Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Universal Apocalypse

Halloween 2012 seems an auspicious date to inaugurate this blog. The Day of the Dead, after all, marks the opening of a door to another world. Something spooky and occult is called for. I don't intend to use video as a rule, but the following video is short enough and rich enough in meaning to make it a worthy exception.

It is of course the logo of Universal Studios, one of Hollywood's biggest outfits, owned by NBC which in turn is owned by GE. It's fair to say that anyone who watches movies will be familiar with the 21 second footage. It's the first thing shown as the feature begins, and, with its dramatic visuals and stirring fanfare, it's likely to have just as memorable an impact on the viewer as the feature itself.

The video opens with a "close-up" view of the eastern tip of Siberia from outer space, and over the length of its 21 seconds, more and more of Asia, Africa, and Europe is shown from further out in space. Finally, the western hemisphere is shown, the point of view stabilizes, and the video ends.

So far, there's not much spooky or occult happening here. But the surface of the eastern hemisphere bears a closer look. Raindrops of light, it seems, the size of cities, advance over half the globe. As the camera focuses over the western hemisphere, the effect stops, the raindrops disappear, and the surface of the American continents are left unmarred be any sort of disturbance.

Is this an apocalyptic scene of semi-global destruction? This was my interpretation, and apparently I'm alone in the way I'm viewing it. The comment section of YouTube, usually a home to all manner of kooks and contrarians, indicate nothing but the positive feelings of excitement and anticipation that the logo evokes. Wikipedia and other such corners of the internet were much the same, to my surprise.

Admittedly, a world enveloped in mushroom clouds would be a less equivocal depiction of the apocalypse, universally recognized for what it is. I have to counter though, that to recognize raindrops as mushroom clouds is not absurd, and that the shape of a splashing raindrop is akin to the shape of an upside-down mushroom cloud, and of course that in the unconscious mind, according to psychoanalysis, the two opposites are freely interchangeable.

That's my take on the matter, and though I'm a little perplexed that nobody I've found has commented on the fact that this entertainment giant sees fit to whet our movie-going appetites with a such a scene, my biggest concern is "Why?" Why would Universal Studios use this half-hidden depiction of destruction of at least half the world to introduce their movies? Is that not spooky?

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