End of the World 2012: Did Pop Culture Feed Our Obsession?

We’re all suckers for the “end of the world” tale. I’ll even admit to it, and I’m the most skeptical person you’ll ever meet. Discovery News reports that 12% of individuals worldwide believe that the world will end December 21, 2012, as per the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar — also widely known as the Mayan calendar. Though this number is small, it is clear that the thought of the apocalypse has more clout than initially suspected, as demonstrated by ever-growing genre of apocalyptic television shows and movies.

AMC’s The Walking Dead, J.J. Abram’s Revolution, and TNT’s Falling Skies are some of the most recent and popular TV shows aired on the topic. They all touch on the different ways our planet can fall apart, while detailing the horror and chaos plaguing the human race.

And who could forget 2012? The film brought to the screen by the same director of Day After Tomorrow and Independence Day, taught us the importance of keeping those who matter close on the eve of disaster. Some movies, such as Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, starring Steve Carell and Keira Knightly, have chosen to put a playful spin on the matter, providing a break from all of the ‘Fight for your life!’ disaster stories.

Although the doomsday genre of movies and shows is not a recent development, it has steadily increased in popularity the past few years. Even marketing agencies are feeling the heat, with commercials and advertisements speculating how the end of the world will come about. Shock Top beer recently released a commercial in which a pitchman walks through a world unraveling before his eyes to no dismay, telling his audience to choose Shock Top as the last beer they will ever drink. Axe, known as Lynx in the United Kingdom, has released “Happy End of the World,” a commercial depicting a man building an archetype of Noah’s Ark, then  spraying his Lynx body spray to attract women in twos to board his ship in the wake of massive flooding.

Even car manufacturers have jumped on this marketing ride — Chevy claims their Silverado is so strong and dependable, that it will survive the Mayan Apocalypse of 2012 (alongside the inexterminable Hostess Twinkies).  

Companies and manufacturers are not the only ones to muse about the conclusion of the Mayan calendar. People.com just recently published a video with celebrity musings about what the end of the world may entail.

Jesse Tyler Ferguson of Modern Family fame states, “First of all, I feel like we keep rescheduling the end of the world, like wasn’t it supposed to be like three years ago…?” Other celebs, like Michael Buble and Wendy Williams, jokingly said they will be having sex and eating all day before the last sands of the hourglass run out.

With so many media outlets shoving the concept of the apocalypse in our faces, it’s a little hard to ignore the possibility of our world falling to pieces. Discussion boards such as those on 2012Forum.com have had record amounts of activity in the last few months, including many posts giving advice on where to go and how to conserve your supplies.

Perhaps the end of the world may be no harsher than the blizzard storms currently wreaking havoc across the Plains and Midwest regions of the U.S. Maybe it is just a taste of the extreme weather changes expected on 12/21/12. We will just have to wait until later today to find out ... or ask New Zealand.

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Devin Ross

Devin is a recent graduate of Grinnell College, and current Editorial Intern at Madison Magazine. She enjoys writing about popular culture, technology, and media. In her spare time, Devin is known to bake up a storm, wear layers of knits, and read lots of Calvin and Hobbes.

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