Chris Smith vs. Roland Emmerich in ‘2012’ & ‘Collapse’ Trailer Mashup
A little over a month ago, the word coming out of the Toronto Film Festival was that Chris Smith’s new documentary, Collapse, was consistently scaring the shit out of people with its nightmarish predictions of a pending global apocalypse. The film’s since been picked up and is slated for release on Friday — as luck would have it, one week before Roland Emmerich’s baroque apocalypse-fantasy 2012. The inevitable mashup of their respective trailers might have been put together in jest, but it touches on a serious question. At a time when a real world catastrophe seems scarily plausible, why this continued appetite to see ourselves blown up on screen?
I can’t help but think of Baudrillard’s writing about this phenomenon in his The Spirit of Terrorism. He finds, at its root, a suicidal impulse.
It has been said that “Even God cannot declare war on himself.” Well, he can. The West, in the position of God (divine omnipotence and absolute moral legitimacy), has become suicidal, and declared war on itself. The countless disaster movies bear witness to this fantasy, which they clearly attempt to exorcise with images, drowning out the whole thing with special effects. But the universal attraction that they exert, which is on a par with pornography, shows that acting-out is never very far away…
My distaste for this theory is proportional to my belief that it’s true. Seeing Collapse this weekend probably won’t help any, but that’s the plan regardless. 2012 I’ll skip.