2012: Countdown To The Apocalypse

Nostradamus famously predicted that the world would end in 1999, although he was wrong, of course. That year, human civilisation was left relatively unshaken, despite the release of Will Smith’s “Willennium” and The Phantom Menace. In actuality, the world is going to end this month, and we, of course, know this for certain because director Roland Emmerich says it will.

“SCIENCE HAS CONFIRMED IT” insisted the trailer for Emmerich ‘s movie 2012 (2009), which tells the prophetic tale of Earth’s gruesome destruction, caused by neutrinos that mutate and cook our planet’s core.

This isn’t merely fiction either; this is real science that has been confirmed by John Cusack in a film. Our doom really is imminent. All we can do now is watch films that might somehow prepare us for life in a dismal wasteland—if any of us are indeed fortunate enough to survive global annihilation.

We can learn a lot from films like the post-apocalyptic masterpiece Zardoz (1974), which warns that “gun is good” and “penis is evil”, while Sean Connery frolics around in a tiny speedo shooting things, proving as much.

We can learn from I Am Legend (2007), in which Will Smith plays a virologist who is immune to a virus that was originally created to cure cancer. Defending himself against the rabid sufferers who have been affected by the epidemic, in one harrowing scene we watch as the aforementioned “Willennium” singer is forced to kill his beloved dog after it becomes infected with the virus.

To avoid such a tragedy, be sure to construct your own robotic friends instead, like Freeman Lowell did in Silent Running (1972). Alone in space, he kept his sanity by building his own companions out of metal, in turn inspiring Pixar’s WALL-E (2008) and the brilliant US comedy series Mystery Science Theatre 3000.

Company is all well and good, of course, but we’ll also need plenty of mental stimulation—so best steer clear of 2012. On the contrary, Mike Judd’s comedy Idiocracy (2006) teaches us the dangers of advertising, commercialism and cultural anti-intellectualism. And much like the present, the dystopian future in Idiocracy champions stupidity over intelligence: a Gatorade-type drink has replaced water (it contains “electrolytes”!), Starbucks now serve handjobs and the most popular show on television is the all too familiar “Ow My Balls”.

The fictional series is worlds away from Chris Marker’s La Jetée (1962), an excellent featurette constructed almost entirely from still photos (none of which feature any testicular trauma, sadly). It tells the story of a post-nuclear war experiment in time travel and was the primary inspiration for 12 Monkeys (1995).

Of course, if all goes awry and none of us survive the fate Roland Emmerich has forced on us, it’s time to accept matters and watch Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012). In it, Steve Carell and Keira Knightley end up forming a close relationship as they await their cruel and certain fate.

Still, not to worry. Who knows? Perhaps death won’t be so bad. Michael Bay’s rumoured to be producing his own film on the 2012 phenomenon, scheduled for release in 2014, and thus somewhat missing the point I feel. But on the bright side, if the world does end this month, at least we won’t live to see its release.