Saturday, November 14, 2009

Roland Emmerich's "2012", or "Gary Stu is Smarter than You"

One of the most feared characters of internet fiction is the "Gary Stu". A Gary Stu is a male character whom the story considers to be handsome, intelligent, strong, masculine, assertive, wise, sexually attractive, caring, honest, humane, and so universally beloved that all other elements of the story quickly fall into loving orbits around him. Gary Stus are despised and dreaded on the internet because they are too perfect to be an organic part of a realistic story. Real life is always a little too messy for one character to be the shining avatar of perfection that reduces all other characters to marginalia.

"2012" is a Gary Stu film.

In this film, our designated Gary Stu is American geologist Adrian Helmsly. When the film starts, Helmsly is visiting a coal mine in India that houses an underground neutrino detector. The physicists working there explain to Helmsly that the neutino detector is detecting weird stuff going on with the sun that will cause the destruction of all life on Earth in the future year 2012. No other physicists on Earth ever learn the truth, and the only physicists who have learned the truth only tell Helmsly and nobody else. Helmsly, the indispensible man, immediately takes this information to Washington D.C., which earns him a promotion from "second assistant geologist in the subdivision of land reclamation" (or some such title) to "the President's right-hand man for charting the future course of humanity as we know it".

Of course, even Helmsly can't save humanity alone, so he's given three assistants. The first of the three is the White House Chief of Staff, who gets stuck with handling the dirty jobs of assassinating dissidents and taking bribes from Saudi billionaires in order to preserve Helmsly's saintly reputation for do-gooding. The second is a grey-headed academic geologist who handles the hum-drum trivia of global devastation while Helmsly focuses on the big picture (i.e. Gary Stu is a "big picture" man, unless the "devil is in the details", in which case he is a "Sherlock Holmes"). Finally, his third assistant is the President of the United States himself. The President, who glides through the film in a seemingly drug-addled stupor, adds nothing to the film of his own accord, of course, since this is a job reserved exclusively for Helmsly. The President's true role in this film is to pass the torch of American hope, change, and idealism on to the saintly Helmsly. As a fringe benefit, Helmsly is adopted into the royal lineage as a sort of heir-designate when he falls for the President's very available daughter.

Helmsly rides out the film in safety and priviledge. Helmsly spills the beans on the secret of the global apocalypse to his father, but doesn't get assassinated like all of the other whistleblowers because he is the Good Son. Helmsly spends the early days of the apocalypse in the safe haven of the White House, where he is acclaimed as the One Honest Man in a den of criminals and sycophants. When the devastation approaches Washington D.C., Helmsly speeds away in the comfort and safety of Air Force One. When the global tsunami start wiping out the world's population, Helmsly is safely hidden away in his great Ark at the top of the Himilayan mountains (even Mount Everest is not safe from the Great Flood). And when the powers that be shut the doors of the Arks in the faces of the poor, suffering masses, Helmsly -- whose name apparently means "God is with us" -- speaks truth to power to redeem humanity for its sins.

The other interesting character is a down-and-out writer named Jackson Curtis. Curtis is a sort of anti-Stu. Instead of achieving greatly the way Helmsly does, Curtis is forced to spend the film suffering greatly by struggling to keep his family alive as the world, quite literally, goes to hell around him. Believe it or not, it turns out that even Curtis and his Job-like tribulations ultimately serve the purpose of the High and Mighty Helmsly. It turns out that while the rest of the world thought that Curtis was a loser writer who wasn't worth reading, the great, poetic, sensitive, true-seeing Helmsly recognized Curtis's novel as the product of a great and transcendent writer destined to become the one authentic voice -- the new Homer -- worthy of survival into the post-diluvian world. Curtis's struggle to survive vindicates Helmsly, who was the only one with the foresight to see in Curtis a will to survive.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home