designed to look like it contains messages from a secret agent of some kind
  • News Done Right — news reporting site that claims to be unbiased
  • Farewell Atlantis — official website for the a fictional novel that the movie character Jackson Curtis wrote

Although these websites all seem legitimate and look different, they are all fictional characters and organizations created by Sony Pictures to support the movie. Also on the movie website, visitors can find and download wallpaper, buddy icons, Twitter background and iPhone applications; fans can also follow any news about the movie on social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, as well as You Tube.

Just like most Hollywood movies, this one is probably good for its entertainment value only, and should not be taken seriously. As mentioned above, the end of the last Mayan calendar only means the end of a cycle, much like December 31st of every year. The Mayas is an ancient culture that no long exist. Just this reason alone is adequate in explaining why there is not another calendar of its kind produced. Also, Susan Milbrath, a Maya archaeo-astronomer and a curator at the Florida Museum of Natural History said that it is impossible for the Mayas to predict natural catastrophe, and there is “no record or knowledge that they would think the world would come to an end at that point.”

I also agree with Susan Gillespie, University of Florida anthropologist, that all the hype about 2012 is created by the mass media, making use of the little known history of the Mayan calendar for new profiting opportunities. There have been other books written about 2012, for example, Apocalypse 2012: A Scientific Investigation Into Civilization’s End by journalist Lawrence E. Joseph who forecasts widespread catastrophe, The Revolution of 2012: Vol. 1, The Preparation by spiritual healer Andrew Smith who predicts a restoration of a true balance between divine feminine and masculine, as well as 2012 by Daniel Pinchbeck who anticipates a change in the nature of consciousness. And, in the case of our study here, just looking at the various websites that Sony Pictures created, it is obvious that much thoughts and efforts have been put into promoting the movie, trying to make the plot seem real so the tickets will sell. Movies, sometimes, create an experience so real that people can actually be convinced of the message from the movie, and, in this case, the world is coming to an end. And who is the better person to produce this cash cow than Roland Emmerich, who also produced and directed blockbuster movies Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow?

People, in general, fear the unknown. This is why they like to know what is going to happen in the future so they can prepare for it. If 2012 is like most other Hollywood movies, it is likely to end with the triumph of the human race, which will give hope to any pessimist who actually believes that the prophecy is true — another reason why this movie will sell.

There is no doubt that natural disasters will happen, but they have more to do with human activities disturbing the natural order than any predictions made by some ancient culture. No one can predict the future for sure. I prefer to live my life the way that suits me and not worry about things that are out of my control.

p.s. Another fun observation: in the photo gallery of the 2012 movie website, one of the shots was taken in downtown Los Angeles where all the buildings were collapsing except for the US Bank Tower. I wonder if the bank paid for that. Just a thought.

Sources:

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  1. I found your blog very interesting, there’s further information regarding 2012 predictions on the website…2012endofworldpredictions.com

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