See You Next Tuesday (The World Not Ending)

See You Next Tuesday is the Boomstick's regular column. On Tuesdays, I bring you the week's most laughable scumbags, idiots, and jerks for your reading and reviling pleasure. If you don't get the name, visit your nearest middle school playground and ask the first kid you see.  You can read previous editions here.  This week's See You Next Tuesday is:

The World Not Ending

We all know the real reason the Rapture didn't happen.
As I'm sure you all know, a Christian radio show host named Harold Camping had predicted that the Rapture would occur at the first stroke of 6:00 pm (unclear if God knows about daylight saving time) on May 21, 2011. After the faithful were raptured to Heaven, he predicted, months of earthquakes and plagues would ravish the rest of us until October, when the actual Apocalypse occurred. (I say "us" because I'm pretty sure you've ruined your chances at being a first-round Rapture draft pick just by reading this blog.) But six o'clock struck in every time zone with no signs of souls ascending to Heaven, and Camping and his congregation were forced to admit they were wrong.

As I read stories about all of Camping's followers who quit their jobs and spent all their savings proselytizing only to be Left Behind™, I can't help but feel like they just went about this whole thing wrong. They ignored the important fundamentals of announcing and preparing for a worldwide catastrophe. If only they'd taken the time to thoroughly study some great 1990s disaster movies, all of this could've been different! So, for this week's See You Next Tuesday, let's take a look at what they missed.


1. Science:  It doesn't have to be good science, or even plausible science, so long as the reasons behind your disaster are spouted by someone named "Dr."In fact, frankly, the worse the science is, the better the disaster probably is. This is because your scientist is someone whose niche field is only actually interesting in the instance of this particular global cataclysm. But some fancy gadgets, bleeping machines, unsophisticated radars, and giant buttons are absolutely necessary. This was Camping's first mistake: you can keep the superstitious ancient Bible stuff, but you've got to shroud it in a shoddy science overlay (See, e.g., 2012.)

2. POTUS:  If the President of the United States isn't involved, it's not a real disaster. Every disaster movie worth its Jeff Goldblum subplot has a sweaty, frustrating scene where the late-to-the-game President realizes that this isn't just a Soviet plane/radar blip/cold front, and needs advice. He turns to his overrepresented-minority-and-female cabinet, who bring in the frazzled scientist who has been trying to warn everybody about the asteroid/aliens/Gary Oldman all along! Then we get to the motivational speech, and bam, we're off to the big finish!

3. Sex: More specifically, a sexually-charged, regret-filled relationship with your ex-spouse. Your ex-spouse is probably also a scientist.  In rarer situations, you're allowed to survive the disaster with someone you've never been married to, but they must be engaged to someone richer than you who is a total asshat.

4. The Loose Cannon: In some movies, the scientist is the loose cannon; in others, it's just Will Smith. Either way, there needs to be some lovable, rule-breaking, anti-establishment gunslinger who's a burden to his supervisors and a hero to the rest of us. Either way, Harold Camping's cannon is waaaaay too tight to properly take on this role, and resulted in a crucial world-ending oversight.


1. Unwarranted hubris: They said the Titanic wouldn't sink. They said the tower wouldn't inferno. They said that the dinosaurs would stay in the park. In all cases, human overconfidence and oversight caused great disaster. This is one area that Camping and his congregation totally nailed: baseless predictions veiled in audacious certainty. It's really too bad they couldn't have just thrown in some lady scientists and a loose-cannon side-kick; people would've taken their impudence way more seriously!
Hackman > Camping.

2. Spiritual leader as hero: Not since The Posidon Adventure has there been a Christian minister as the lead hero in a disaster movie. Granted, Gene Hackman's Reverend Scott was a lot different than Camping: intelligent, modest, brave, heroic, and self-sacrificing. But, if Camping was trying to pay homage to the original great disaster flick, then I'll let him have it. I just wish he'd followed through with the tribute and, like Reverend Scott, drowned himself on an upside-down boat.
So that's why the world didn't end. Well, that and Macho Man Randy Savage saving all of us with a perfectly-placed elbow-drop. And since the world isn't over, I'll See You Next Tuesday.
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Write comments
May 24, 2011 at 10:20 AM delete

I still think Pullman did the world's greatest Reagan impression in Independence Day.

Also, keep in mind that Hackman was a priest who hated God. You're really only allowed to be religious in these movies if you're Jewish. (Remember when Judd Hirsch and his dad prayed with yamulkes in ID4?)


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