For those of us in the news business, it's a tad frustrating to see people skip past news stands so they can stand in long lines for movies like 2012. Not that you can blame them entirely. The media in the kiosk describes a complicated world. And the movie describes a world that looks like the one below:
Boom! Crash! How does a newspaper compete with that? In the movie's second week, it's grossed $108 million. In doing so, it's created a tidal wave of anxiety from idiots who really believe: A) that the ancient Mayans' calendar predicted the end of the world; and B) that that extremely primitive civilization was better equipped to make that prediction than the current civilizations of the world.
For those who depend on that stupidity bubble for the enjoyment of the movie, don't click over to the jump.
Bob Waxman, who has a Masters in Comparative Esoteric Philosophy from Skidmore College in New York, has studied the very Mayan calendar that is a crucial plot point in the apocalyptic film. "There's no Mayan prophecy that predicted the end of the world," Waxman told me yesterday, from his office in Sarasota. "This (movie) is total hype."
The Armageddon scenario is based, says Waxman, on the Dresden Codex, an ancient Mayan text that was among the few not destroyed by Spanish conquistadors. "The Dresden Codex shows gods pouring water over the land, a dragon figure spewing water," says Waxman, referring to prophecies that the filmmaker's have used as the basis for predicting massive floods. In fact, says Waxman, those figures are more likely to be symbols of renewal and enlightenment. Also, "There's no reference to 2012."
Rather, the 2012 part comes from the Mayan calendar, which was based on the civilization's relatively advanced level of astronomical charting. "It's a calendar carved in stone," Waxman explains. "And a stone is only so big. Since it's round, it eventually turns over, just like an odometer."
Each stone charts 5,120 years, and since the calendar starts in 3144 B.C., that puts the end of the first cycle at the year 2012. December 21 is the date when planets align with the sun, or some such nonsense, a feat that's just as insignificant.
"Just because there is the end of the cycle, people have taken a doom-and-gloom attitude that at the end of the cycle there must come destruction," says Waxman.
In the movie (which, I must admit, I haven't seen -- so feel free to correct me in the comments thread), that destructive force are solar flares -- an actual cyclical phenomenon on the surface of the sun but which occurs too far away to have any effect on the earth -- much less heating the planet's core, such that it boils over, triggering earthquakes and tsunamis.
Waxman understands that the movie isn't aiming to portray actual events as much as to thrill audiences. He even admits it's an "entertaining film." But he takes umbrage with a host of New Age writers who have published books and sold DVDs based on this ridiculous premise.
Thanks to those charlatans' success at finding a credulous audience, a government agency with far more important things to do has had to create a webpage purely for the sake of debunking 2012 myths. Here's that NASA page.
Waxman has been scooped up by the Boca Raton public relations firm, TransMedia Group, which is marketing a trade paperback of his called 2012: The Ultimate Meaning. His publicist, Kim Morgan, told me she hopes to schedule a seminar for Waxman in Broward County.