On November 13, 2009, the world is going to end. At least, in theaters it is. Roland Emmerich’s 2012 appears to come complete with all the standard features of a Hollywood apocalypse: mass hysteria, government foundering, anarchy, and loads of CGI destruction. Yes, it seems Emmerich is up to his usual shenanigans (and whether humanity is doomed or not, I’m just thankful he got John Cusack for the lead).
Hollywood’s master of disaster has earned his title over the years with such blockbuster epics as The Day After Tomorrow and Independence Day. His movies depict ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, people pitted against seemingly insurmountable odds as the world they know crumbles all around them.
It seems the director has got “end times” on the brain, and he’s not the only one. Since the early ’90s, Hollywood has pumped out a litany of world destructions: Cloverfield, Invasion, The Day the Earth Stood Still, I Am Legend, 28 Days Later, War of the Worlds, The Mist, Constantine, Armageddon, The Core, Deep Impact, The Road, and Dawn of the Dead (and all of the recent zombie films inspired by George A. Romero), just to name a few.
As a side note, it is important to mention that recent years have seen apocalyptic visions emerging in print as well. A great many of these stories have packed our local bookshelves, one fantasy novel more nihilistic and ruinous than the last. And the public simply cannot get enough of it.
All of these global-warming, alien-invading, zombie-killing yarns, even the less reflective ones, flirt heavily with a number of the doctrines of eschatology. “Eschatology is a part of theology and philosophy concerned with what are believed to be the final events in the history of the world.” The predictions and central themes of each doctrine are dependent on the context in which they are discussed.
With regard to some religions and mysticisms, eschatology refers to the spiritual awakening concurring with the apocalypse (literally “the lifting of the veil”) and foretold by sacred texts. Secularists naturally employ doctrines of this philosophy that are mostly concerned with the end of human existence or the corporeal destruction of the planet. Some faiths consider both spiritual transformation and the obliteration of celestial bodies.