Oh me, oh maya

by by Maggie Lange

The trailer of Sony Pictures’ latest disaster movie, 2012, posits what might be the most outrageous human rights dilemma of all time: “How will the governments of the world help six billion face the end of the world? Answer: They will not.” The film inaccurately adopts the Mayan calendar’s predicted apocalypse, so that director Roland Emmerich can feature every possible disaster in rapid succession; freeways collapsing in slow motion, the city of Los Angeles belly-flopping into the ocean, both the Vatican and the White House meeting symbolic ends, and a tidal wave splashing over the Himalayas.
Apparently, 2012 had so many people shaking in their boots that NASA intervened. Not embarrassed enough by not being able to get its rocket (Ares I-X) up two weeks ago, NASA decided to acknowledge box-office-fueled fears with a response. In the “Frequently Asked Questions” portion of their website, officials created a category titled: 2012: Beginning of the End or Why the World Won’t End? NASA experts (probably on doomsdays, disasters, or answering countless phone-calls on the subject of paranoia) explicitly stated, “Nothing bad will happen to the Earth in 2012. Our planet has been getting along just fine for more than four billion years.”
David Morrison, the Interim Director of NASA Lunar Science Institute and a Senior Scientist at NASA Astrobiology Institute explained, “There is no science at all in the fear of 2012 doomsday. It is purely a manufactured thing based on nothing more than a psychic supposedly channeling messages from aliens, or science fiction about ancient astronauts.” Yet, he said despite veritable proof that NASA presents, “it is hard to deal with a fear that is based on nothing at all. Yet people write to me saying they are considering suicide, or mothers talking about killing their children, or others building bomb shelters or planning to move to Africa. It is very sad.”
The premise of the film cashes in on this fear by showing consequential crashes, collapses, and big bangs. The scenario of 2012 is that the Planet X, or Nibiru, will smack against the Earth. Nibiru, according to the movie, was discovered by the Sumerians, paranormal activity experts, and internet bloggers. In the real world, these groups (minus the Sumerians, who didn’t comment) claim that the NASA is obscuring the truth about the existence of Planet X.
NASA responded, “If Nibiru or Planet X were real and headed for an encounter with the Earth in 2012, astronomers would have been tracking it for at least the past decade, and it would be visible by now to the naked eye. Obviously, it does not exist.”
Bill Hudson, an astrologist who runs the popular website said that if there had been any object this large, he would have seen it. Hudson explains that Nibiru is actually a brainchild of internet celebrity and paranormal liaison, Nancy Lieder, who claimed she had telepathic communication with aliens who told her the planets would collide in 2003. Hudson went on to say, “When 2003 came and went, the Planet X idea got re-used as part of the 2012 doomsday hoax. The movie does not follow any of the major ideas behind the 2012 hoax, but instead uses the 2012 date as a vehicle for Emmerich to tell his ‘Modern Day Noah’s Ark’ story.”
Initial theories also pegged the Mayan predicted world collapse for May 2003, but then realized they must have been incorrect when the world didn’t melt, and moved it to the end of 2012. Modern Mayans, about half of Guatemala’s population, have made several statements about what they see as a Western misinterpretation of their beliefs. “There is no concept of apocalypse in the Mayan culture,” Jesus Gomez, head of the Guatemalan confederation of Mayan priests and spiritual guides, told The Sunday Telegraph.
Gomez explains the movie is a gross misunderstanding; the Mayan calendar ends, as simply as the Western calendar ends every December; the Mayan’s were not mystic apocalypse-predictors. He continued, saying that connections between the movie and Mayan culture are completely unfounded. To make the discrepancy even more shocking, according to the Sunday Telegraph, 2012’s obscene budget of $200 million is exactly 100 million times the amount of money that most Mayans live on per day.
Despite NASA’s explanations and modern Mayan’s denial, apocalyptic fears are still in the air. NASA most likely is responding to worriers, who after seeing the 2012 trailer felt a surge in preparatory panic for a disaster three years in the offing.
The film itself is preparatory; to ensure everyone’s viewing pleasure, Sony released 2012 three years in advance, to ensure DVD sales, and maybe even a couple sequels before the certain world collapse on winter solstice, 2012.

MAGGIE LANGE B’11 lives on $200 million a day.