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2012′ by Roland Emmerich Film Analysis

One of the reasons why, along with representing an aesthetic value, some movies can also be considered as such that represent an unmistakably philosophical one, is that it is in the cinematography’s very nature to reflect what happened to be the essence of the affiliated socio-cultural discourse. That is, while exposed to a particular film, viewers are usually able to identify the nature of the featured characters’ unconscious anxieties – hence, gaining an in-depth insight into the socio-cultural discourse in question. In this paper, I will explore the validity of the above-stated, in regards to the 2009 film 2012, directed by Roland Emmerich, while promoting the idea that the concerned movie may well be referred to as yet another indication that, as time goes on, Americans grow increasingly effeminate/degenerative.

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Following the film’s plot does not represent a particular challenge. In essence, this plot revolves around the effects of the ‘end of the world’ on humanity. More specifically, Emmerich’s movie focuses on the fate of the main characters of Jackson Curtis and his ex-wife Kate. The film’s secondary characters, which nevertheless play an important role, within the context of how 2012 conveys its message of the ‘humanity’s overhaul,’ are Dr. Gordon Silberman (Kate’s boyfriend), Charlie Frost (a supposedly crazed conspiracy-theorist) and Yuri Karpov (a Russian-born billionaire).

One of the film’s most peculiar aspects is the fact that, as it was mentioned in the Introduction, it describes the American society as such that is becoming increasingly estranged from the rationale-based masculine virtues, which in the past made it possible for the affiliated citizens to ensure the U.S. undisputed dominance in the world. The validity of this suggestion can be well illustrated about the character of Jackson.

Even though, as the film implies, Jackson is a well-known scientist, he nevertheless prefers to make a living by being a limousine-driver. Moreover, he even appears to be proud of the situation. This, of course, can be well interpreted as the director’s subtle hint at the fact that the very realities of a post-industrial living in America naturally predispose the society’s most valuable members to experience a hard time, while trying to ‘fit’ in the highly hedonistic American society (Choi and Berger 316).

The director’s hint, in this respect, correlates perfectly well with the empirical observation that it is specifically those Americans who lead the essentially parasitic lifestyles (such as movie-celebrities, for example), who define the manner of how this society functions. It is understood, of course, that this state of affairs could hardly be considered beneficial to the continual well-being of America – hence, the clearly defined apocalyptic undertones to the scenes of this country being destroyed by the forces of nature, as seen in the movie.

The film’s other character, which can be well deemed an embodiment of the earlier mentioned process of American men growing increasingly feminized, is Dr. Gordon Silberman, who works as a plastic surgeon. As can be seen in the movie, Gordon is a rather well-off individual, which explains why Kate decided to stick with him. It is specifically the character’s ability to help the LA-based socially parasitic celebrities to get rid of the excessive amounts of fat, and not his ability to contribute to the society’s well-being in the meaningful way, which allowed him to become a financially secure/socially dominant citizen.

Having been unconsciously aware of the sheer unnaturalness of this situation, Gordon strived to affiliate himself with the virtues of manliness. For example, he succeeded in acquiring a pilot-license. However, there is the undeniable spirit of artificialness to Gordon’s ‘machismos’ – throughout the film’s entirety; he never ceases positioning himself as an effeminate ‘geek,’ utterly incapable of ensuring his physical survival on its own. Enough, apart from being driven by the desire to prove to the world his ‘manliness,’

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Gordon did not have a clue as to why he needed to learn how to fly, in the first place. Thus, the character of Dr. Gordon Silberman can be well-referred to as an epitome of what is wrong with today’s America – namely, the fact that, as time goes on, more and more Americans are becoming increasingly deprived of those psychological qualities that allowed their ancestors to ensure America’s greatness.

The legitimacy of essentially the same idea Emmerich explores, in regards to the character of Yuri Karpov. While exposed to this character initially, viewers cannot help developing a strong antipathy towards him. After all, Yuri is being represented as a money-greedy and self-indulgent individual, who would not move a finger to help anyone who happened to be in need. However, as the film’s plot unravels, people start to think of Yuri in rather positive terms – all due to the character’s clearly defined existential vitality. Having been a person who the least deserves to be described as an intellectual sophisticate one; he nevertheless was able to prove himself thoroughly capable of acting sober-mindedly in time of a worldwide crisis. Partially, this can be explained by the particulars of the character’s ethnocultural affiliation. As a native-born Russian, Yuri has not been strongly affected by the anxieties of decadence – something quite uncommon among native-born Americans (Lipovetsky 68).

The film’s irony is concerned with the fact that, despite exhibiting the psychological traits of a mentally inadequate person, it is specifically the character of Charlie Frost, who radiates the aura of positivity more than anyone else does. Having been smart enough to uncover the government’s conspiracy to keep the majority of citizens arrogant, as to the nearing end of the world, he was much too idealistically minded not to consider sharing the concerned insights with the rest of Americans. Therefore, there is nothing incidental about Charlie’s image of a ‘psycho.’ In the film, he symbolizes the anxiety of purification through death and destruction, experienced by many effeminate American males on an unconscious level – the sensation that they nevertheless strive to suppress consciously.

To confirm the soundness of this specific suggestion, one would not have to go far – the sheer popularity of the film 2012 is nothing the consequence of this movie having been packed with the scenes of death and destruction. As such, this popularity implies that the ‘instinct of death’ (Georgescu 135) is growing ever-stronger in American moviegoers – just as was the case with decadent Romans (during the Roman Empire’s decline), whose main priority in life used to be enjoying the bloody spectacle of gladiators killing each other at the Coliseum (Thompson 28).

I believe that the earlier deployed line of argumentation, concerned with the idea that the film 2012 contains several clues, as to what can be considered the main causes of America’s geopolitical weakening, is fully consistent with the paper’s initial thesis.

Works Cited

2012. Dir. Ronald Emmerich. Perf. John Cusack, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Amanda Peet. Columbia Pictures, 2009. DVD.

Choi, Chong and Ron Berger. “Ethics of Celebrities and Their Increasing Influence in 21st Century Society.” Journal of Business Ethics 91.3 (2010): 313-318. Print.

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Georgescu, Matei. “The Duality between Life and Death Instincts in Freud.” Contemporary Readings in Law & Social Justice 3.1 (2011): 134-139. Print.

Lipovetsky, Mark. “New Russians as a Cultural Myth.” Russian Review 62.1 (2003): 54-71. Print.

Thompson, Leonard. “The Martyrdom of Polycarp: Death in the Roman Games.” The Journal of Religion 82.1 (2002): 27-52. Print.

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