I noticed something interesting the other day in the trailer for the forthcoming 2012 movie. At the end of the trailer, (which–though the movie stars John Cusack, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Amanda Peet, Oliver Platt, and Thandie Newton–doesn’t include a single star, instead giving off a distinctly Baraka-like “documentary” feel, depicting only Buddhist monks and a typically Emmerich-ian, visual effects-heavy apocalypse sequence), in place of where you’d normally expect some URL to the effect of “www.2012themovie.com,” there appears, instead, a google search instruction:

What’s more interesting is that the google results for the term “2012” do not turn up a website for the movie. The closest you get is the IMDB listing, which is, like, half a dozen items down the list anyway. Meanwhile, the results do include such options as: “2012 – End of the World?” “Survive 2012: Ancient Mayan Doomsday” “Year 2012 Predictions” “No Doomsday in 2012” “2012 – The Future of Mankind” and so forth.

In case you’ve managed to escape having heard about this latest trend in end-of-the-world prophecy up till this moment, according to Wikipedia:

2012 is claimed by some with New age beliefs to be a great year of spiritual transformation (or alternatively an apocalypse). There is disagreement among believers as to whether 2012 will see an end of civilization, or humanity will be elevated to a higher level.

Many esoteric sources interpret the completion of the thirteenth B’ak’tun cycle in the Long Count of the Maya calendar (which occurs on December 21 by the most widely held correlation) to mean there will be a major change in world order.

Astrologer John Jenkins has determined that on this date, there will be “an extremely close conjunction of the northern hemisphere winter solstice sun with the crossing point of the Galactic equator and the ecliptic”, an event that will not be repeated for thousands of years. 

Several authors have published works which claim that a major, world-changing event will take place in 2012:

  • The 1997 book The Bible Code by Michael Drosnin claims that, according to certain algorithms of the Bible code, an asteroid or comet will collide with the Earth.
  • The 2006 book 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl by Daniel Pinchbeck discusses theories of a possible global awakening to psychic connection by the year 2012, creating a “noosphere.”
  • Riley Martin claims that Biaviian aliens will allow passage aboard their ‘Great Mother Ship’ when the Earth is ‘transformed’ in 2012.
  • Terence McKenna’s numerological novelty theory suggests a point of singularity in which humankind will go through a great shift in consciousness.

And so on.

Clearly, there’s quite a good deal of differing speculation going on, all of it perfect subject matter for the creator of such cinematic fare as 10,000 BC, The Day After Tomorrow, Independence Day, and Godzilla. By offering a google search instruction instead of a url, the film avoids narrowing such a broad, hot-button topic down into a typically useless movie website, and, instead, capitalizes on the full breadth of the phenomenon that is 2012.

For people who’ve never heard of 2012 before, this is a great way to add an unbeatable, real-world level of intrigue to the promotion of a Summer Action Disaster flick. For those that have, it’s a great way to leave all the contested options (Armageddon? Enlightenment? Close Encounter?) out on the table.

Creating a real-world narrative that can be used to expand the promotion for an entertainment property is what Alternate Reality Games are based on. What’s interesting in this case, though, is that the movie takes advantage of a back-story that already exists, and, furthermore, has been defined not by ARG designers, but by an open-source kind of process. The phenomenon behind the movie is whatever reality google says it is.

For context, imagine a remake of Waterwrold, where at the end of the preview, the instructions would read: “Google Search: Climate Crisis.”


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