2012 film offers terrible treats for terrified audiences

To believe in the apocalypse, or to not believe in the apocalypse in 2012? This is now no longer the question due to the mind’s eye of film director Roland Emmerich, director of this week’s mega-blockbuster DVD, 2012.

By all grim appearances in accordance with his work, 2012, that big blowout year in the Mayan calendar is a vivid and foregone conclusion.

Does that make him a prophet, a film visionary, or, a salesman? Movies are made to please pre-existing markets, especially on the mega-scale of this seamless, somewhat revealing examination of what life might be like as the deal goes down. The film is a real chance to schadenfreud oneself into a tizzy with an eye-full of god-wrath, as we watch each character, each necessary human figure in the film, get fried, flooded or simply shaken right out of the big script of life. Except for the lucky ones (Oh yeah, have faith!) Fairly much preaching to the choir then, is 2012, a tasty treat believers rapt in the eye candy of no more future … no more, well, everything …

Certainly fun to think about. And a terrible beauty to watch, 2012 is, yes it is …

However, with daily television news broadcasts confirming the collective psychology that the end is near, rendering such imaginative works less fun to think about, the popular attitude that the sky is falling, one can only go back 1,000 years to find a culture whose sense of doom was so widespread.

In their respective millennia, the creators of great apocalyptic works of art were sparked by minds overwhelmed with turmoil. So it is with 2012, the film, which provides the imagination with more than it can handle, an everything in one box disaster film for our times.

Frederico Fellini’s 8½ had a moment when the jaded director portrayed in the film declared that all he was trying to do was fulfill his vision of a film where “everything happens.”

To be a blockbuster filmmaker in the 21st century, you have to do pretty much that: One man, or woman, goes out and saves the world. Wish fulfillment theater at its finest. It is a common theme in the human psyche. This need to channel all of the chaos the earth can muster into a digestible apocalyptic thriller, in which the evil doers are done in, once and for all, as we enjoy the collateral damage of what is, in the end, a happy ending.

Since the mind is a relevance machine, the end result, in all cases, is an overpowering distortion, but nonetheless valid expression, of the news of the day. Unfortunately, as beautiful and fascinating and awestruck we might be from all of these hell-raising conceits, there is a danger. There is a malfunction, yes, that almost works like bad code embedded in a computer. The kind of thing that can make the mind shut down.

Which makes the popularization of the idea that the world will end in 2012 so laughably unfortunate. Forget to even try to study the origins of the Mayan myths on 2012. The way it was popularized by the Harmonic Convergence in 1987. Forget even to have to get rid of that old SUV, or hell, even take out the garbage. There are forces out there larger, Emmerich tells us, than mere global warming. Climate change plays no part here (item for additional research: does the media empire involved in the making of this movie have in stock in Exxon? Hmmm … Sony Pictures … big Godzilla vibe only, one supposes).

If every sector of society, infected with the doom code, then that society is only further demoralized into hopelessness and inaction. This, when action and participation are really what’s needed. Say you want a revolution? Well, that’s not the message since Fellini made movies. Now it’s: If you want a ticket to the ark, build it first, in your heart, then your head, then start swimming, swim, swim, swim with the shore …

In the past month I've rediscovered the creek that once ran beneath Cave Creek Road, and despite the intensity of that storm, it gave me hope. The run off from the major storm ran beneath the wash into a narrow twin-tunnel, right beneath Cave Creek Road, near the intersection at Grovers. I had heard there once was a cave and a creek and the essential idea of recalling the name of things swelled in mean, since, after all, the preservation of the source of all waters and wells and springs, both of the waters and of the mind, is clearly a solid goal at all times.

The effect of the storm was to create a brilliant waterfall to lead, as the Cave Creek Wash heads southwest under the road. It would, once through the tunnel beneath the street, fall over a cement cascade and then ... below the ground. Otherwise, it would have washed out the dog park, for sure, which is really what I want to tell you about: How dog parks are the new coffeehouses and how, well, this all relates to the well of both doggie beings and human beings at the same time.

People, as a lost resource, are hard to find, generally. They are hidden away, behind their fences, inside their portable headsets blaring private music, behind invisible stares on the bus, projecting themselves across great distances on their cell phones, generally not connecting to their neighbors, fellow pedestrians, everyone in their cars ... everyone, except for at bars (an old) favorite, coffeehouses (if you are a regular), and dog parks.

Yes, dog parks are the new social networks. People will stand there, talk first about their dogs. Their doggie traits. Share there stories. Really breaks the ice. Then, if you go often enough, you really get to know people.

Now, I could roll on a bit about animal behavior. And I wish I had a nickel for everyone I've met who thinks they are some kind of dog whisperer. I think lion tamers had it right. Walking into the cage like you own the place, since, after all, people seem to be attempting to obtain and then grow ever larger dogs ... those pocket poodles being some kind of embarrassment ... yes, large dogs are the new SUVs for yuppies, maybe since having kids in the 21st century seems a tad dicey ... suffice to say what dogs do, sniff and pee, is fairly much the same thing as small talk. Curious thing about all of that doggie behavior, the way they circulate, reminds me of social networks of all kids.

The, you know: the "Will you be my friend part."

Having lost a lot of sleep over the late night talk show drama at NBC, as well as the "Heidi"-style break from the closing Olympics ceremony in order to broadcast Jerry Seinfeld's reality/comedy combine ... not to mention the Amber Alert sent out for Conan O'Brien, we decided to ask Kenneth, the ever helpful page at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, New York, to give us the code for what, exactly, goes on in his building.

If the entertainment biz tells us anything, Kenneth is telling us even less. Overall, there is only this single truth about what has been projected for decades on the NBC TV screen of your choosing: There is no magic, only mystery.

In fact, no doubt, spontaneous combustion, as much as it can self-create drama and buzz, is the best way to describe the formula working here. Must go back to those legendary behind-the-scenes skits with Lorne Michaels, in which the fumbling and funny activities in the halls of 30 Rock were so cleverly on automated display.

The move to Jay Leno at the 9 p.m. slot (Arizona time), was merely a calculated shuffle to recreate buzz once the Olympics ended. But then, whenever it comes to networks (and networking) there is always some conspiracy buff in the building. Funny it is, though, how this blockbuster Jerry Seinfeld production, "The Marriage Ref," leaps into the picture. Hardly a spontaneous event.

Think of Leno, who sadly and alertly picked up on the new mean lowbrow ... in mean standards ... humor apparently in demand for the mainstream. Conan was simply a tradeoff for Seinfeld and the glorious rack of talent he could bring in ... Conan, the player to be named later here, in a significant trade ...

If you think of lining up intellectual property as something akin to shaking up a baseball lineup. Once you bring in the major free agents, send that up and comer to the minors, and all ... So then Leno goes back up on the mound, armed with his notorious spitball ... but the umps are watching closely now.

In fact, despite the buzz and fuss and drama the network continues to make for itself, although it may not be apparent, everything is clearly in order. These guys know exactly what they are doing: creating the most madcap entertainment entity on earth, a Keystone cops event for the masses. Yeah, there's reality TV and then there is reality.

NBC just figured out a long time ago...there's just no difference between the two.

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