End of the world
Students fascinated by films of the apocalypse
Madison Dennis | Collegio Editor-in-chief
The History Channel, Columbia Pictures, and Warner Brothers have made millions off one of society’s most gruesome fascinations: the end of the world. Whether it’s aliens, disease, the Mayan calendar, or the Antichrist, entertainment that features the end of days seems to soar in popularity.
Many students confess to being part of the obsession with the end of days. Jordan Hughes, a sophomore in nursing, says that her fascination comes from the predicted
2012 apocalypse date.
“I wouldn’t say that I believe in it one hundred percent,” Hughes said. “But it definitely gives me more of a shiver now that the date is so close.”
Hughes says the movie “2012” starring John Cusack first got her intrigued about the date.
“I’d heard about Dec. 21, 2012, being the end of the Mayan calendar, but I really never started paying attention to it until that movie came out.”
Hughes says that she began watching History and Discovery channel shows that depicted theories about how civilization could be destroyed in 2012.
“I saw these shows that had a bunch of different scientists in all different fields with theories about the poles changing and asteroids crashing into us, and they all said it could happen in 2012,” Hughes said. “I was like, OK, that’s weird.”
Cynthia Woodburn, professor in mathematics, also has a special interest in the Mayan calendar. During a mathematical study tour she took this summer in Guatemala, she was exposed to Mayan ruins and listened to lectures that involved the Mayan calendar system.
“That got me intrigued, so I did some additional research,” Woodburn said.
Woodburn says that the long count Mayan calendar system was comprised of 13 eras, called bak’tuns. The first era began on Aug. 11, 3114 B.C. The 13th era will end on Dec. 12, 2012.
“There is evidence that the Mayans believed that t
he cycle would then reset and start over,” Woodburn said. “There’s no evidence that they believed this would be the end of the world.”
However, Woodburn says that doesn’t mean the Mayans didn’t think Dec. 12, 2012 would not be a significant date.
“They did believe that the start of a new bak’tun was a time of change,” Woodburn said. “And 13 did have special significance for them.”
Beth Burns, undeclared freshman, says that she has a particular interest in entertainment that depicts the end of the world.
“It’s a lot like how ghost movies aren’t as scary as kidnapping movies, because kidnapping is a real thing and ghosts are more fantasy,” Burns said. “When it seems like it’s possible it’s a lot more scary.”
Burns says that she favors media that depict the apocalypse as something feasibly scientific.
“There’s this book called ‘Life As We Knew It’ and it’s about how a huge asteroid hit the moon and knocked it closer to Earth, and the tides and daylight and seasons all got changed and there was mass chaos and death,” Burns said. “Things like that that are possible, and not more fantasy like monster movies like ‘I Am Legend’ or ’28 Days Later’ are a lot more freaky.”
Other students prefer the more fantastic side of the apocalyptic art genre.
“I am a huge “The Walking Dead” fan,” said Nick Hart, junior in automotive technology.
The AMC show, which follows a clan of people after a zombie apocalypse, garnered a huge fan base after its premiere on Halloween 2010.
“The crazy science fiction stuff is what’s most interesting about the apocalypse,” Hart said. “Zombies are the most interesting because you can just get caught up in the ‘what would you do’ scenarios without having to be too serious.”
Hart said that after watching “The Walking Dead” and “Zombieland,” a 2009 movie about the zombie apocalypse, he noticed an explosion of zombie literature.
“If you go to pretty much any bookstore you can find books like ‘How to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse’ or ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,’” Hart said. “It’s really popular.”
Despite the apparent growth in 2012 art, Woodburn says that the current love for apocalyptic entertainment is nothing new.
“It has been a recurring theme throughout history,” Woodburn said.